JAKARTA, 8 August 2018 – ASEAN celebrated its 51st anniversary at the ASEAN Secretariat today with a series of community and youth engagement events, celebrating solidarity and continued unity and integration across borders.

The celebration was highlighted by a commemorative ceremony in the morning attended by the Foreign Minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning of Indonesia Sofyan Djalil, representatives of ASEAN Member States, Dialogue Partners, the diplomatic corps, civil society, international organisations, and entities associated with ASEAN.

In his opening remarks, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said, “ASEAN Day is about celebrating solidarity across borders and what this means to our people, by way of enhancing community outreach and cooperation whether economic, political-security, or socio-cultural.”

“We look forward to moving into our new building by the middle of 2019, marking a new era of modernization for the ASEAN Secretariat, and charting the next course of our future,” he said. “The new building not only represents a physical transformation for the ASEAN Secretariat and ASEAN, but it also paves the way for a more integrated and conducive community-type atmosphere.”

“There will be opportunity for more community engagement with academia, development partners, civil society organizations, private sector, and others, strengthening our ASEAN motto – One Vision, One Identity, and One Caring and Sharing Community,” he added.

Meanwhile, in her speech, Minister Retno said that the anniversary of ASEAN was the moment to reflect upon the bloc’s departing point, where it is today, where it is heading. “Looking back, ASEAN helped transform Southeast Asia from an area of enmity into a region of amity; from a pocket of poverty into a land of opportunities, and; from a zone of instability into an ecosystem of peace, stability, and prosperity. Nonetheless, our success should not make us complacent. ASEAN centrality must be continuously earned and nurtured,” the minister underlined.

The commemorative programme featured a symbolic cake cutting ceremony, musical performances by children, a video presentation of the ASEAN Secretariat’s new building, and the launch of the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation’s website.

Later in the day, ASEAN and the European Union (EU) launched the EU-ASEAN Blue Book 2018, a publication which provides an overview of development cooperation between the two regional institutions. Both sides also marked the opening of the ASEAN-EU Cooperation and Scholarships Day which showcased ASEAN-EU cooperation programmes and scholarship opportunities from ASEAN and the EU Member States.

Further, the 51st ASEAN Day celebrations featured the official launch of eMpowering Youths Across ASEAN, a partnership programme between Maybank Foundation and the ASEAN Foundation. Through this programme, 100 talented ASEAN youths between the ages of 19 to 35 will be selected to take part in an intensive capacity building workshop. This select group will later be deployed in select community areas in Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia to begin their year-long journey of creating impactful initiatives for the community.

Another highlight of the day was the launch of the ASEAN Artists Residency programme in support of the arts community across the Member States.  The programme kick-started with a mini-exhibition of Entang Wiharso, one of Indonesia’s leading contemporary artists, at the ASEAN Gallery. The Artists Residency Programme underlines ASEAN’s commitment to promote and instil appreciation for arts and culture in the region among ASEAN citizens with a view to enhancing people-to-people connectivity.