Contributing substantially and effectively to ASEAN's common affairs

Monday, 2021-04-26 12:09:55
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Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung. (Photo: VNA)
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NDO – Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has just wrapped up his working trip to the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting held in Jakarta, Indonesia from April 23-24. On this occasion, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung granted the media an interview concerning the results of the Prime Minister's working trip.

Q: This ASEAN Leaders' Meeting took place in a special context. What is the significance of Vietnam's participation in the meeting? What outstanding contributions has Vietnam made to the results of the meeting?

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung: It is true that the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting took place in a context when many countries in the region are dealing with new and very complex COVID-19 outbreaks. However, ASEAN leaders are still determined to organise face-to-face meetings, showing the member states’ commitment and enormous efforts to overcome difficulties, and deal with urgent emerging ASEAN issues.

For Vietnam, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh decided to attend the meeting less than 20 days after he took office, which demonstrates the country’s proactiveness, activeness, and responsibility for regional issues. With its stature in ASEAN, especially after its term as Chair of ASEAN in 2020, the only current ASEAN member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and President of the UNSC for April, 2021, Vietnam’s participation and contributions were highly anticipated by the international and regional community. The Vietnamese delegation led by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has met those expectations. We participate in and contribute positively and substantially to many elements of the meeting, in accordance with the spirit of a responsible member, making efforts for the common affairs of the ASEAN “grand family”.

The opinions and proposals of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the meeting received the support of other ASEAN leaders as they matched the bloc’s current concerns and priorities, especially COVID-19 control, recovery promotion, and ways to effectively respond to new matters arising. The Prime Minister has also skillfully promoted results achieved the 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship, and integrate the issues Vietnam has an interest in like the East Sea/ South China Sea and the Mekong River matter into ASEAN’s cooperation orientations.

The Prime Minister asked ASEAN to pay attention to narrowing the development gap in sub-regions, including the Mekong sub-region, and ensuring that no regions or areas are left behind, particularly as the impact of COVID-19 are widening the development gap in ASEAN.

In order to maintain ASEAN's central role in a complex, constantly evolving strategic environment, the Prime Minister said that the trust and goodwill of the relevant sides should be reflected via actions in reality and the avoidance of any moves that may escalate tension or complicate the situation. The Prime Minister emphasised ASEAN should sustain its principled stance on the East Sea issue, including maintaining peace, stability, security, and safety of navigation and overflight; complying with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC); and soon finalising an efficient and effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea.

Sharing other leaders’ viewpoints on international and regional issues of common concern, including the Myanmar situation, PM Pham Minh Chinh affirmed his respect for the principle of not intervening in other states’ internal affairs, but noting that with a spirit of solidarity, ASEAN cannot neglect issues affecting the region’s common stability and development. The PM’s proposals about ways ASEAN can assist Myanmar have many things in common with other ASEAN leaders’ opinions, sending the bloc’s representatives to this country to learn about the situation and meet related parties to promote dialogue and seek solutions, while augmenting humanitarian aid. Talking about Vietnam’s efforts, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and President of the council for April, in maintaining balanced dialogue about Myanmar at the council, the PM recommended ASEAN countries and Myanmar coordinate closely together to join Vietnam in calling for partners to support the bloc’s role in seeking suitable, feasible, fundamental, and substantive solutions to the Myanmar issue.

Overall, it can be said that the strategic, substantial and effective contributions of Vietnam, through the Prime Minister's speech at the meeting, continued to affirm the image and mark of Vietnam in ASEAN. Along with other member countries, Vietnam has contributed significantly to the unexpected success of the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting, the first in-person event among ASEAN leaders in 2021 and after nearly 18 months of ASEAN meetings having to take place via videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: During the meeting, the Prime Minister held bilateral activities with leaders from other countries. Could you please tell us the meaning and results of these activities?

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung: In a very short time, less than two days, in addition to attending the ASEAN Leaders' Meeting, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh had a series of bilateral meetings with other ASEAN leaders, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo (host of the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting), Bruneian Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Chair of AEAN in 2021), Cambodian PM Hun Sen, Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong, and Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin. In addition, on the sidelines of these he also met with heads of other countries’ delegations like Laos, Thailand, the Philippines, and Myanmar who congratulated PM Pham Minh Chinh on his new post and expressed their hope for his attention to enhancing bilateral ties.

Via PM Pham Minh Chinh’s first high-level diplomatic meetings with important partners in ASEAN, Vietnam reiterated its foreign policy issued at the 13th National Party Congress, which is attaching great importance to developing cooperation and traditional friendship with neighbouring and other ASEAN countries. This is also an opportunity for the Prime Minister to directly make contact and establish relationships with senior leaders from countries in the region.

The talks and meetings took place in an open, friendly, and sincere atmosphere. The leaders of the countries congratulated Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on his election as new PM of Vietnam, highly lauded the role and position of Vietnam and congratulated the country on its achievements in the prevention and control of Covid-19, as well as maintaining its economic growth momentum.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and leaders of other countries discussed many strategic issues with important vision and orientation regarding relations, as well as very specific and substantive measures to promote the most comprehensive and effective cooperation, especially in terms of the economy, trade, investment, practically supporting economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. Specific targets have been agreed, such as doubling bilateral trade with Brunei, bringing two-way trade with Indonesia to US$10 billion, and that with Malaysia to US$15 billion; supporting the removal of difficulties and creating conditions for businesses to expand their trade and attract investment; re-connecting flight routes and establishing a safe travel corridor; promoting cooperation in education and training, agriculture - fishery, environment - climate change, cooperation regarding the seas and oceans, including law enforcement at sea .

The leaders of Vietnam and other countries also agreed to work closely and support each other at international fora, strengthening ASEAN’s centrality and reinforcing links between the bloc and the UN. Discussing security issues, regional and international strategies of mutual interest, PM Pham Minh Chinh also reiterated Vietnam’s consistent stance on the East Sea issue, stressing the importance of adhering to international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.

On the occasion, PM Pham Minh Chinh suggested countries continue to create conditions to support the Vietnamese community living and working in host countries, especially ensuring their safety, preventing and combating the Covid-19 epidemic, facilitating transit and organising flights to bring Vietnamese people back home in the context of complicated epidemic outbreaks in some countries in the region.

It can be said that the results of these bilateral activities create a solid foundation for our foreign policy implementation with important partners from the beginning of the new government's term, as well as being a positive start in general, contributing to building cooperation, friendship and friendly relations between the Prime Minister and the leaders of ASEAN countries.

Thank you very much!