Foreign minister urged unity for future sustainable growth
on ASEAN’s 52nd anniversary 1

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) flag hoisting in Hà Nội on August 8 to mark the 52nd anniversary of the grouping. The flag hoisting is an annual event conducted by all 10 member countries of the association that groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh

HÀ NỘI — Over the past five decades, member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have put forward huge efforts to realise the spirit of the 1967 Bangkok Declaration: “For a Southeast Asian region of peace, freedom and prosperity”.

The statement was made by Deputy Prime Minister Phạm Bình Minh in an article on the occasion of the 52nd anniversary of the bloc’s founding.

In the article, he said the ASEAN Community, established in 2015, is striving to realise the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 with encouraging initial results.

ASEAN countries have been making efforts to promote dialogues, strengthen co-operation, build trust, promote compliance with international law and share the common values and norms recognised in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the ASEAN Charter, the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).

In addition, ASEAN has demonstrated its bravery and ability to maintain solidarity and unity in issues affecting regional peace and security such as the South China Sea (called East Sea by Việt Nam) issue, the Muslim issue in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and the Korean Peninsula issue. Co-operation to prevent non-traditional security challenges continues to be promoted.

The bloc has achieved stable economic growth with a predicted rate of 4.9 per cent in 2019 and a total gross domestic product of US$3 trillion.

It has reached out to top economic partners through free trade agreements and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

ASEAN has also become a very attractive tourist destination, with intra-bloc tourist arrivals reaching approximately 50 million in 2018 and international tourist arrivals hitting nearly 130 million.

The rights of people in the region have been promoted through efforts to combat climate change, natural disasters and epidemics; the protection of vulnerable groups; visa-free movement among ASEAN countries for a period of 15 to 30 days; freedom to seek employment through mutual recognition agreements; and the provision of consular assistance.

Cohesion for adaptation

Throughout its existence, ASEAN has become more self-reliant and resilient with the key to success being its solidarity, the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Promoting this year’s theme “Advancing partnership for sustainability” and continuing the 2018 theme “For a self-reliant and innovative ASEAN”, the bloc continues to show its adaptability.

By adopting the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) at the 34th ASEAN Summit in June of this year, ASEAN has demonstrated its central role in changing regional issues.

Developing smart cities, responding to marine waste, integrating the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and responding to cybersecurity and population ageing challenges are among the body’s recent focuses.

At the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting earlier this month, member countries’ ministers affirmed ASEAN’s stance and principles, emphasising the importance of complying with international law and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and voicing concerns over the situation in the East Sea.

In the context of trade tensions between the major economies and increased protectionism, ASEAN is committed to accelerating intra-bloc trade and investment, promptly finalising the RCEP and strengthening a fair and rules-based international multilateral trade system.

Important milestone

Next year will be an important milestone for Việt Nam as it will take the ASEAN Chairmanship and celebrate 25 years since its admission to ASEAN.

During this time, Việt Nam will have many opportunities to affirm its new position both in the region and internationally. Việt Nam will also serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2020-21 term.

Việt Nam’s top priority in 2020 is to contribute to the successful implementation of the goals set in the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. This is also an opportunity for the country to promote bilateral relations with ASEAN nations and partners, further improve its international position and promote the country’s image, cultural identity, land and people around the world.

In order to realise this vision, it is essential for Việt Nam to mobilise the support and consensus of ASEAN countries and the bloc’s friends and partners, together with the efforts of all ministries, sectors, localities, businesses and people. — VNS