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Opening of the 2023 ASEAN Summit: World’s Attention is Focused on Indonesia

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The 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, brought Indonesia back to the world’s attention. Of course, with a number of experiences in holding international events, it will not be difficult for Indonesia to host the 2023 ASEAN Summit.

As the holder of ASEAN chairmanship in 2023, Indonesia has made every effort to bridge deep and wide differences. However, President Jokowi believes that success will only be achieved if all countries, without exception, are committed, work hard, set aside their differences to produce something concrete and beneficial for the world in the midst of the various challenges it faces.

Indonesia is believed to be able to become the chairman of ASEAN in the midst of a global situation which is very full of uncertainties and after the slumping of the Covid-19 pandemic. Various crises are currently sweeping globally, such as the economic crisis, the energy crisis, the food crisis, the Russia-Ukraine war and so on. These various challenges are of course not easy for countries in the world, especially for developing countries.

According to President Joko Widodo or Jokowi, ASEAN is still important and relevant for the people, for the region, and for the world and ASEAN will continue to contribute to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. In addition, ASEAN will continue to be able to maintain economic growth. 

Indonesia once again received the award as Chair of ASEAN 2023, having previously held the chairmanship in 1976, 1996, 2003 and 2011. ASEAN itself stands for The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which was formed on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand. At that time, there were five founding countries of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. 

Currently, ASEAN consists of 11 countries, five founding countries and an additional number of countries, namely Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and the last member to join is Timor Leste.

President Jokowi officially accepted the ASEAN 2023 leadership from Cambodia, during the closing ceremony of the 2022 ASEAN Summit in Sokha Phnom Penh. The handover of chairmanship was carried out directly by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to President Jokowi. During this moment, President Jokowi said that ASEAN must become a region with dignity and uphold human and democratic values.

Of course, as the holder of ASEAN chairmanship, Indonesia automatically becomes the home for the ASEAN Summit or ASEAN Summit 2023, which is an honor for Indonesia. As the host of the 2023 ASEAN Summit as well, Indonesia raised the theme ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth.

Retno said that Indonesia wanted to make ASEAN Resilience and become a barometer of cooperation that could contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the world region.

The 2023 ASEAN Chair takes the theme ‘ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth’, through ASEAN Matters, Indonesia is determined to make ASEAN remain important and relevant to the people of ASEAN and beyond. In this regard, the future of ASEAN must begin to be prepared to welcome ASEAN 2025. An explanation of this theme was conveyed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi, at the 2023 Annual Press Conference of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (PPTM) which was held in the Nusantara Room, Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building, Jakarta . At that time, Retno said that the centrality of ASEAN must be strengthened in order to be able to maintain peace, stability, prosperity in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific. 

Meanwhile, through the ‘Epicentrum of Growth’ sub-theme, Indonesia is determined to continue to make Southeast Asia a center of economic growth, where with ASEAN under the ‘Epicentrum of Growth’ sub-theme some cooperation will be strengthened. Among them, regional food security, energy security, health and financial cooperation.

ASEAN is expected to be a catalyst for inclusive economic recovery for the region and for other countries. The ASEAN Summit is also expected to produce various concrete agreements and achievements, for the sake of common interests and prosperity. Thus Indonesia seeks to strengthen ASEAN’s position as a region that is stable and peaceful and consistently upholds international law, strengthens cooperation and does not become a proxy for any power, so that ASEAN is able to become a region that is strong, inclusive, and has sustainable economic growth.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, at the 13th General Conference Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP), said, through the theme ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth, Indonesia seeks to prepare ASEAN to be more advanced by providing solutions to various strategic issues in area. For this reason, strong collaboration is expected to be formed between ASEAN members in order to achieve this goal.

Airlangga also revealed that President Jokowi believes that by 2045, ASEAN will become a group of countries that are more adaptive, responsive, competitive, in line with ASEAN’s global agenda.

ASEAN 2023 produces solutions to various issues such as food security, energy security, financial cooperation, overcoming global supply chain disruptions, mitigating climate change, and responding to instability in the region. In addition, Indonesia also has a target of accelerating the Digital Economic Framework Agreement, where previously Indonesia has made agreements with Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines regarding an integrated digital payment system to facilitate payments and strengthen currencies in the region. It is hoped that in the future, various countries in ASEAN can participate in integrating the digital payment system.

The eyes of the world are once again fixed on Indonesia. The ASEAN Summit Summit in Labuan Bajo and Jakarta in 2023 is expected to make ASEAN a fast-growing, inclusive, sustainable and competitive economic region. Making ASEAN important, not only for Indonesia, but also for ASEAN and the world. []

Author: Reenee Winda A. (senior contributor / Political Economy Observer)

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