Top Stories : Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister  Chairs ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Hua Hin Media Center

Top Stories : Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Chairs ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Hua Hin

On 14 August 2013, Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, chaired the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ (AMM) Retreat in Hua Hin, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, to discuss developments in ASEAN, its direction and other issues of common concern.

Mr. Surapong led the discussions on the future of ASEAN, especially post-2015, and urged ASEAN to think ahead on how it would evolve after 2015. He suggested that ASEAN focus on enhancing collective capacity to address such trans-boundary challenges as trafficking in persons, illicit drugs, and disaster management, which would continue to pose important post-2015 challenges. ASEAN must focus more on the people’s agenda – issues that affect individuals directly, such as the promotion of universal health coverage, protection of human rights and engagement with all stakeholders in order to advance the ASEAN Community towards higher goals and achievement. Enhancing connectivity is equally important for real integration to take ASEAN beyond 2015. Mr. Surapong also recommended that ASEAN look beyond itself and reach out to new partners such as Africa and Latin America in order to focus on such issues as food and energy security, and poverty alleviation.

Mr. Surapong suggested that ASEAN review its work processes and strengthen its institutions to reinforce its capabilities, coordination and credibility. To make more effective progress, he proposed new and innovative ways to maximize the use of its resources and existing mechanisms. He also encouraged ASEAN member states to lend more support to the ASEAN Secretariat, including through sustained financial contributions so that it would be well-equipped to carry out all the assigned tasks, particularly on making progress in the three ASEAN Community pillars.

Mr. Surapong highlighted the importance of ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture. He suggested that ASEAN should strive towards a common and more coordinated position and speak with one voice on matters that affect the interest of ASEAN. ASEAN should also be more vigilant and continue to be engaged and work on a more rules-based regional architecture on global issues. He believed that this would raise ASEAN’s credibility and its standing in the global arena.

On ASEAN-China dialogue relations, Mr. Surapong emphasized the importance of maintaining the continuing the spirit of “constructive cooperation” for mutual trust and cordial relations between ASEAN and China, including through advancing trade facilitation and promoting ASEAN’s connectivity efforts with China. He looked forward to the convening of a Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers Meeting on 28 – 30 August 2013 in Beijing, to further discuss ways to enhance the strategic relations between ASEAN and China.

On the South China Sea, he was pleased that China had agreed to start official consultations with ASEAN at the senior officials’ level in September in order to discuss the Code of Conduct (CoC). He expressed the view that implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC) and development of the CoC must proceed in tandem. The CoC should be built upon the existing documents, including the DoC, and incorporate elements which would garner the commitment of all parties and raise the profile of the DoC.