“Cohesive and responsive, along with proactive and responsible, have become a brand of ASEAN which has enabled us to stand hand-in-hand in the face of immense challenges and to keep forging ahead,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has stated.
The 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-53) officially opened in the form of a video conference, with a series of approximately 20 events scheduled to run over four days from September 7 to September 12.
PM Phuc, who is also the ASEAN Chair in 2020, delivered a welcoming speech at the AMM-53 on September 9.
During his initial address, the Vietnamese Government chief said, “It is my great pleasure to be invited to address the Opening Ceremony of the AMM-53 and Related Meetings. The meeting is another testament that ASEAN is adapting itself to the new circumstances, and standing resolutely united to overcome every adversity.
2020 is a year full of significant events. This year, ASEAN has entered its sixth decade, and celebrates the fifth year of the ASEAN Community. ASEAN has grown strong to become the world’s fifth largest economy, a key actor that holds centrality in advancing dialogue and co-operation for peace, security, and prosperity of the region. These valuable fruits of our co-operation are being tested in an environment full of volatilities and unprecedented challenges, particularly the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
“Most notably, being cohesive and responsive is not merely the theme of ASEAN 2020. These aspects, along with being proactive and responsible, have become a brand of ASEAN and has enabled us to stand united in the face of immense challenges whilst continuing to forge ahead.”
“Such a brand has emerged prominently in the past eight months and is evident through the highest-level commitments by the ASEAN Leaders at the ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Special Summits in April and the 36th ASEAN Summit in June, respectively. This spirit also guides the efforts of the community pillars to expand co-operation and linkages while realising the dual tasks of advancing growth and containing the pandemic,” he said.
“ASEAN has been able to display its courage and resilience amid complex dynamics. In that connection, I commend the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the 53rd anniversary of ASEAN, in which you underlined the commitment to maintaining Southeast Asia as a region of peace, security, neutrality, and stability, while strengthening ASEAN’s centrality, unity, resilience, and promoting confidence build. With 2020 ending just four months, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold in complex manner, our people and businesses continue to be strained by its repercussions.
The regional geo-political and geo-economic landscape, including that of the South China Sea, are witnessing increasing volatilities that are detrimental to both peace and stability. Against this backdrop, to build upon what we have achieved together, I would like to draw the attention of ASEAN Foreign Ministers to the following matters,” PM outlined.
“First, we need to continue upholding ASEAN’s solidarity and unity in order to successfully realise the Blueprints for the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. We need to improve the effectiveness of the ASEAN Charter implementation and that of the ASEAN sectoral bodies. This will enable us to move the ASEAN Vision beyond 2025.”
“Second, efforts should be invested to control COVID-19 and promote sustained recovery. I propose that the COVID-19 Response Fund should be fully utilised and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies should be operationalised to raise ASEAN’s response capacity. We need to promptly help our people and businesses restore production and return their life to 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 subregions of ASEAN, including the Mekong.”
“Third, we need to capitalise on ASEAN centrality in advancing dialogue, co-operation, and confidence building in the region. On that basis, we shall formulate and share norms of conduct, uphold the rule of law, mutual trust, mutual respect, and equality in the relations between and among regional countries, whilst peacefully settle all disputes and differences on the basis of international law, including UNCLOS 1982 and ASEAN’s instruments on norms of conduct in the region.”
In addition, Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2020 also coincides with the 25th anniversary of the nation’s ASEAN membership, with PM Phuc reaffirming the country’s commitment to doing its utmost alongside fellow member states to realise the ASEAN Community.
The PM noted that he is looking forward to continued support and collaboration from member states in order to fulfill the Chairmanship 2020 and enjoy a cohesive and responsive ASEAN.
During the event, Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh gave an opening speech at the meeting.
“At this AMM, we will discuss specific measures to effectively implement the instructions of the ASEAN Leaders at the 36th ASEAN Summit. We will also exchange views on how to further promote regional co-operation and integration, overcome challenges and difficulties in order to successfully achieve the set targets and map out the way forward.”
“As stated by His Excellency PM Phuc, we will continue to consolidate solidarity and unity, caring and sharing, respect for each other’s interests and concerns, so that ASEAN member states can be sustainably bonded within a strong ASEAN Community.”
“We have resolved to overcome difficulties, effectively and timely achieve the targets in the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, ensure the full implementation of all provisions and procedures in the ASEAN Charter, and to continue improving the operational effectiveness of ASEAN’s sectoral bodies and other ASEAN-led dialogue and co-operation mechanisms,” Deputy PM Minh said.
“Being aware that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is still looming, we will, on the one hand, be proactive in containing the pandemic through prevention measures, development of accessible vaccines and medications. Whilst on the other, undertake early and effective actions to support people and businesses to overcome the consequences of the disease, whilst initiating step by step plans to recover the economy and return life to normal. The ASEAN Coordinating Council will therefore thoroughly discuss ways and means to effectively push forward ASEAN’s efforts and initiatives to respond to the COVID-19.”
“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, we have to concentrate on consolidating the ASEAN-led dialogue and co-operation mechanisms. In meetings with the Dialogue Partners during this AMM, we will deliberate issues relating to future of the forums, such as the EAS on the occasion of its 15th anniversary, ARF with a new action programme for the 2020 to 2030 period, and continue to broaden and deepen co-operation with Dialogue Partners within the ASEAN+1 and ASEAN+3 frameworks in order to maximise these platforms’ roles in the new circumstances.”
“In parallel with this are efforts to formulate and implement universally accepted norms of conduct and to uphold the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the ASEAN Charter concerning inter-state relations, including those adhering to international law, equality, mutual respect, understanding, and trust. Strategic trust as mentioned in the 8 August Statement will be an important factor to neutralise suspicions, to sincerely co-operate with each other on a win-win basis, and to prevent the danger of conflicts.”
“ASEAN will continue making active contributions and promoting its role in efforts to sustain international peace and security. The Ministerial Dialogue between ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners, aimed at encouraging the role of women in sustainable peace and security, constitutes ASEAN’s practical contribution to implementing Resolution No. 1325 of the UN Security Council on Women, Peace and Security.” the Vietnamese diplomat noted.
“Challenges to 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 for both the region and the world. ASEAN will persistently hold onto its principled position, emphasising self-restraint, the peaceful settlement of all disputes on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, promoting dialogues, strengthening confidence building, non-militarisation, and refrain from further complicating the situation. ASEAN will persistently promote the full and serious implementation of the DOC and will endeavor to formulate an effective and substantive COC in conformity with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.”
“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, building on the existing achievements to help ASEAN effectively respond to challenges and opportunities arising in the coming decades,” he said.
After attending the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers' plenary session, ASEAN Foreign Ministers will attend a host of important events, including the Executive Committee of the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty’s conference, the 27th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting on Sub-regional Development, the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-Japan Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Ministerial Meeting, the 21st ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the 10th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
The AMM-53 and related meetings are among the most important events during the country’s Year of ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020.
Despite ASEAN co-operation being influenced by the COVID-19 epidemic, the nation has been striving to fully fulfill its role as ASEAN Chair 2020 to a high level. This has been done by proposing many initiatives, maintaining and promoting co-operation in both epidemic prevention, as well as community building, while strengthening ASEAN's partnership and the bloc’s central role in dealing with regional and global issues of mutual concern.