Việt Nam’s Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh said yesterday that ASEAN should focus more on improving the quality of people’s lives, ensuring that all benefit equally from the building of the ASEAN Community. — VNA/VNS Photo Xuân Vịnh
Boracay – Việt Nam’s Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh said yesterday that ASEAN should focus more on improving the quality of people’s lives, ensuring that all benefit equally from the building of the ASEAN Community.
Addressing an ASEAN foreign ministers’ retreat in Boracay, the Philippines, Minh, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, stressed the need to foster the intra-bloc economic connectivity and cooperation, as well as the strengthening of the bloc’s attraction as a close-knit regional economy.
"It is also necessary to narrow down the development gap, while improving infrastructure connections and paying more attention to the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the business community’s engagement in the regional connectivity process," he said.
On regional and international issues, Minh laid special stress on peace, stability and security as the building blocks of the prosperity and development in the region. The current "complicated and unexpected situation" requires ASEAN to promote its common voice in tackling strategic matters, turning challenges into opportunities, upholding the supremacy of law and code of conduct in relations among countries, according to the Vietnamese FM.
Minh suggested fostering measures to build trust, prevent conflicts, and issue early alerts on disputes, underscoring the importance of respecting and complying with international law. He also stressed the need for ASEAN to strengthen collaboration in coping with challenges amid growing non-traditional security challenges like climate change and piracy, asking for intensive sharing of information and close collaboration to prevent piracy to ensure safety for people and property crossing the region.
On the East Sea issue, Minh raised his concern about complicated developments in the sea, emphasising that ASEAN should reinforce solidarity and unity, while promoting existing shared stances.
He also underlined the significance of the peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), respect for diplomatic and legal processes, strengthening consultations and dialogues on the East Sea, fully implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and striving to reach a framework of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in mid-2017.
During the two-day retreat, participants adopted the ASEAN Year 2017 theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World” and approved six priorities proposed by the Philippines as the ASEAN Chair in 2017, including building a people-centred ASEAN; promoting regional peace and stability; reinforcing maritime security and cooperation; advancing inclusive, innovation-led growth; strengthening ASEAN resiliency and promoting ASEAN as a model of regional cooperation.
They acknowledged the need to maintain dialogues to soothe the tension, stressed the importance of promoting trust, exercising self-restraint, avoiding activities that complicate the situation, peacefully tackling disputes, and not using or threatening to use force. -VNS