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Vietnam’s stature, mettle, wisdom manifested in ASEAN Chairmanship Year

The ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020 has contributed to effectively implementing the Party’s foreign policy, raising Vietnam’s role and position and helping the country create a firm stance in ASEAN and the region.

The ASEAN Chairmanship Year also opened up opportunities to expand and deepen relations with other ASEAN countries and partners, build a peaceful and stable international environment, and attract more support and resources from outside in service of the cause of nation building and safeguarding.

Looking back on 2020, the stature, mettle and wisdom of Vietnam were demonstrated clearly and comprehensively. The country left its deep imprint on the bloc, from selecting the correct theme of “Cohesive & Responsive ASEAN Community”, the proposal of priorities and initiatives, preparations for and organisation of conferences, and the drafting of documents, to the holding of dissemination activities.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi commended Vietnam’s exemplary role of the Chair of ASEAN in a year full of challenges.

Despite having to deal with the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters, he said, Vietnam still provided strong leadership in keeping the region cohesive and responsive to the challenges, placing ASEAN centrality and the interests of the region’s people at the forefront of efforts.

Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleusay Kommasith also spoke highly of Vietnam’s leadership in its capacity as the Chair of ASEAN in 2020, as well as the country’s contributions to enhancing the bloc’s role in regional and international forums.

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic spreading so quickly across the globe, he said, ASEAN has done a great job in disease prevention and control thanks to Vietnam’s leadership. He also highlighted ASEAN initiatives such as the establishment of the ASEAN COVID-19 response fund, the ASEAN regional reserve of medical supplies, and the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.

The central role of ASEAN was maintained throughout the year. The bloc also played a more active role in promoting peace and maintaining stability in the region. The joint statement from ASEAN countries’ Foreign Ministers issued on the bloc’s 55th anniversary reaffirmed its determination to keep Southeast Asia a peaceful, secure, stable, and neutral region.

Ambassador Noel Servigon, head of the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to ASEAN, asserted that despite the challenges, Vietnam not only successfully convened ASEAN meetings but also kept the momentum of cooperation going with all of ASEAN’s dialogue and external partners, as well as through ASEAN-led mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS).

Across these many interactions, Vietnam consistently underscored the primacy of ASEAN centrality, making it clear that the bloc is in the driver’s seat and decides the course of the region’s future, he said.

Vietnam flexibly mediated differences between ASEAN member states and at the same time handled any differences harmoniously and effectively. Its solid control of the COVID-19 pandemic and maintenance of socio-economic development make regional and international friends confident in the country’s leadership and support its initiatives and plans.

In the context of other multilateral forums being affected by the pandemic, ASEAN-led mechanisms such as ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, EAS, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus continued to promote their role as appropriate dialogue and cooperation mechanisms.

The ASEAN Secretary-General noted that amid many geostrategic uncertainties, Vietnam’s chairmanship also strengthened the ties of friendship and deepened trust between ASEAN member nations and with external partners through intensified cooperation.

Vietnam also helped ASEAN maintain its relationship with major countries.

The Lao top diplomat also hailed Vietnam’s role as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), saying it proposed a wide range of issues relating to ASEAN at the UN and in UNSC discussions, which helped the international community gain a better understanding of the bloc’s role.

Vietnam also held a meeting on cooperation between the UN and ASEAN - the first time the issue was tabled at the UNSC.

In its 25 years as an ASEAN member, Vietnam has made important contributions to the bloc. With the success of its ASEAN Chairmanship Year, it has become a firm and reliable partner, especially at a time when ASEAN faced difficulties and challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic./