The 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings held onlinefrom November 12 to 15 brought to a close Việt Nam’s tenure as the bloc chair in 2020 with more than 20 high-level sessions and 80 documents approved.
It adopted the Hanoi Declaration on the ASEAN Community’s post – 2025 Vision, Mid-term Review of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 Blueprints, 2025 Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, and others.
The leaders of various member countries spoke highly of Vietnam’s performance as the chair with.
Upholding the theme “Cohesive and Responsive”, Vietnam has been flexible and proactive in converting challenges into opportunities during its ASEAN Chairmanship Year.
The country has promoted solidarity, strengthened regional connectivity, and cooperated with foreign partners to successfully organise meetings online.
At the summit and related meetings, ASEAN leaders acceptedseveral measures to deal with the pandemic and other challenges.
Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumsay spoke highly of Vietnam’s leadership as the chair while facing unprecedented challenges the pandemic caused across the globe.
Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP resident representative in Vietnam, alsohailed Vietnam for its work as ASEAN chair.
“The theme selected for the ASEAN Year 2020 , ‘Cohesive and Responsive,’ is appropriate and reflective at a time when the pandemic is spreading across the region and the globe.”
She emphasised the importance of the ASEAN Community being cohesive and responsive in coping with the pandemic,which has had a huge impact on many aspects such as the socio-economy.
The Dutch ambassador, Elsbeth Akkerman, congratulated Vietnam for successfully organising the summit, saying it did a great job under complex circumstances.
For strong, self-reliant ASEAN Community
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, head of Việt Nam’s ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting, said the theme ‘Cohesive and Responsive’ has become the ASEAN brand.
Vietnam shifted the central focus from response to the outbreak to measures to support people and enterprises affected by it, which has been highly valued by ASEAN countries and partners.
“We have achieved our set targets. All initiatives and priorities of the year were discussed and adopted at the summit paving the way for ASEAN countries to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and recover.”
At the summit, leaders set up the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, the Strategic Framework for Emergency Public Health Response, the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, and the Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
They reiterated the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability throughout the Southeast Asianregion, including the East Sea.
The spirit of being responsible, respecting the law, the sovereignty and legitimate rights of all countries in accordance with the international law indicates a determination to build the East Sea into a sea of peace, stability, friendship and co-operation with freedom of navigation and overflight ensured, they said.
All activities at sea must comply with international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), they said.
They underlined the need to exercise self-restraint, scrupulouslyimplement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and soon reach an effective Code of Conduct in the Sea (COC) in line with international laws and UNCLOS.
Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation PrakSokhonn said: “As a country that does not claim sovereignty in the East Sea, Cambodia desires the East Sea will be maintained as an area of peace, stability and prosperity.”
Speaking at the closing ceremony while handing over the chairmanship to Brunei Darussalam, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said Vietnam is fully confident that country, as the next chair, would continue to lead the bloc forward and forge an ASEAN Community endowed with a vision for broad connectivity, adaptability and sustainable development.
The year 2020 has been a tough one for all countries in the form of unprecedented global health and economic crises.
As a regional bloc, ASEAN has navigated both crises relatively well despite the difficulties posed by the travel restrictions, border closures and health measures imposed to contain the outbreak.
Despite these challenges, ASEAN under Việt Nam’s chairmanship marched forward as a cohesive body forging collaborative responses to the challenges facing the region and avoiding the negative fallouts of the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China. — VNA