Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn
HÀ NỘI – Through global ups and downs over the past more than five decades, the role and mettle of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been reinforced and sharpened, making the bloc more complete and become stronger, Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn has stressed in an article on the occasion of the association’s 54th founding anniversary (August 8, 1967-2021).
Sơn highlighted that ASEAN had been one of the most important and successful regional organisations in the world, leading a wide and deep connectivity process, creating and maintaining peace, stability and development in Southeast Asia and the entire region.
From a group of war-divided countries, ASEAN had risen to a 10-member bloc with more than 650 million people having diverse cultural identities and a giant economic community having the fifth largest combined GDP in the world, a trust-worthy partner of many countries and an organisation playing a central role in dialogue, cooperation and connectivity processes in the region, he noted.
The formation of an ASEAN Community with three key pillars of ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, is evidence for the bloc’s vitality, promoting the regional connectivity process to a new height for peace, cooperation and prosperous development, the article says.
The minister underscored fundamental principles of the bloc, including solidarity, consensus and not interfering in internal affairs of member states, stressing that ASEAN member countries had been supporting each other in overcoming adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “ASEAN Manner” of solidarity and unity has helped the association and its members overcome tough times in the region and the world, turning the bloc into a more mature organisation with a higher role in the region.
Thanks to its prestige, position and central role, the association has expanded external relations and received support from the international community.
So far, ASEAN has set up dialogue partnerships with 11 countries and important organisations. Many standpoints and regulations of ASEAN, such as the ASEAN Charter, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) have been supported and welcomed by the international community and partners.
On the basis of respecting international law and settling disputes and differences through peaceful measures in line with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ASEAN has made important contributions to maintaining a peaceful and stable environment in the East Sea, which have been supported by the international community, the article says.
In terms of economic integration, so far, intra-bloc trade has accounted for about 25 percent of the total trade revenue of the whole bloc. The effective implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community is pushing the association closer to a united market with a scale of nearly US$3 trillion. Besides, the association is also the centre of an expanded economic space with a network of eight free trade agreements (FTA), including the ASEAN Free Trade Area and seven FTAs with important partners, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), creating a free trade area accounting for 30 percent of the population and 32 percent of GDP of the world.
Over the past 54 years, ASEAN can be proud of itself as a successful regional connectivity model. The bloc’s achievements laid a foundation for ASEAN to be optimistic about the future growth of the grouping, the article stresses.
Sơn underlined that ASEAN had been placed at an important position in the external policy and international integration of Vietnam. "ASEAN is a gateway to bring Vietnam to wider playgrounds in the region and the world. Joining ASEAN is a decision of strategic vision of the Party and State, contributing to establishing a new development status for the country, reinforcing a peaceful and stable environment and optimising external resources for the country’s development and enhancement of its position."
Vietnam has seriously implemented its commitments and obligations as an ASEAN member, while making various important contributions to the promotion of intra-bloc solidarity, the building of the ASEAN Community and the implementation of the ASEAN Vision 2025, the article says.
Vietnam had performed the role of the ASEAN Chair three times, all in tough times of the association, Sơn noted. In the 2000-2001 period, the association entered a transitional period in Community building after experiencing the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998. In 2010, the association realised its Community vision amid the serious impacts of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Meanwhile, the year of 2020 saw the outbreak of COVID-19 on a global scale, leading to complicated changes in the international situation.
With the cohesive and responsive spirit and the persistence to ASEAN principles, Việt Nam had joined hands with other ASEAN members to drive the association through hard times, actively adapting and responding to the new situation, firmly maintaining the trend of cooperation and connectivity in the region, affirming the central role and enhancing the position of the association. Many initiatives put forward by Việt Nam in 2020 had become a shared property of ASEAN, including the ASEAN COVID-19 Respond Fund and the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies.
Realising its foreign policy set by the 13th National Party Congress and with a new status after 35 years of “Đổi Mới” (Renewal), Việt Nam had continued to work with other ASEAN members to build a Community of solidarity and strength, firmly holding the central role in the regional security architecture.
Vietnam would continue to make efforts to effectively implement initiatives and agreements, contributing to the settlement of common issues of ASEAN and the region, affirmed Sơn, stressing the need to foster coordination among ministries, sectors, localities and businesses in promoting ASEAN cooperation, with focus on personnel training.
The way ahead may be tough, but with the promotion of the ASEAN manner and unique value, along with the determination and great development potential of member countries, ASEAN would make new chapters of success in building the ASEAN Community of solidarity, strength, self-reliance, bringing about benefits to all members and making important contributions to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
“Việt Nam will continue to spare no efforts, together with ASEAN, to realise this fine goal,” Sơn concluded. VNS