Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc speaks at the opening ceremony of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) held in Hà Nội on Wednesday morning. VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh
HÀ NỘI – Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc called for solidarity among ASEAN members to deal with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a complicated geopolitical and economic environment.
He made the statement during the opening ceremony of the regional block’s 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) held in Hà Nội on Wednesday morning.
“2020 will end in just four months while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold in a complex manner, and our people and businesses continue to be outstretched by its repercussions,” he said.
“The regional geo-political and geo-economic landscape, including the South China Sea, is witnessing growing volatilities that are detrimental to peace and stability.”
To ensure the continuity of the achieved results, PM Phúc suggested ASEAN foreign ministers promote a number of priorities including continuing upholding ASEAN’s solidarity and unity in order to successfully realise the blueprints for the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
It was necessary to raise the effectiveness of the ASEAN Charter implementation and that of the ASEAN sectoral bodies. This would enable countries to work out the ASEAN Vision beyond 2025.
Efforts should be invested to control COVID-19 and promote a sustained recovery, he said.
He proposed the COVID-19 Response Fund should be well utilised and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies should be operationalised so as to raise ASEAN’s response capacity.
PM Phúc underlined the need to help people and businesses restore production and return their normal in order to speed up economic recovery.
Efforts should also be made to facilitate trade and investment, fix the disrupted supply chain, enhance connectivity and provide mutual support to bridge the development gaps between the sub regions in ASEAN, including the Mekong, he said.
The PM also talked of need to capitalise on ASEAN centrality in advancing dialogue, cooperation and confidence building in the region.
He said: “Cohesive and responsive, along with proactive and responsible, have become a brand of ASEAN, which enabled us to stand hand-in-hand in the face of immense challenges and keep forging ahead.”
In the opening speech, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phạm Bình Minh, spoke highly of the ASEAN bloc which is dynamic in action, flexible in response and creative in cooperation.
He praised the ASEAN Community, saying that with the spirit of “from vision to action”, ASEAN has gradually taken shape, laying the significant foundation for the building process, he said.
“Entering its 6th decade, ASEAN is now speeding up its community building while maximising its role and status in the region and actively contributing to the joint efforts for peace, stability and development of the international community.”
Minh said ASEAN has obtained significant progress recently.
He added: “Many ASEAN economies have been able to maintain positive growth rates, though lower than the set targets. Trade growth with Dialogue Partners have been maintained over the past months.”
ASEAN also made good use of the wave of investment shift to the region. The grouping’s relations with dialogues partners have been further strengthened and expanded, Minh said.
“The number of non-regional countries desiring to accede to ASEAN’s Treaty on Amity and Cooperation (TAC), establish new partnerships or enhance their current partnerships with ASEAN are rising. In the fight against COVID-19, ASEAN’s recovery rate has been relatively high with low mortality rate.”
Deputy PM Minh said at the 53rd AMM, ASEAN foreign ministers would discuss specific measures to effectively implement the instructions of the ASEAN Leaders at the 36th ASEAN Summit. They would also exchange views on how to further promote regional cooperation and integration, overcome challenges and difficulties in order to successfully achieve the set targets and map out the way forward.
Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, ASEAN countries would proactively contain the pandemic through prevention measures, development of accessible vaccines and medications.
Early and effective actions to support the people and businesses to overcome the consequences of the disease step by step recover the economy and return their life to normal would be undertaken at the same time.
To mitigate the adverse impacts of the complicated dynamics in the regional and international strategic landscape, and in order to maintain stability to focus on fighting the disease, ASEAN countries would have to concentrate on consolidating the ASEAN-led dialogue and cooperation mechanisms, he continued.
“Challenges to the regional security and stability are always present, including factors threatening peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the South China Sea, a critical sea lane of communication of the region and the world,” the deputy PM said.
ASEAN would persistently hold onto its principled position, emphasising self-restraints, peaceful settlement of all disputes on the basis of international law, including 1982 United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea, promoting dialogue, strengthening confidence building, non-militarisation and refrain from further complicating the situation, he said.
“To take the lead in setting our future development path, we will discuss ways and means to develop a new vision for the post-2025 ASEAN Community, inheriting the existing achievements so as to help ASEAN effectively respond to challenges and opportunities arising in the coming decades,” the deputy PM said.
Present at the opening ceremony alongside the Vietnamese Prime Minister were ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, foreign ministers from ASEAN nations, Ambassadors and representatives from international organisations in Việt Nam. — VNS