An art performance at the 37th ASEAN Summit's opening ceremony. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — The 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits officially kicked off on Thursday morning in the form of a teleconference, focusing discussions on responding to COVID-19 and economic recovery in the post-pandemic period.
Delivering welcoming remarks at the summits’ opening ceremony in Hà Nội, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Việt Nam and President Nguyễn Phú Trọng highlighted the central role of ASEAN and the spirit of “Cohesive and responsive” in regional co-operation in response to the pandemic.
In spite of COVID-19 ravaging the region in 2020, ASEAN member states have demonstrated determination and efforts to overcome challenges and made political commitments at the highest level, he said.
“Public confidence in the COVID-19 response capacity of ASEAN governments is at a high level. ASEAN has been successful in maintaining its activities and its role and position over the past year. ASEAN’s partners continue to attach importance to relations with the bloc and support its centrality.”
Positioning a suitable foothold in a post-COVID-19 world is a major matter for ASEAN. Strong desire and willingness of maintaining regional peace, stability and solidarity based on respect for international laws have become and need to be a core value of Southeast Asia and the ASEAN Community, he said.
He called on ASEAN countries “to promote their collaboration to realise initiatives and recovery strategies in a practical and effective manner”.
“ASEAN must uphold its central role and values in regional dialogues. The bloc can make effective contributions to the efforts of fostering multilateral co-operation, upholding international laws and strengthening international multilateral systems with the United States and other countries,” he said.
On this occasion, he laid emphasis on Việt Nam’s policy of maintaining independence, self-reliance, multilateralism and diversification of external relations, being a trustworthy friend and partner and an active and responsible member of the international community, striving for peace, cooperation and development.
Việt Nam’s membership in ASEAN and its contributions to the ASEAN Community building process over the past 25 years is the premise for Việt Nam to effectively implement its foreign policy and international integration.
As ASEAN Chair 2020 under the spirit of “Cohesive and responsive”, Việt Nam “highly appreciated solidarity and valuable support from ASEAN member countries and international partners, helping the ASEAN Community stay strong to overcome difficulties, maintain connection and strengthen ASEAN's central role towards building a region of peace, friendship, co-operation, neutrality and stability”.
“Only through co-operation, trust, joint efforts and consensus, can ASEAN and the world together overcome all challenges, recover economic growth, maintain peace, stability and sustainable development,” he said.
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Việt Nam and President Nguyễn Phú Trọng and Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc greet delegates at the opening ceremony. — VNA/VNS Photo
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN summit and related meetings, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t hinder the progress of ASEAN Community Building and cooperation on the three pillars was still active and on schedule in line with master plans for the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
Emphasising the need to improve institutional capacity and effective operation of the ASEAN apparatus to adapt to the requirements of the new situation, the Prime Minister said that the review and implementation of the ASEAN Chapter were necessary, adding that the leaders would give guidance on this important task at the 37th ASEAN summit.
The summit would formally approve the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its implementation plan which will serve as the strategy to recover and build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“ASEAN has also consistently demonstrated its stance and strongly committed to building the East Sea (internationally known as the South China Sea), which is a vital maritime route in the region and the world, into a sea of peace, stability, security and free movement of goods. It’s where differences are resolved by peaceful means, laws are respected and compliance and shared values are confirmed,” Phúc said.
He highlighted the significance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982) as the framework for all activities at sea.
“We look forward to the early completion of the effective Code of Conduct in accordance with international law and UNCLOS 1982," he said.
The Prime Minister suggested that ASEAN should focus resources and give utmost efforts to gradually reduce the risk of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines as well as effective treatment methods should be available soon to prevent diseases and better responding to emergencies, protecting the health and lives of people.
It was necessary to promote measures to support businesses to restore production, trade, employment and livelihoods for people, he said.
Phúc also stressed the necessity of reopening borders within ASEAN countries to facilitate the travelling of its citizens.
Peace and stability are the prerequisites for recovery and development, the Prime Minister said.
“Stability can only be achieved when international relations are maintained based on rules with mutual respect and understanding, cooperation and trust among countries.
“ASEAN will continue to play a central role in leading the dialogue process and extensive cooperation in the region and in connecting the participation of partners on issues of common interest and effectively respond to challenges, he said.
The Prime Minister affirmed ASEAN's determination to adopt important declarations to partners on this occasion.
Phúc said he believed that with the spirit of solidarity and resilience, ASEAN will steadily overcome challenges, lead to a prosperous life for more than 600 million people, effectively contributing to peace and stability, and develop in the region and the world.
The 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits will last for four days with 20 scheduled high-level meetings among ASEAN countries and between ASEAN with its partners.
More than 80 documents, a record number thus far, are expected to be adopted including the Hà Nội Declaration on a post-2025 ASEAN Vision; the ASEAN+3 Leaders’ Statement on enhancing economic and financial resilience against emerging challenges; East Asia Summit (EAS) Leaders’ Statement celebrating the 15th anniversary of the EAS.
ASEAN leaders will discuss and release the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and launch the ASEAN regional reserve of medical supplies. — VNS