Ambassador Trần Đức Bình. —Photo baoquocte.vn
Ambassador Trần Đức Bình, head of Việt Nam’s permanent mission to ASEAN, highlighted the country’s outstanding achievements during its 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship in a recent interview with the Vietnam News Agency.
The country chose “Cohesive & Responsive” as the theme for ASEAN in 2020, with a view to helping build an ASEAN Community that is increasingly cohesive and stands firm in the face of regional and global events.
When the theme was unveiled, of course, no one knew that COVID-19 was on its way and would have an intensive influence on nearly everything worldwide.
However, he noted, the theme proved to be an appropriate choice and a vivid illustration of Việt Nam’s creativity, proactiveness, and capacity for coordinating and leading the region’s common endeavours.
The diplomat said that when COVID-19 first broke out, as ASEAN Chair, Việt Nam took early action in coordinating other member states to perform the twin tasks of fighting the pandemic and pushing ahead with community building and the implementation of the bloc’s priorities for the year.
ASEAN had so far taken a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder, and “whole-of-ASEAN Community” approach to COVID-19 prevention and control, adaptation, and recovery. It had also made use of partner countries’ active support and assistance for its pandemic response and recovery efforts, the ambassador said.
COVID-19 response initiatives submitted or co-created by Việt Nam, such as the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, the Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies, and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, had been held in high regard for their practicality and usefulness in improving the bloc’s fighting capacity and recovery.
With active support from Việt Nam, ASEAN also agreed to consider setting up an ASEAN travel corridor to facilitate the movement of people between regional countries, he went on.
The diplomat held that although the bloc had been greatly affected by the pandemic, in a “Cohesive & Responsive” spirit, it had shown its steadfastness, solidarity, unity, and sustained cooperation in responding to the multi-dimensional challenges posed by the crisis, promoting the ASEAN Community building process, ensuring the effective implementation of cooperation priorities and targets, bringing into play its central role, and raising the bloc’s stature in the region.
It is worthy of note that in serving as both Chair of ASEAN in 2020 and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020-2021, Việt Nam had done well in connecting ASEAN priorities with the global agenda, helping to affirm the bloc’s standing and centrality in the region and the world, Bình told VNA.
He said ASEAN’s cooperation achievements this year bear the deep imprints of Việt Nam, noting that the country’s initiatives, aimed at enhancing member states’ cooperation to step up ASEAN Community building and, especially, to shape the post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision, became the bloc’s initiatives carried out in 2020.
During the country’s chairmanship, the bloc’s cooperation had been lifted to a higher and more substantive level, he said.
Amid numerous difficulties and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, he added, momentum for ASEAN Community building had been maintained, with targets and plans set for 2020 basically fulfilled. ASEAN’s centrality had also been maintained, and the bloc had also played an increasingly active role in promoting peace and preserving stability in the region.
Fostering economic connectivity and multilateral trade liberalisation was also an outstanding achievement of ASEAN this year, the ambassador said, highlighting the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the 37th ASEAN Summit after eight years of negotiations.
He also pointed out many bright spots in socio-cultural respects this year, including developing high-quality human resources, increasing social work, and raising common awareness about the ASEAN Community’s identity.
ASEAN’s global stature had also been elevated. For the first time, the ASEAN Secretary-General spoke of ASEAN-UN cooperation with the UN Security Council in early 2020 under an initiative of Việt Nam, Ambassador Bình added.
In a trying year, Việt Nam’s fulfilment of its ASEAN Chairmanship, especially the successful organisation of ASEAN summits and related events, had helped create a good impression of the country as an active and responsible member that does its utmost for the bloc’s common targets, while demonstrating its efforts to lead ASEAN through challenges, uphold the bloc’s solidarity, and promote the ASEAN Community’s resilience and development, according to the ambassador. —VNS