Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi conveys that the principal of people-centered, people-oriented ASEAN must mean more than just a slogan.

Marsudi is attending the ASEAN Retreat ministerial meeting in Boracay Island, the Philippines, Feb 20-21, as the opening of series of ASEAN meetings this year under the theme of "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World".

There will be six priorities to be concerned by ASEAN under the leadership of the Philippines which are people-centered, people-oriented ASEAN, peace and stability in the region, cooperation and maritime security, inclusive economic growth based on innovation, ASEAN resilience, as well as ASEAN as regionalism model and global player.

On the first session discussing ASEAN 2017 priorities and following up the 28th and 29th ASEAN summit, Minister Marsudi emphasizes the importance of ASEAN to provide concrete benefits for its people.

"Only by giving the concrete benefits, ASEAN will remain relevant for its community," she said in the statement issued here on Tuesday.

Among those six priorities, Marsudi is focusing on the realization of the agreement signed by head of states to enhance maritime security in the ASEAN.

She revealed that the largest victims of hostage in the Sulu and Sabah sea in the last two years were Indonesians.

Indonesian government has particularly taken various initiatives to help improve the security in the ASEAN seas by, for example, carrying out joint patrols.

"Every country has the responsibility to maintain the security in their waters. Hence, Indonesia calls for ASEAN member countries to take measures to improve maritime security, especially in Sulu sea and Sabah waters," Marsudi noted.

In the field of economy and ASEAN connectivity, Indonesia encourages for progress in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations.

In addition, the archipelagic country is also welcoming the plan to launch Roll-On Roll Off cruise line ship between Bitung city and General Santos and Davao in the Philippines, as the real effort to improve ASEAN economic integrity.

"RCEP should not only aim to improve the economies of ASEAN and its partner countries, but also must become a good example of free and fair trade agreements," Marsudi remarked.

She also emphasized the importance for strengthening competitive advantages of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which is considered to have important role and comparative excellence in the ASEAN economy.

To that end, SMEs in ASEAN will be more empowered with the greater access to the source of funding, digital economy, and science.

To ensure the implementation of many agreements signed in the previous ASEAN summit, Marsudi mentions some initiatives related to Indonesia such as in the fields of contra-terrorism, maritime cooperation, smog handling, and cultural cooperation with the partners countries of ASEAN.

"Indonesia will continue to take initiatives to promote ASEAN cooperation in realizing security, stability, and welfare in the region," she said.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2017