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What is Thailand’s role in ASEAN? What are Thailand’s contributions towards the evolution of ASEAN? Thailand joined Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore in establishing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), signing the Bangkok Declaration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand on 8 August 1967. ASEAN was conceived with an aim to promote peace and accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in a spirit of equality and partnership. It evolved to become a main driving force for the region and later on expanded to include every country within the region. ASEAN has been a main pillar of Thai foreign policy. With its policy to transform the battlefield in Southeast Asia into a marketplace, Thailand proposed in 1992 an ASEAN Free Trade Area which would transform the entire ASEAN region into one huge market by the year 2003. Then in 1994, the Kingdom hosted the first ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), a forum for political and security dialogue which brings together all major powers in the region. Thailand has continuously and actively contributed to ASEAN’s greater integration and its goal of becoming an ASEAN community by 2015. On 24 July 2008, the Kingdom was entrusted with the duty of the ASEAN Chairmanship. An important fact that makes the Thai Chairmanship exceptional is that the ASEAN Charter, outlining the guiding principles for the new ASEAN, came into force on 15 December 2008, five months into its chairmanship. Besides putting the priority of realising the commitment under the ASEAN Charter, Thailand also emphasised the importance of making ASEAN a people-centred community and of reinforcing human development and human security for all. To further reinforce Thailand’s aspiration to deliver the benefits to all the Peoples of ASEAN, the theme of the 14th ASEAN Summit which Thailand hosted in Cha-Am Hua Hin on 27 February – 1 March 2009 was “ASEAN Charter for...
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