PHNOM PENH (Cambodia Herald) - Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations still faced many challenges despite the group's achievements.
"ASEAN still continues to face challenges, both globally and regionally," he told the opening session of the annual meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers.
The prime minister pointed to "the fragility of the economic recovery of developed countries, coupled with prolonged severe debt crisis in Europe."
Other challenges include "ongoing social and political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, high oil prices, food and energy security, climate change, natural disasters, terrorism and transnational crime," he said.
"All these still pose a great threat to the sustainability of socio-economic development of ASEAN achieved over the last four decades and the success of our efforts towards realizing a full ASEAN Community in 2015."
Hun Sen also noted that the development gap was "still huge" among ASEAN members. "This requires us to double our efforts to promote further growth and improve equitable distribution of the fruits of growth at both national and regional levels among the member countries," he said.
"Narrowing such development gaps is not only a pre-condition for ensuring ASEAN competitiveness and reducing poverty of our peoples but also for helping ASEAN achieve real regional integration and promoting its centrality in broader regional and world affairs," the prime minister added.