Online format won't hinder ASEAN Summit, says diplomat

June 23, 2020 - 17:34
The coronavirus pandemic continues to be complex and as the summit cannot be delayed any longer, Việt Nam opted to hold it online
Deputy foreign minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng (left) on Tuesday chairs the press conference on the 36th ASEAN Summit. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Việt

HÀ NỘI — The virtual meeting format at this year's ASEAN Summit will not hinder the discussion and implementation of the agenda, a Vietnamese diplomat has said.

During a press conference on Tuesday in Hà Nội regarding the upcoming summit on June 26, Vietnamese deputy foreign minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng said Việt Nam initially expected pushing back the summit originally slated for April to June would make it possible for a face-to-face meeting.

However the coronavirus pandemic continues to be complex and as the summit cannot be delayed any longer, Việt Nam opted to hold it online, Dũng said.

"ASEAN has long wanted to shift to online meetings where possible to reduce costs and time, but throughout the years, these attempts have not been really successful," Dũng said.

However, this year, the coronavirus crisis forced their hand and it turned out online meetings can be held with good results.

"Of course, face-to-face meetings give the participants the chance to express emotions better, we can hug and kiss, shake hands, talk on the sidelines, or other forms of intimate meetings. But for online meetings, the messages we want to convey are conveyed completely and not much affected by the format," Dũng noted.

However, arrangements for a time and date for virtual meetings between ASEAN and its global dialogue partners like the US or New Zealand will prove difficult, Dũng said.

The first summit of the year will revolve around reviewing the progress on the building of the ASEAN Community across the political-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars since last year's summit, giving directions on priority orientations for the year, the diplomatic affairs of ASEAN as well as regional and global discussions.

There will be a keen focus on COVID-19 discussions and measures and policies for post-pandemic recovery, the Vietnamese diplomat said.

Việt Nam and ASEAN countries in recent times have tried to pursue the dual goals of containing the disease while promoting efforts to build the ASEAN Community and fulfil the initiatives set for this year, Dũng added.

The theme of 'Cohesive and Responsive' that Việt Nam chose for this year reflected the country's view on the need for unity as well as the need to adapt to Industry 4.0 in the regional bloc's successes, but it also turned out to be fitting for the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic.

"In the past six months, ASEAN co-operation in the spirit of 'Cohesive and Responsive' has helped the region stand firm against COVID-19 and it could be said that ASEAN could be an exemplary model in the response against COVID-19," Dũng said.

Within the framework of ASEAN, on June 26, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc will hold a meeting between ASEAN leaders regarding the empowerment of women in the digital era, an initiative by Việt Nam to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women and adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995.

The same day, PM Phúc will also chair a meeting between ASEAN government leaders and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, led by Vietnamese National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân.

In addition, PM Phúc and ASEAN leaders will have dialogues with representatives of ASEAN youths and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC).

“Via the dialogue of ASEAN leaders with representatives of sectors and communities in ASEAN, ASEAN wishes to promote cohesion and the active contribution of various sectors in society in enhancing regional linkage and building the ASEAN Community”, Dũng stated.

ASEAN leaders are expected to adopt the Chairman Statement of the 36th ASEAN Summit, a declaration on cohesive and responsive ASEAN and an ASEAN statement on human resources development in a changing world of work. — VNS