International friends hail Việt Nam’s contributions to ASEAN community building

July 28, 2023 - 08:36
Việt Nam’s engagement in ASEAN activities has helped not only attract external resources to be combined with the internal strength to serve national development and safeguarding, but also substantially contribute to the protection and promotion of peace, stability, cooperation, and development of the bloc.
Việt Nam's then foreign minister Nguyễn Mạnh Cầm (second from right) and general secretaries and foreign ministers of other ASEAN countries at the ceremony to officially recognise Việt Nam as the seventh member of ASEAN in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on July 28, 1995. – VNA/VNS Photo Trần Sơn

VIENTIANE – Since joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 28 years ago, Việt Nam has shown itself as an active, proactive, and responsible member of the bloc, said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Laos Thongphane Savanphet.

Talking to the Vietnam News Agency, he said Việt Nam’s entry into ASEAN and its activities within the bloc’s cooperation framework over the past 28 years have reflected the success of the country’s Đổi mới (Renewal) and its foreign policy in reinforcing and developing cooperation with all countries in the world, including Southeast Asia. They have also demonstrated Việt Nam’s growing stature in the regional and international arenas.

Việt Nam’s engagement in ASEAN activities has helped not only attract external resources to be combined with the internal strength to serve national development and safeguarding, but also substantially contribute to the protection and promotion of peace, stability, cooperation, and development of the bloc, he went on.

The Lao official elaborated that over the past 28 years, Việt Nam has made important contributions to common work of ASEAN and obtained outstanding achievements in many aspects, including the building of the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Vision 2020, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and the ASEAN Regional Forum Hà Nội Plan of Action; post-pandemic economic recovery; the ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies; the Initiative for ASEAN Integration; and its chairmanship of ASEAN in 1998, 2010, and 2020.

As ASEAN Chair three times, Việt Nam proposed many initiatives and documents which became important stepping stones for intra-bloc cooperation, the building of the ASEAN Community, and the bloc’s cooperation with external partners.

Under the chairmanship of Việt Nam in 2020, when the region and the world were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, ASEAN held online meetings during which its members built cooperation plans and other solutions to promote the three pillars of the ASEAN Community; cooperation with external partners to cope with the pandemic and its adverse impacts; and continue building a stronger Community and enhancing the bloc’s solidarity and centrality in an evolving regional architecture, thereby contributing to the realisation of the grouping’s common targets and regional and global peace, stability, and sustainable development, according to the Lao official.

He perceived that Việt Nam’s membership of ASEAN since July 28, 1995, is also a contributor to the country’s socio-economic development, helping the economy boost foreign investment and trade, create jobs, and record continuous growth.

Besides, the ASEAN membership of Việt Nam also provided an impetus for Laos to join the bloc two years later, the Deputy Foreign Minister said, noting that after engaging in ASEAN, on the basis of their great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation, the two countries have continued fostering traditional cooperation and mutual assistance.

Leaders of ASEAN countries attend the 37th ASEAN Summit hosted by Việt Nam in November 2020. The summit was held via teleconference amid the complicated development of COVID-19. – VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất

He highlighted the countries’ traditional coordination and exchange of opinions within the ASEAN framework, and that Việt Nam has supported Laos’ chairmanship of the grouping in two previous terms as well as preparations for the third time Laos will serve in this role in 2024.

The official stressed the close cooperation and mutual assistance between Việt Nam and Laos in ASEAN have significantly contributed to their great friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation.

He voiced his belief that they will keep strengthening these special ties in a more substantive and effective manner for the sake of the two peoples and for regional and global peace and development.

Meanwhile, Dr Balazs Szanto, a lecturer in political science at the Thai-based Chulalongkorn University, hailed Việt Nam for actively participating in ASEAN framework and made significant contributions to building a stronger and more reliable ASEAN community.

In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency regarding Việt Nam's 28 years of ASEAN membership in Bangkok, Szanto emphasised that the nation’s willingness to actively engage in the bloc shows that it is not just a formal entity but an organisation with an important role and influence in the region and beyond.

Concerning Việt Nam's motto of being "positive, proactive, and responsible" in ASEAN-related activities, the expert noted that promoting a more proactive approach is crucial to help the bloc be ready to cope with the changing international political landscape. It is a necessary change and a trend that needs to be encouraged within the association.

On post-COVID-19 economic recovery and growth, he expressed his belief that one of the main directions for ASEAN countries is to reduce dependence on exports and international tourism. Instead, they need to prioritise leading a strong internal market and having a robust consumer base within the bloc to drive economic development.

According to him, Việt Nam has been playing a positive role in reforming its economy and promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. These align with the country’s traditional values, which focus more on the solid foundation of domestic labour and consumers, rather than relying too much on foreign markets.

Constructive, responsible approach

Dr. Nguyễn Hồng Hải, a lecturer of the Queensland University of Technology’s School of Justice, said over the past 28 years since Việt Nam joined ASEAN, a constructive and responsible approach has consolidated Việt Nam’s position in the bloc.

Hải, who is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer of Policy and Politics at the School of Justice's Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, said that since 1995, Việt Nam's position, role, voice and even influence in ASEAN have been increasing.

Hải summarised Việt Nam’s five key contributions to the association's internal and external relations, which, he believed, affect the existence, solidarity, growth and voice of ASEAN in the region and in the world.

From the very beginning, Việt Nam participated in the development of and made important contributions to the birth of the 2007 ASEAN Charter which came into effect one year later. Principles underpinning the organisation's existence, peace, security and development in Southeast Asia, embodied in the Charter's provisions, were all contributed by Việt Nam.

Việt Nam has also made proposals and contributions to the building of the ASEAN Community which includes three pillars of ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

The expert also mentioned Việt Nam’s contributions to the approval of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) as well as its responsible but principled contributions in the spirit of the United Nations Charter and international law in resolving disputes and crises in the region, especially relations between ASEAN and China, and the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea) issue.

Việt Nam's contributions in this issue are, first and foremost, for the national interests, but its international law-based approach has contributed to ensuring and maintaining a Southeast Asian region, and a sea with sovereignty disputes but without armed conflicts, and maintaining peace for development. This approach is agreed upon and supported by all countries, Hải went on.

Việt Nam has also made contributions in its role as ASEAN's coordinator with partners outside the region, contributing to consolidating and strengthening ASEAN's central role in international and regional affairs. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2009-10 and 2020-21 terms, Việt Nam integrated regional issues into the council's agenda, helping raise the voice of the bloc at the UN peace and security forum.

Việt Nam has also actively participated in solving non-traditional security issues, mainly through ASEAN mechanisms and those led by ASEAN, especially in the fight against terrorism and transnational crimes, cyber security, maritime security, rescue and humanitarian assistance, he added. – VNS