MADRID — Foreign ministers of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) countries convened a plenary session on sustainable connectivity between Asia and Europe on Monday (local time) as part of their 14th meeting in Madrid, Spain.
At the meeting’s second plenum in the afternoon, they agreed to continue focusing on connectivity cooperation and effective implementation of the ASEM connectivity plan of action adopted at the 12th ASEM Summit in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2018.
The meeting agreed to push ahead with sustainable and comprehensive connectivity with a focus on transport, energy, digital technology and human connectivity on an equitable, open and transparent basis that ensures economic, financial and environmental sustainability, capitalises on opportunities and responds to issues involving the digital economy.
The ministers said it was necessary to guarantee the quality and sustainability of infrastructure development, and that infrastructure projects would match international standards.
Earlier the same day, the ASEM foreign ministers held a discussion on international and regional issues, looking into those relevant to peace, security, anti-terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and navigation security.
With regards to navigation security and safety in the South China Sea (called East Sea in Việt Nam), they affirmed their commitments to maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the waters, and to keeping sea-based economic activities from being hampered in line with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The ministers also demanded relevant parties not to take actions that cause instability or escalate tensions.
They also called for the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, the exercise of self-restraint from unilateral actions that run counter to international law, no threat or use of force that violate the UN Charter, respect for the diplomatic processes as well as the rights of coastal countries, and promotion of trust-building measures.
Addressing this event, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh stressed that amid unpredictable changes in the world, international law and the UN Charter played a fundamental role in building a rules-based world order, promoting equitable and fair relations among countries, and effectively dealing with challenges of the era.
Việt Nam supported every effort that was in line with the UN Charter and international law to seek peaceful and sustainable solutions to conflicts and disputes in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, he said.
Minh also pointed out that in the recent past, a number of complex developments had occurred in the East Sea, which is home to many arterial shipping lanes, posing potential risks of tensions and negatively affecting peace, stability, security and safety of navigation and aviation in the region.
He emphasised that Việt Nam and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were committed to enhancing dialogue, building trust, stepping up preventive measures, and peacefully resolving disputes on the basis of international law, including the UN Charter and the 1982 UNCLOS.
Minh also highlighted the request for no use or threat to use force, the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and the building of an efficient and effective Code of Conduct (COC) of parties in the East Sea that conforms with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.
He underlined the need for all countries to uphold respect for law to help ensure security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight and build the East Sea into a sea of peace, cooperation and prosperous development.
After a hectic agenda, the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting wrapped up in the afternoon. It adopted a statement which affirms the members’ resolve to bolster the Asia-Europe partnership for effective multilateralism, cooperate to cope with global challenges, and foster connectivity between the two continents. The statement also puts forth orientations to elevate the ASEM cooperation in the future. VNS