Saturday, April 7, 2012


      Jakarta, April 7, 2012 (ANTARA) - The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) opened its own building for the first time in 1981, almost 14 years after the establishment of the regional group on August 8, 1967.
       Thanks to the Indonesian government`s gesture, the ASEAN Secretariat`s staff had finally moved to the new eight-storey building, located on Jalan Sisingamangaraja, Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, after previously being housed in temporary offices at Indonesia`s Foreign Affairs Ministry compound on Jalan Taman Pejambon.

      Indonesia president Soeharto officially inaugurated the ASAN Secretariat building on May 9, 1981, in the presence of the foreign ministers of the ASEAN member countries and the signatories of the Bangkok Declaration that marked the birth of ASEAN.
      In a joint communique issued during the 14th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Manila, June 1981, ASEAN foreign ministers stated that the inauguration of the new ASEAN Secretariat building by President Soeharto symbolized a new chapter in ASEAN unity and cooperation.
       ASEAN was made up of five member states - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand - when it was founded in 1967. But as other Southeast Asian countries saw the potential and synergy of the regional group, they applied to join and the ASEAN family grew in size.

That growth also saw ASEAN maturing in importance, and it attracted Dialogue Partners who felt they, too, had a stake in the group`s development, according to the ASEAN Secretariat�s website.

ASEAN now brings together Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.

In November 2011, some 30 years after donating the current Secretariat building, the Indonesian government, in November 2011, granted another extension to the offices of the ASEAN Secretariat to help ease the space crunch.

Foreign Minister Dr Marty Natalegawa handed over the keys to an additional office building for the ASEAN Secretariat to ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan as a gesture of Indonesia`s commitment to ASEAN at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre.

Further, Marty and Surin expressed the hope that the new extension would not only facilitate the Secretariat - but also all of ASEAN - to move to the next level of regional and international participation.

"The provision of the extended premises reflects the importance the Government of Indonesia attaches to the role of the ASEAN Secretariat in enhancing the cooperation within ASEAN, and between ASEAN and external partners. It also emphasizes the continued commitment of the Government of Indonesia to make Jakarta a diplomatic capital of the region," said Marty.

Located next to the ASEAN Secretariat, the new extension sits on a land area of 13,200 square meters, or slightly smaller than two soccer fields. Consisting of two buildings - four floors at the front and eight floors at the rear - the total area is more than 21,000 square meters. The premises were previously occupied by the office of the Mayor of South Jakarta.

The ASEAN Secretariat, indeed, needs additional office space, as ASEAN gains importance it creates a significant amount of work for the Secretariat. The Secretariat serves as the nerve centre that helps to co-ordinate the functions of all its parts.

"We have faced the space crunch for so many years, and we are delighted that the Indonesian government has come to our rescue," said Surin.

Demonstrating further Indonesia`s commitment to ASEAN, Minister Marty and Surin Pitsuwan signed an agreement between the Indonesian Government and ASEAN on Hosting and Granting Privileges and Immunities to the Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretariat on the sidelines of the ASEAN ministerial meeting in Phnom Penh on April 2, 2012.

The agreement is evidence of the important role played by the Indonesian government in hosting and facilitating the work of ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat, Surin said.

He believes that the Host Country Agreement sends an important message to the world about the importance placed on ASEAN by its member states.

"We really appreciate the commitment made by the government of the Republic of Indonesia. In this regard, we are pleased with the conclusion and signing of this important agreement," Surin Pitsuwan said following the signing, as reported on the ASEAN Secretariat�s website.

With its entry into the ASEAN Charter in 2008, the Host Country Agreement replaces the previous one concluded in 1979 and has been reached after a series of discussions and consultations between ASEAN and Indonesia.

Marty affirmed that the Host Country Agreement is the key legal instrument that embodies Indonesia`s continuing commitment and support to ASEAN, as host of the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta.

"This is, indeed, a momentous occasion that reflects the importance of ASEAN and the commitment that Indonesia and other ASEAN Member States attach to the work of ASEAN," Marty stated.

The signing was witnessed by nine ASEAN foreign ministers, permanent representatives to ASEAN, SOM leaders, delegates, and ASEAN Secretariat officers who attended the 20th ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN Secretariat said in a statement.

It sets out the duties and responsibilities of the parties, as well as the privileges and immunities granted by the Indonesian government to ASEAN, including the Secretariat, to enable it to perform its functions and operations effectively.

Indonesia held the ASEAN chairmanship last year. ASEAN`s significant progress towards the formation of an ASEAN Community 2015 was one of three priorities set by Indonesia during its one-year leadership.

At the handing over ceremony of the ASEAN Permanent Representative Head post at the ASEAN Secretariat last year, Minister Marty said ASEAN must have a measurable scorecard to assess achievements made by each ASEAN member country in implementing ASEAN policies politically, economically and socio-culturally.

Further, the ASEAN Secretariat will play an important role in measuring all achievements made by ASEAN member nations, he stated.

Indonesia officially took over the ASEAN Chairmanship from Viet Nam on 1 January 2011. Indonesia`s theme for its Chairmanship was the "ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations". Cambodia is now the ASEAN Chair for 2012. ***1***

(F001/ INE )

(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/F001) 07-04-2012 17:12:44

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