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Value ASEAN’s peace: Indonesia FM

JAKARTA (Bernama) — The people of ASEAN should recognise the importance of peace, especially in light of the situation in Gaza, the United Nations Security Council’s limitations in maintaining peace, and the fact people are living in an increasingly polarised world, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.

She said they should be grateful for the peace and stability that the region has enjoyed for over five decades and should not take ‘peace’ for granted.

“Peace doesn’t just fall from the sky. We must actively maintain it. We, as ASEAN, need to work diligently to preserve it,” she said at the 7th ASEAN Media Forum (AMF): Conversation with the ASEAN Chair, held here on Tuesday.

Regarding the situation in Gaza, Indonesia was one of the countries that pushed for the Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly and co-sponsored a resolution to protect civilians.

ASEAN foreign ministers had strongly condemned the acts of violence against civilians, including its nationals, urged for an immediate end to violence, and create a humanitarian passage, she said.

Retno also highlighted the increasingly complex world, with issues such as escalating major power rivalries, a more divided world, and food and energy crises, along with ongoing conflicts.

Internally, the region is also grappling with the Myanmar issue, she said, while emphasising that Indonesia as the chair of ASEAN in 2023 is directing its efforts toward addressing these challenges.

The minister also posed a thought-provoking question: “Can you imagine the Southeast Asian Region without ASEAN? Can there be peace, stability, and prosperity without ASEAN?”

The forum, organised by the ASEAN Secretariat with support from the German Federal Government through the Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit, was attended by over 40 ASEAN media practitioners.

In her critical assessment, Retno pointed out the scarcity of peace stories related to stories of conflict and war, stating that ASEAN’s imperfections often overshadow its numerous achievements.

On a positive note, she stated, “One thing is for sure: ASEAN has made significant contributions to peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.”

Retno outlined Indonesia’s achievements during its chairmanship, which include successfully managing tough negotiations, laying the foundation for ASEAN Community Vision 2045, and strengthening decision-making.

The country has so far enhanced regional cooperation in various sectors, translating the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific into concrete projects, welcoming new members, and fostering external partnerships.

Indonesia is continuing efforts in Myanmar through wider dialogue and humanitarian access expansion, remains committed to the people’s welfare and support the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus (5PC).

“It is regrettable that there hasn’t been as much progress in the 5PC,” Retno said, adding that the country will resume its role through the Troika, with the primary focus always on the people of Myanmar.