In his opening remarks at the online ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM), Deputy PM Minh expressed his deepest sympathies and condolences to Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, and Thailand over the human and property losses caused by heavy floods and landslides triggered by the recent storms that also hit Vietnam a few days ago.
Besides such massive and deadly storms, the grouping has also been facing a stormy regional and geo-political environment, the official noted.
As the AMM Chair 2020, Minh thanked other ASEAN ministers for their support and cooperation in advancing all ASEAN initiatives.
In the period of a cohesive and responsive ASEAN, he called for more support and cooperation during the meeting and other upcoming events, especially the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits.
The ministers shared the view that 2020 is a tough year with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing competitions between strategic powers, along with traditional and non-traditional challenges.
However, ASEAN has reaped achievements in the ASEAN Community building and affirmed its centrality in the regional architecture, they said, speaking highly of efforts by Vietnam as the ASEAN Chair in leading and uniting the bloc.
To ensure post-pandemic recovery, it is a must to ensure the continuity of the supply chain, safely restore trade between countries, sign new-generation free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and narrow the development gap in ASEAN by advancing cooperation between sub-regions, the ministers said.
They devoted a lot of time discussing regional and international matters, including the East Sea issue, and pointed out unilateral activities, with continuous militarisation activities and groundless sovereignty claims, threatening peace and stability in the East Sea in particular and the region in general.
Given this, the countries reiterated ASEAN’s stance and principles on peace and stability in the East Sea, and emphasised the role of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS).
They called for the full and serious implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and looked forward to the building of an effective and efficient Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in line with international law and the 1982 UNCLOS.
On this occasion, the ministers also discussed criteria for dialogue partners of ASEAN, and agreed to admit Colombia, Cuba and South Africa to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) and to organise a signing ceremony of the instruments of accession to the treaty by the countries.
Deputy PM and FM Minh said it is time for ASEAN to demonstrate its solidarity to complete priorities and initiatives in 2020, realise the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and effectively cope with emerging challenges, particularly COVID-19.
Solidarity is the key factor to ensure peace, stability, independence and self-reliance amidst global uncertainties, he said.
Vietnam is committed to closely coordinating with other ASEAN countries and China to fully and effectively implement the DOC and soon reach a result-oriented COC in line with international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS, he pledged.
The 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings, slated for November 12-15, will feature 20 activities at the highest level, including the 37th ASEAN Summit; ASEAN+1 with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, the US, the UN, and Australia; the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS); and the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); among others.
During the summits with partners, leaders will focus on building the ASEAN Community, maintaining intra-bloc cooperation momentum, expanding and deepening relations between ASEAN and partners, promoting the grouping’s centrality, raising its international position, ensuring COVID-19 prevention and control, and discussing regional and international issues of shared concern.
More than 80 documents, including proposals by Vietnam, are set to be approved on this occasion, marking the highest number to date.
Vietnam is expected to symbolically hand over the ASEAN Chairmanship to Brunei at the closing ceremony on November 15.