Jakarta (ANTARA) - Amid increasingly complex global and geopolitical challenges, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has maintained its unity and centrality since its establishment in 1967.

The statement was voiced by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in his opening speech of the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta on Tuesday (September 5), when he emphasized that "ASEAN unity until this day has been maintained despite differences in opinion between its member countries".

Indonesia is holding the ASEAN chairmanship in 2023, with the theme of "ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth." The vision of Indonesia's chairmanship is to build a resilient, adaptive, and inclusive ASEAN.

The 43rd ASEAN Summit is taking place in Jakarta on September 5-7, following the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, in May 2023.

The summit is drawing participation from delegates representing 22 countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Canada, Australia, and Russia as partner countries of ASEAN. The Timor-Leste leader is also attending the summit as an observer.

In his opening speech of the 43rd ASEAN Summit's plenary session, Jokowi underscored that ASEAN unity does not mean that there are no differences in opinion between member countries.

He noted that Indonesia, as a country with diverse ethnicities, cultures, languages, and religions, views unity as harmony despite differences, including differences in opinion.

"Because differences in opinion, in fact, nurture democracy. It shows that we, as a family, are on an equal footing," he stated.

Jokowi then pushed ASEAN to further bolster its cohesiveness, boldness, and agility to optimally face current global challenges.

"ASEAN needs long-term tactical strategies that are relevant and in line with the expectations of communities," he stated.

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Editor: Anton Santoso
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