Vietnam’s chairmanship helped ASEAN assert centrality in region: Official

In 2020, under Vietnam’s chairmanship and thanks to the joint efforts of member countries, partners, and friends, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) managed to weather challenges, strongly affirm its centrality in the region, and promote its stature and prestige in the world, according to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung.
Also head of the country’s delegation at ASEAN senior officials’ meetings, Dung made the assessment in a recent article reviewing Vietnam’s successes in its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020 amid numerous difficulties caused by complex and unprecedented developments in the global and regional geo-political and economic environments as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung. Photo: VNA

He noted that as Chair of ASEAN, Vietnam further affirmed its standing as one of the “core” and “leading” members actively contributing to the building and shaping of rules in the bloc and the region.

Dung quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as saying that Vietnam was a solid and trustworthy, partner when ASEAN faced many difficulties and challenges.

The outcomes will form an important prerequisite for Vietnam to join other ASEAN members to continue steering the “ASEAN vessel” through every challenge and help the bloc become more cohesive and responsive and obtain new successes in the time ahead, he stressed.

By navigating the unprecedented difficulties and challenges, ASEAN’s central role was consolidated even further in 2020, he said, adding that the bloc succeeded in sustaining momentum for the building of the ASEAN Community despite pandemic-related problems.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, ASEAN Chair in 2020 at the opening ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit. Photo: Thong Nhat/VNA

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the plenary session of the online 36th ASEAN Summit. Photo: VNA

More than 550 meetings were converted to online gatherings last year, which not only helped maintain dialogue and cooperation in the region but also shaped a new working method that will enhance flexibility and responsiveness.

The bloc made efforts to help settle common challenges and issues, and its cooperation with the UN and relevant agencies was strengthened, according to the Deputy Foreign Minister.

In addition, ASEAN continued to assert its important role and voice in essential issues linked with regional peace and security. In complicated issues like the East Sea, it has always maintained close coordination, consensus, and a common voice.

In particular, he added, the role of international law was emphasised strongly by member countries in 2020, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea - the legal framework regulating all activities on seas and oceans.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, ASEAN Chair in 2020 attends the 15th East-Asia Summit via video conference. Photo: Thong Nhat/VNA

The Vietnamese Prime Minister chairs a special ASEAN Summit in responding to COVID-19. Photo: Thong Nhat/VNA

The ASEAN Defense Senior Officials' Meeting (ADSOM) via video conference in Hanoi. Photo: Duong Giang/VNA

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh attends the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Retreat. Photo: VNA

The ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) convenes its first meeting in 2021 in a virtual format. Photo: VNA

Former Deputy Prime Minister Vu Khoan and Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung
attend the high-level roundtable on “A cohesive and responsive ASEAN community:
2020 reflection for bolder joint actions”. Photo: VNA 


The bloc last year continued efforts to expand and intensify existing partnerships, with ASEAN-EU relations elevated to a strategic partnership and numerous measures taken to reinforce ties with other partners.

In the face of some partners seeking to persuade ASEAN to follow their own initiatives or strategies, the bloc remained persistent regarding the targets, principles, and priorities stated in the document on the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. It also called on partners to offer support in implementing its orientations and priorities for common peace, stability, and development, Dung said.


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