PHNOM PENH — Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh joined delegates from the nine other ASEAN member countries at the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting which began in Phnom Penh, Cambodia yesterday.
|Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (fifth from left) joins delegates from member countries at the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, yesterday. — AFP/VNA Photo
Addressing the opening meeting, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that after 45 years, ASEAN had become a closely-integrated political and economic entity, an influential player in Asia and an indispensable strategic partner of several major countries and global organisations.
He said ASEAN's numerous achievements underlined the strong commitment and political will of its members to continue to work closely together.
"That spirit has been confirmed with the theme ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny, the theme chosen by Cambodia as ASEAN Chair for 2012," he added.
However, he said, despite these achievements, ASEAN still continued to face challenges both globally and regionally.
These included the economic difficulties in major economies, the prolonged debt crisis in Europe, food and energy security, climate change, terrorism and trans-national crimes.
Hun Sen said these challenges threatened not only the sustainability of ASEAN's socio-economic development made over the last 45 years, but the efforts being made to build an ASEAN Community by 2015.
He highlighted the foreign ministers' significant role in shaping the ASEAN Community, especially in settling issues relating to security, political co-operation and ASEAN's external relationships.
The Cambodian PM said that maintaining regional peace and security was essential for the bloc to prosper and develop.
"ASEAN needs to speed up negotiations and co-operate on security and political matters to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in the region," he said.
"ASEAN should use all its current mechanisms to ensure regional security and peace. These included the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (TAC) in South-east Asia; the South-east Asian Treaty on a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone; the Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of parties in the East Sea ; the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus."
Hun Sen stressed that together with Britain and the European Union, the inclusion of other non-ASEAN countries into the TAC would highlight the treaty's significance.
He underlined the necessity of implementing a Declaration on the Conduct of parties to finalise the Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea.
ASEAN has key region role
Yesterday, Minister Minh told ASEAN foreign ministers ASEAN needs to maintain solidarity, strengthen co-ordination and play a key role in dealing with regional challenges.
Minh, speaking at the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting, said that the group should bring its regional role into full play and push up the building of a regional architecture.
He said this would make effective contributions to the common goals of peace, stability and co-operation.
Regarding the East Sea, Minh expressed deep concern at the complicated situation.
He said under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the Vietnamese Government opposed China's approval of the establishment of its so-called "Sansha city" – and its invitation for international bidding for nine oil and gas lots located completely within Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
These activities seriously violated the sovereign right and the jurisdictional right of the coastal nations over exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in accordance with provisions of the 1982 UNCLOS, and ran counter to the spirit of the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), Minh said.
Other participating ministers supported Minh's view on the principles of respecting the sovereign and jurisdictional rights of coastal nations over exclusive economic zones and continental shelves in line with provisions of the UNCLOS, solving disputes through peaceful measures without the use of force and with respect to international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the spirit of the DOC. The Ministers also supported Viet Nam's nomination as the ASEAN General Secretary for 2013-17 and agreed to suggest the official nomination to the 21st ASEAN Summit in November 2012. — VNS