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 Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

It is a great honour for me to be here today amongst a distinguished gathering of which I am indeed proud to be a part. It is also appropriate that we are meeting here in Istanbul, the Queen of the Cities and the crossroads of cultures from time immemorial

First and foremost, may I reiterate the sentiments already expressed by all our colleagues in thanking the Government of the Republic of Turkey for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements as well as congratulating Turkey as the new Chair of CICA. My thanks also go to the CICA Secretariat for the close cooperation and continued support extended to the CICA process and Thailand over the past years.

Secondly, let me take this opportunity to join in welcoming the Republic of Iraq and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as the latest members of jour CICA family. 

Thirdly, I wish to also take this opportunity to express my appreciation and profound thanks on behalf of the Government and people of Thailand, to you and your respective Governments of your understanding and support at this challenging time of the Thai society and people. We recognize the concept of interconnectivity and the fact that the stability of our country is deeply linked to the regions near and far. I would like you all to rest assured that the Royal Thai Government is doing everything it can to move democratic Thailand forward on the road of reconciliation and to again shine forth as a beacon of dynamism and prosperity for our legion. As we move ahead with confidence, your friendship and encouragement will be much welcome and appreciated.

Mr. Chairman,

The size, diversity as well as similarity of the Asian continent is both our strength and our challenge. We each cannot truly hope to realize our true potentials without looking beyond our national boundaries and reaching out to help and cooperate with one another with trust and confidence.

This is the reason why we are honoured to have been the only voice of Southeast Asia in CICA for the past six years. The membership of our neighbor and fellow member of ASEAN, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the CICA family will certainly help to enhance linkages and connectivity between the west and east Asia.

Mr. Chairman,

In over 42 years of the ASEAN experience and 16 years of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), we in Southeast Asia have developed some experiences that have been helpful in cultivating our environment conducive to peace, stability and prosperity.

We have been able to promote trust and confidence in ASEAN through constant interaction and dialogue amongst various stakeholders from Member States. Through political will, we accentuate our common grounds and deemphasize our differences. We develop codes of conduct in areas where we have mutual interest and undertake joint activities to solve common challenges from terrorism to transnational crimes to cross-border problems. We have been utilizing Track II organizations to sound out innovative ideas for confidence-building measures (CBMs). Within the ARE context, we have been able to develop specific CBM activities such as an annual security outlook and are exploring feasible preventive diplomacy measures. These ASEAN measures and ideas are worth exploring in the CICA framework.

Mr. Chairman,

Southeast Asia is the cross roads and the home of three of the world's major religions. That the region has managed to give rise to ASEAN is a reflection of the strength of tolerance and mutual respect which needs to be nurtured continuously. ASEAN continues to do this through inter-faith dialogue and religious tolerance and freedom of expression.

We in ASEAN have also sought to promote shared values. Under the ASEAN Charter of 2008, one of the most important aims is the promotion and protection of human rights, the pursuit of good governance and respect for the rule of law. These shared and targeted values are at the foundation of our ongoing efforts to develop a rules-based Community that is people-oriented. In the long-run, it may be helpful for CICA to explore whether shared values of this sort could evolve out of our constructive cooperation within CICA.

In sum, there are many experiences that ASEAN, the ARF and other organizations can share with CICA and many potential areas of cooperation between these organizations. There could be multiple forms of possible cooperation as well as connectivity between ASEAN and CICA, be they intellectual, cultural or on other areas. Through mutual learning and sharing of information and ideas, CICA and ASEAN and other organizations could benefit and grow.

Mr. Chairman,

Like our friends and colleagues in CICA, we have our common interests and aspirations. We want to realize a more prosperous and peaceful world. We hope to enhance peace and stability, to expand education and opportunities, to ensure that our people all not only can take pride in their human dignity, but also achieve their universal objective of a better life and a brighter future. We share a common mission in alleviating poverty and in fighting illiteracy and epidemic diseases; we have a common interest in handling the financial crisis, in confronting climate change as well as in defeating extremism and terrorism.

Thailand is also an active player at the international level. We always stand ready to support fellow nations suffering from the impacts of natural disaster. We have been providing many fellow nations with the technical know-how in areas where we have expertise, such as in agriculture, health care and tourism. In so doing, we take joy in the opportunity to promoting greater friendship and understanding amongst peoples and civilizations, and in enhancing connectivity, cooperation and companionship not only between nations, but between individuals. We therefore see CICA as the umbrella for our "family" to come together, to provide a place for the meeting of minds as we endeavor to address the challenges we face together.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me stress that the relationship between Thailand and CICA is stronger than ever. We believe that our future cooperation should be wide-ranging and comprehensive. We believe that there is much more that we can do together. Many of the interests of the CICA member states are areas where Thailand could offer its particular expertise. We therefore look forward to working together with you to confront our common challenges, to seek new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation, and to live in peace, security and lasting prosperity.

Thank you.