12/11/2020 14:51 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

PM: ASEAN shall surely rise above challenges, bring prosperity to citizens

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended and delivered his remarks at the opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi on November 12. Following is the full remarks:

Your Excellency Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,

Your Majesty, Excellencies Leaders of ASEAN,

Your Excellency Madam Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, President of AIPA-41,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to warmly welcome leaders of ASEAN member states and partners to the Opening Ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. Though we have not been able to meet in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our dialogue and cooperation still move forward thanks to modern digital platforms. The geographical distance and physical divide among nations have been less of an issue.

I wish to express my gratitude to His Excellency Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary and President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, for his presence and important remarks at this Ceremony.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are going through incredibly difficult times, as COVID-19 threatens the lives and livelihood of our people. The economic and social life is in disarray, further aggravated by severe natural disasters, storms, floods and droughts. The fruits of social progress and economic development accumulated over decades risk being evaporated and it may take years for us to recuperate from such losses.

Anguished by the pain of our people and desirous of recovery, the Governments of ASEAN members stood as one in our action from very early on. In mid-April, shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the Special ASEAN and APT Summits on COVID-19 were convened with strong pledges to act in a “Cohesive and Responsive” manner. At the 36th ASEAN Summit in June, ASEAN member states began taking decisive actions both at the national and regional levels.

The ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, announced at ASEAN-36, received a pledge of 10 million USD and stands ready to provide assistance to countries in combatting the pandemic, should they need it. At this 37th ASEAN Summit, we will establish the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and adopt the ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies. We have agreed to establish the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases with Japan's assistance. These are substantive outcomes of great significance, which help enhance our shared capacity for response to medical emergencies and future epidemic threats.

Undaunted by adversities and challenges, the ASEAN Community process still progressed despite the pandemic. We are elated that our cooperation across the three pillars has proceeded smoothly according to the roadmaps of the Blueprints of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. Let me take this opportunity to stress the need for enhancing institutional capacity and operational efficiency for the ASEAN apparatus to rise to the demands dictated by the new situation. Reviewing the implementation of the ASEAN Charter is therefore relevant and makes part of our Summit’s agenda.

Our task is twofold: fight the pandemic and secure recovery. Accordingly, we will adopt the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and its Implementation Plan across the three pillars. The plans for stabilizing production and supply chains, strengthening connectivity and restoring trade in the region are well under way. We are creating a safe travel framework for businesses and investors amidst the pandemic. In the short term, we may consider putting in place an ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Three quarter a century has passed since the end of the Second World War. World peace and security, however, are yet truly sustainable. This year, they are particularly under greater threat as a result of compounding risks arising from the unpredictable conduct of states, major power rivalries and frictions, challenged international multilateral system, increasingly acute non-traditional security issues and rise of extremist tendencies.

In recognizing the opportunities and challenges facing our region, ASEAN has always stayed true to its path of self-reliance and steadfast in finding a balanced and harmonious approach. Its centrality is maintained without being swayed or drawn into the maelstroms in the region and the world. I welcome the Declaration of ASEAN Foreign Ministers on the 53th Anniversary of the Association, for it showcases our determination to maintain a Southeast Asia of peace, security, stability and neutrality. ASEAN has also expressed its consistent principle and strong commitment to ensuring peace and stability in the South China Sea, a critical sea lane of the region and the world. It is to become a region where the free flow of goods goes unimpeded, where differences and disputes are settled via peaceful means, where the law is respected and observed, and common values are upheld. We espouse the 1982 UNCLOS as a framework for all activities at sea. As such, we expect an early conclusion of an effective and substantive COC, in line with international law and UNCLOS.

Over the last 75 years, exhorted by the Declarations and Resolutions of the UN, our world and region have achieved encouraging progress in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. On this occasion, for the first time, we will hold an ASEAN Women Leaders Summit, where women leaders from our member states directly speak on the role of women in promoting sustainable development in a post-COVID-19 world.

As 2020 draws to a close, the 37th ASEAN Summit and related Summits between ASEAN and its partners shall be instrumental in achieving ASEAN priorities for the year and mapping out our future cooperation directions.

First, ASEAN needs to focus its resources and efforts, at the highest level, to curb the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccines and effective treatment should be made readily available, and preventive healthcare capacity enhanced to respond to medical emergencies and protect the health and lives of our people. At the same time, we need to step up ways to assist our businesses in restoring production, trade, work and livelihood for the people. The ASEAN Community Councils shall make haste in putting the Implementation Plan for the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework into action after these Meetings.

Playing its part in reshaping the post-COVID-19 world, ASEAN needs to establish its position amidst the economic-political shift among nations and the readjustments in the global production and supply chains. We must make sure that ASEAN supplement its competitive advantages with acquired scientific and technological advances, digital transformation, quality workforce and diverse markets for input and output.

Second, equitable and sustainable growth is hugely important in ASEAN Community-building, especially as epidemics and natural disasters threaten to stunt growth across the entire region. ASEAN reaffirms its commitment and unity in narrowing the development gap and stands for seamlessly mainstreaming sub-regional development effort into regional development.

Third, peace and stability are essential for recovery and development. Should stability be maintained, international relations must be governed by rules, and with respect, understanding, dialogue, cooperation and trust among nations. In that endeavor, ASEAN shall continue playing a central role in leading extensive dialogue and cooperation processes in the region. Outside partners will be further engaged in issues of common interest for effective response to challenges.

With that, we will adopt a range of important documents with our partners, including the Declaration on the 15th Anniversary of the EAS, and the APT Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening Cooperation for Economic and Financial Resilience in the Face of Emerging Challenges. We will also conclude negotiations and sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which indicates our strong commitment to trade liberalization and connectivity between ASEAN and its partners.

Further efforts should be made towards the establishment of a rules-based multilateral cooperation arrangement in the region, and formulate and share universally-accepted norms. As part of these efforts, Cuba, Colombia and South Africa will join the Treaty for Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) at this Summit.

Last but not least, the ASEAN Community's identity and solidarity need to be upheld in this time of trial and tribulation. I welcome the adoption of the Report on ASEAN Identity. The recommendations of the ACC on encouraging the flying of the ASEAN Flag in member states and the use of the ASEAN Anthem in official ASEAN functions are also well-received.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our schedule in the next few days are full. I place my trust in the far sight and wise deliberation of ASEAN leaders, and in the active participation and contribution from our Partners and prominent international institutions, such as the UN, IMF, WB and WHO, in the success of our events.

In solidarity and resilience, ASEAN shall surely rise above its challenges, bring abundance and prosperity to its 600 million citizens, and shall surely be an effective force for peace, stability and development in the region and the world.

I hereby declare the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits convened.

Thank you for your kind attention./.
VNA/VNP