Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc and President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and other ASEAN heads of states attended the bloc's summit in Philippines in 2017, the year marking the 50th founding anniversary of ASEAN. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
Vietnam News Agency talks to Noel Servigon, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Philippines to ASEAN, about Việt Nam's role in the bloc to mark the 25th anniversary (July 28) of the country’s entry
At the age of 53, the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is showing its youth, dynamic, development and seduction. What has created the value and identity of ASEAN? What will be the place for the regional bloc in the 'Asian Century'?
ASEAN has become one of the most important regional organisations in the world.
An economic dynamo and a major player in the region’s political-security architecture and the world, ASEAN has gone from strength to strength and has continuously adapted to rise to a myriad of challenges.
A key aspect of ASEAN’s strength as a regional organisation is the powerful sense of community, one that has been carefully nurtured through the decades, threading across the 10 very diverse member states, particularly among ASEAN’s leaders and policy-makers.
The triumph of co-operation and consensus over conflict continues to shape ASEAN’s achievements in a region that could have been so easily fraught with destabilising issues.
This has brought about an ecosystem of peaceful co-existence in the region and underpins the concerted efforts of member states towards common aspirations across the economic, socio-cultural and political areas.
As for ASEAN’s place in the future, we can already see its expanding sphere of influence outside the region. It has established a considerable convening power to bring many countries, including major powers, international and regional organisations to the table to collaborate on critical issues that have global consequences.
How do you evaluate the role and the contribution of Việt Nam after 25 years of joining ASEAN?
The first time I visited Việt Nam was in December 1998 when the country hosted for the first time an ASEAN Summit, just three years after it joined ASEAN.
Then 18 years after, I became the Philippine Ambassador to Việt Nam. I have seen the tremendous progress that Việt Nam has achieved in that time.
When ASEAN celebrated its Golden Year in 2017, it was heartwarming to witness the widespread enthusiasm exhibited at all levels of society in Việt Nam.
Since the Philippines was then the chair of ASEAN, I participated in all kinds of commemorative activities in different places in Việt Nam.
Indeed, from what I observed, the Vietnamese people hold their country's membership and engagement in the ASEAN community in the highest regard.
Việt Nam is an invaluable member of the ASEAN community of nations and has actively shepherded a number of important initiatives and led efforts that continue to enrich the ASEAN agenda and experience.
The positive effects born during Việt Nam’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2010 alone, with its theme 'Towards the ASEAN Community: From Vision to Action', continue to this very day, such as, to name a few, raising the profile of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty in multilateral fora, strengthening the East Asia Summit with the inclusion of more non-ASEAN Member States as participating countries, leading discussions on efforts to restore and sustain the financial health of the region which was recovering from a financial crisis, promoting sustainable development, narrowing the development gap in ASEAN, fostering infrastructure development and ASEAN connectivity.
As the Chair of ASEAN this year, what does Việt Nam need to do to continue building the ASEAN Community? What are the difficulties and challenges ASEAN will have to overcome at this time?
With the year 2020 comes the task of negotiating numerous successor Plans of Action with Dialogue Partners, as well as with the United Nations.
The Philippines appreciates Việt Nam’s leadership in ensuring these plans of action are finalised within the year and contributes to the further strengthening of ASEAN’s external relations while upholding the primacy of ASEAN centrality.
This year, Việt Nam also steers the efforts to conduct a comprehensive mid-term review of all community blueprints that guide economic, socio-cultural, and political policies.
The outcomes of these reviews will ensure ASEAN's growth and development continue on the correct path to secure a better collective future for all peoples of ASEAN.
This year has, of course, been marked by the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has touched every aspect of our lives.
Việt Nam’s leadership to manoeuvre ASEAN through this global crisis has been much appreciated as it entails leading discussions on, among others, the strengthening of existing mechanisms and the creation of new ones. Its remarkable success in containing the pandemic has served as a model not only in ASEAN but throughout the whole world. Our concerted efforts this year will help ensure that all member states emerge stronger and better equipped to respond and recover from future pandemics.
As a participant in the meetings of the ASEAN Senior Officials and the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN since the start of this year, I wish continued success to their respective chairmen, Deputy Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng and Ambassador Trần Đức Bình.VNS