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ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members vowed to collaborate on strengthening the impact of ASEAN research, as well as generate knowledge of regional relevance, by signing the Joint Statement on Promoting ASEAN Higher Education Research Clusters in November 2010. The Statement was signed at the First Conference on Pioneering ASEAN Higher Education Research Clusters held on 26-27 November 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand, where signatories were driven by an aspiration to accelerate the establishment of the “ASEAN Community” (originally expected for 2020) by 2015.
The concept of the ASEAN Community was born in 2003. At that time, ASEAN leaders agreed on three community pillars—namely, “political and security community”, “economic community”, and “socio-cultural community”—to support the establishment of an ASEAN Community. Education is the top priority of the socio-cultural community, for which concrete actions are outlined in a “Blueprint” document adopted in 2009. Among the various steps articulated in the Blueprint, “promoting education networking” is now explicitly addressed by the Joint Statement.
The EU has been supporting the establishment of the ASEAN Community. It is envisaged that cooperation between the EU and the ASEAN Community will further deepen with the introduction of a broad range of programmes that aim to meet ASEAN needs and priorities. Greece, for example, has taken the lead in engaging the ASEAN Community by initiating a closer ASEAN-Greece cooperation in retrieval of archaeological artefacts and preservation of historical sites. Currently, ASEAN has ten member states: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.The First Conference on Pioneering ASEAN Higher Education Research Clusters ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint