"Vietnam as ASEAN Chair has properly shown the spirit of cohesion and proactive adaptation"

1:46:42 PM | 4/11/2020

This is the assessment of Mr. Chanthaphone Khammanichanh, Chargé d'Affaires of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, in an interview with the Vietnam Business Forum on the position of ASEAN, as well as Vietnam's contribution in ASEAN year 2020. Giang Tu reports.

How do you evaluate ASEAN's position in the century of Asia?

In 50 years since its inception, from a regional organization, ASEAN has become a strong community with an increasingly enhanced position and role in the international arena. ASEAN has been increasingly asserting its position as a strong deeply integrated organization and an indispensable partner of countries in the world. After five decades of development, ASEAN has basically transformed its substance and officially became a community on December 31, 2015. Over half a century of development, ASEAN has been praised by international public opinion as an effective association, playing a central role in the overall structure of the Asia-Pacific region. The establishment of the ASEAN Community has enhanced the position and strategic value of ASEAN, attracting more and more attention from external partners for the common goal of peace, stability and development. Many countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe and Latin America wish to continue partnerships with ASEAN. The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), established in 1994, with the spirit of "promoting peace and security through dialogue and cooperation in Asia and the Pacific", initiated the mechanism for dialogue and consultation on security and politics in the region. In economic terms, ASEAN has created a vast market of 630 million people, with a total GDP of US$3 trillion, growing by 4.7% a year. ASEAN is also attractive to countries because it helps build economic links through free trade agreements (FTAs), creating a market of three billion people with a total GDP of US$20 trillion.

Vietnam has 25 years of membership in ASEAN. Especially this year, as Chair of ASEAN 2020, how do you assess Vietnam's role and contribution to the growth of the region?

That Vietnam became ASEAN’s member in 1995 has been one of the most important milestones in the history of Vietnam's foreign affairs since the establishment of the diplomatic service in 1945 and has also been a milestone in the ASEAN development process. This historic event has important implications, bringing Southeast Asia from confrontation to dialogue, from suspicion to trust, from division to solidarity. Immediately after joining ASEAN in 1995, Vietnam actively promoted the remaining countries in Southeast Asia to join ASEAN, namely Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, respectively in 1997 and 1999. Thereby, the dream of an ASEAN comprising all 10 Southeast Asian countries has come true.

Over the past 25 years, Vietnam hosted the 6th ASEAN Summit, successfully assumed the role of Chair of the 34th ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC) (July 2000-July 2001), ASEAN Chair 2010, and is currently working to fulfill the role of ASEAN Chair 2020. With many important initiatives and contributions such as the expansion of the EAS or the establishment of the ADMM + mechanism, Vietnam has actively been working together with other ASEAN members to maintain ASEAN's central role in the evolving regional architecture. Vietnam has been proactive and responsible when participating in ASEAN's affairs, including institutional building for ASEAN such as the ASEAN Charter (2008), the ASEAN Community Building Roadmap (2009-2015), Master Plan 2009, 2015, and 2025, ASEAN Community Vision after 2015, 2025 and beyond, and the comprehensive implementation of all three pillars of the ASEAN Community.

Vietnam has been greatly challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic, but as the Chair of ASEAN, the country has tried to lead ASEAN countries to together overcome those challenges in a very successful way. Vietnam has hosted an online summit, the first time ever in ASEAN. As Chair of ASEAN, Vietnam has launched various initiatives on ways of connecting to organize meetings from senior level, ministerial level, to expert level to prevent and address the impact of the pandemic. The organization of online conferences has been also a very good, appropriate and very successful initiative so far this year. From the beginning of the year until now, under the leadership of Vietnam, despite the pandemic, ASEAN held the 36th ASEAN high-level meetings, the Foreign Ministers Meeting - AMM 53, and ASEAN + 3. Vietnam together with other member countries have identified a common theme for 2020 as a Cohesive and Proactive ASEAN in order to accelerate the process of building community and promoting ASEAN's role in a volatile world. Over the past nine months, Vietnam's efforts as ASEAN Chair have properly demonstrated the spirit of cohesion and proactive adaptation. Along with the solidarity and cohesion between ASEAN member countries and the support and close cooperation of partners, ASEAN has ensured the effective implementation of its goals in 2020 and overcome difficulties and challenges, perhaps most notably initially controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, and at the same time taking steps to overcome the consequences of the epidemic, recover and develop.

In the context of the current pandemic, what should ASEAN do to effectively prevent Covid-19 and address the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on people in the region?

At the meeting at all levels of ASEAN and ASEAN + 3, ASEAN and its partners have the same purpose: for all parties to exchange experiences on how to prevent and deal with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. ASEAN has also established a mechanism for exchange and mutual consultation to jointly organize the implementation of agreements between ASEAN leaders, ASEAN ministers, as well as in ASEAN's cooperation with partner countries. To work together effectively to fight Covid-19 and address the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on the people of the region, ASEAN must unite and support each other among member countries, as well as the bloc's joint efforts with external partners to prevent, monitor, control and respond to the impact of the epidemic.

Toward comprehensive development, maintaining stability, safety and sustainability, what should ASEAN countries do to take advantage of cooperation and solidarity with countries outside the region?

ASEAN should continue to strengthen its joint efforts to ensure an environment of peace, stability and cooperation in the region so that it can take advantage of cooperation and solidarity with countries outside the region towards global development, maintaining more stability, safety and sustainability.

In addition, ASEAN needs to carry out well the content of the ASEAN Vision 2025, because this vision will strengthen the community toward the ASEAN Community, that it will be a truly people-oriented, people-centered community, promoting peace and stability in the region; enhancing maritime security and cooperation; promoting inclusive and innovative-based growth; enhancing ASEAN's resilience; making ASEAN a model for regional cooperation and promoting ASEAN's global role.

Maintaining regional peace, stability and security continues to be an important priority in the ASEAN Vision 2025. ASEAN will continue to propose measures to strengthen solidarity, unification and uphold its role and focus on maintaining regional peace and security. It will also continue to play a central role in the evolving regional architecture.

Source: Vietnam Business Forum