|Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính at the ASEAN Secretariat headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Saturday, — VNA/VNS Photo Dương Giang
Deputy foreign minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, who accompanied Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính on his trip to Indonesia to attend the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting over the weekend, talked to local media about the results and Việt Nam's contributions to the meeting.
The summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was held in a special circumstance this time. What was the meaning of Việt Nam’s delegation participating in the summit and our contributions?
The meeting was held when many other countries in the region are experiencing new severe outbreaks of coronavirus, however, most leaders still went ahead with an in-person meeting, which reflects the great commitment and determination of member nations to overcome challenges and together address emerging issues that ASEAN is facing.
That Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính decided to attend the meeting less than 20 days since his election demonstrates a spirit of initiative, proactiveness and responsibility of Việt Nam in ASEAN affairs.
Given its status in ASEAN, especially after the 2020 ASEAN chairmanship, and that the country is the only ASEAN member in the United Nations Security Council and is currently the Chair of the Security Council in April 2021, Việt Nam’s contribution is highly anticipated by the international and regional communities. The Vietnamese delegation led by Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính met expectations.
We made our presence and positive, substantial contributions to the meeting on many items on the agenda, in accordance with the spirit of a responsible member working hard for the common affairs of the “great ASEAN family.”
Opinions and proposals of Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính at the meeting were met with approval and consensus from other leaders of ASEAN member nations, as they target concerns and priorities of ASEAN at the moment, especially with regards to COVID-19 prevention and control efforts, promoting recovery and effective responses to arising issues.
The Prime Minister also skilfully built up the results attained in the Việt Nam's Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2020 and interwove issues of particular relevance to Việt Nam such as the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea) and the Mekong region into ASEAN cooperation orientations.
The Vietnamese Government leader suggested that ASEAN should pay attention to narrowing the development gap in sub-regions, including the Mekong, to ensure that no regions are left behind, especially as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are widening the development difference within the bloc.
In order to maintain ASEAN’s centrality in the complex, evolving strategic environment, the Prime Minister has remarked that the trust and goodwill of all parties should be demonstrated by practical actions and that parties should avoid actions that escalate tension and complicate the situation.
Prime Minister Chính has emphasised that ASEAN needs to uphold its stated principles and stance on the South China Sea issue, including the commitment to maintaining peace, stability, security and safety of navigation and aviation, compliance with international laws, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, strict implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea, and to working towards the completion of effective and substantial Code of Conduct (COC).
Sharing the views of the leaders of ASEAN nations on international and regional concerns, including the situation in Myanmar, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính affirmed the respect for the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of states. However, in the spirit of ASEAN Community’s solidarity, the bloc cannot stay indifferent to emerging issues affecting regional stability and development.
Our Prime Minister’s proposals on how ASEAN can participate in assisting Myanmar are in line with the shared opinions of the ASEAN Leaders, that means, it is necessary to send an envoy of ASEAN to Myanmar to explore the real situation, hold talks with the stakeholders there, promote dialogue, seek solutions, while ensure humanitarian assistance efforts for citizens are stepped up at the same time.
Referring to Việt Nam’s efforts as a non-permanent member and President of the United Nations Security Council in April this year to maintain a balanced discussions on the situation of Myanmar at the council, the Prime Minister suggested ASEAN countries and Myanmar work closely with Việt Nam to mobilise international partners’ support for the role of ASEAN in finding suitable, feasible, and substantial solutions that can fundamentally resolve the Myanmar issue.
To sum up, it can be said that Việt Nam’s strategic, substantial and effective contributions, through the Prime Minister’s statements at the meeting together with ASEAN members, have indeed continued to affirm the image and imprints of Việt Nam in ASEAN and have contributed significantly to the beyond expectation success of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting – the first in-person high-level meeting of ASEAN in 2021 and 18 months since ASEAN conferences having to move online due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Within the framework of the meeting, the Prime Minister has also held bilateral talks with participating state leaders. What have been the results of these activities?
In a very short time, less than two days, in addition to attending the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính has conducted a series of bilateral activities with leaders of ASEAN countries such as President of Indonesia Joko Widodo (host country of the leaders’ meeting), Sultan of Brunei Darussalam Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Chairman of ASEAN 2021), Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
In addition, during the two-day meeting, the heads of delegations from other countries such as Laos, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar have greeted and congratulated the Prime Minister on his election, and expressed their hope that the Prime Minister would pay attention to promote bilateral relations.
The Prime Minister's first high-level external relation activities with important partners in ASEAN have manifested Việt Nam’s foreign policy as stated in the documents of the 13th National Party Congress, which is giving priority to developing cooperation and traditional friendship with neighbouring countries and ASEAN.
This was also an opportunity for the Prime Minister to meet face-to-face with heads of states and senior officials from countries in the region.
The talks and receptions took place in a friendly, open and sincere atmosphere. The leaders of the countries congratulated the Government leader for having earned the confidence of the National Assembly, expressed their appreciation towards Việt Nam’s role and position, and lauded Việt Nam’s achievements in the fight against COVID-19 alongside the maintenance of economic development momentum.
Our Prime Minister discussed many strategic issues with leaders of countries, laying out important visions and orientations for relations with other countries as well as specific and substantive measures to promote comprehensive and effective cooperation.
Our Prime Minister and leaders of the countries agreed on many measures to bolster effective, substantive bilateral cooperation, especially in terms of economics, trade, investment, and practical support to the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts.
Specific targets have been agreed, such as doubling two-way trade turnover with Brunei, soon bringing two-way trade with Indonesia to US$10 billion, with Malaysia to $15 billion, solutions and support to remove barriers and facilitate enterprises’ expansion of their trade and production and to help attract investment, resumption of flight routes and establishment of safe travel corridor, stepping up cooperation in education and training, agriculture- fisheries, environment and climate change, marine and ocean cooperation, including law enforcement at sea.
The Prime Minister also agreed with the ASEAN leaders to closely coordinate and support each other at international forums, especially with regards to strengthening ASEAN’s centrality as well as consolidating ASEAN’s ties with the United Nations.
In terms of security and regional and international strategic issues of mutual interest, he had reaffirmed Việt Nam’s consistent stance on the South China Sea issue, underlining the importance of compliance with international laws, including UNCLOS 1982.
Also on this occasion, the Prime Minister suggested countries continue to create favourable conditions to support the Vietnamese community living and doing businesses there, especially ensuring their safety against COVID-19, facilitating the transit and repatriation flights bringing Vietnamese people back home given the current complicated outbreak development in some regions.
The results of the bilateral activities have created a solid foundation for the implementation of our foreign policy right from the beginning of the new government’s tenure, as well as a marked a positive start to cooperation, friendship and cordial relations between the new Prime Minister of Việt Nam and leaders of ASEAN countries. — VNS