Jakarta: Indonesia has already begun its preparation for hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, which will take place in the country’s eastern province of East Nusa Tenggara in May, with the theme of “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”.
As Southeast Asia’s largest economy, Indonesia has taken over the chairmanship of the regional bloc for 2023 from Cambodia, where the ASEAN Summit was held last November, reports Xinhua news agency.
However, the country formally commenced its ASEAN chairmanship on the first day of this year.
The last time Indonesia chaired ASEAN was in 2011.
Other ASEAN members had high expectations for Indonesia’s chairmanship since the archipelagic country has managed to host the world’s influential Group of 20 Summit last year amid global challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war that have led to an enduring global food and energy crisis.
After completing the G20 presidency on the island of Bali, one of the world’s best tourist destinations, in October 2022, Indonesia has chosen its other tourist destination of Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara province as the location for the ASEAN summit.
Labuan Bajo, the gateway to the popular Komodo National Park, is one of the “10 New Bali” choices, a government-designated priority destinations spanning across the archipelago.
The destinations include Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Borobudur in Central Java, Bromo Tengger Semeru in East Java, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, and Morotai in North Maluku.
In the past years, President Joko Widodo repeatedly said developments on Labuan Bajo must be accelerated as the tourism destination will host international events in the years to come.
Last week, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was in Labuan Bajo for a three-day-visit, as a part of her tour to inspect its readiness to host the bloc’s biannual summit. She reportedly visited some facilities, such as hotels, convention centres and tourist spots that will be used.
ASEAN currently groups Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. At the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia last year, the leaders of the group agreed “in principle” to admit Timor-Leste as their 11th member.
Minister Marsudi said on Wednesday that Indonesia, as the ASEAN chair this year, is aiming to make the bloc strong and become a barometer of cooperation that can contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world.
With the theme of “ASEAN Matters”, she explained, Indonesia is determined to make the group remain important and relevant to the people both within and outside ASEAN.
Marsudi emphasized that Indonesia also encourages the bloc to start preparing for ASEAN 2045 by strengthening the region’s centrality in a bid to maintain stability and peace in Southeast Asia and beyond.