Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai spoke to the Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hà Nội
Could you please highlight some issues which will be discussed or raised at the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits?
The most crucial agenda across all summit meetings is COVID-19 response. These summits will be a timely opportunity for ASEAN and external partners to discuss how we can further co-operate on effective response to COVID-19 and strengthen our collective efforts for a robust recovery.
Another significant topic of discussion is ASEAN Community-building, where Viet Nam has taken the lead this year on a number of concrete deliverables such as mid-term review on the implementation of the ASEAN Community Blueprints 2025 and initiating discussions on the development of an ASEAN Community Post 2025 Vision.
Important regional and international trends and issues will also be discussed to promote mutual understanding and forge closer co-operation for regional peace, stability and prosperity.
What messages and commitments will be conveyed by Thailand at these summits, and what outcomes are expected from these summits?
Our most important message is that it is imperative to advance people agendas to protect our peoples during this challenging time of COVID-19 as well as to create a conducive strategic environment for peace and stability to contribute to a robust recovery and greater resilience of the region.
In particular, for our collective fight against COVID-19, Thailand fully supports ASEAN’s initiatives on COVID-19 such as the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. Emphasis should also be given to the development of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines as ‘global public goods’ as well as support extended to the most vulnerable groups and the hardest hit sectors in ASEAN, including MSMEs whose access to appropriate financing facilities should be ensured.
To build back better, putting people at the centre and promoting ASEAN’s long-term resilience and sustainability are necessary. Co-operation in this area can be pursued, including through the utilisation of existing ASEAN frameworks and centres such as the ASEAN Centre on Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue in Thailand.
Sustainability and post-COVID recovery should go hand in hand. In addition, against the backdrop of fast-changing geopolitics and regional and global landscapes, Thailand will reaffirm our support to ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture and promote constructive engagement between ASEAN and external partners, including major powers.
We will encourage the use of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific as an important tool to promote such engagement which will contribute to the region’s stability and development.
How successful are Viet Nam’s efforts as ASEAN Chair together with other members in accomplishing all targets/goals which were set before the pandemic?
I think overall Viet Nam has done a commendable job this year in leading ASEAN under the theme of a 'Cohesive and Responsive' ASEAN.
This theme is actually appropriate and applicable both before and after the outbreak of COVID-19. It is intended not only to enhance ASEAN’s unity in our collective actions to advance ASEAN’s interests but will also help ensure ASEAN’s timely and effective response to existing and emerging challenges facing ASEAN.
Throughout this year, Viet Nam has continued to carry forward ASEAN’s priorities from the past ASEAN Chairmanships, such as sustainable development, connectivity and smart cities. At the advent of COVID-19, thanks to Viet Nam’s leadership, ASEAN was able to quickly set up the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies in March to coordinate ASEAN’s collective and comprehensive response to COVID-19. The virtual Special ASEAN Summit and the Special ASEAN Plus Three Summit on COVID-19 were timely convened in mid-April, to be followed by a number of virtual ministerial meetings between ASEAN and external partners.
These high-level engagements not only demonstrated the strong political will from ASEAN and external partners to work together but also testified to the convening power of ASEAN. Viet nam’s contributions to ASEAN in 2020 will culminate at the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits in the forms of concrete deliverables to advance ASEAN Community-building and various initiatives related to COVID-19 – many of which will be carried forward next year.
In sum, 2020 is a momentous year with complex challenges, especially COVID-19. Under Viet Nam’s Chairmanship, ASEAN has been able to deal with them fairly effectively and continues to strengthen our Community-building in a ‘cohesive and responsive’ manner so that ASEAN is better prepared for any uncertainties in the future. VNS