The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has demonstrated its resilience and effective response to great challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and fierce competition between big countries, according to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ha Kim Ngoc.
Ngoc granted an interview to the media about the achievements of ASEAN as well as the role and contributions of Vietnam as an active and responsible member on the occasion of the bloc's 55th founding anniversary.
The outbreak of the pandemic has disrupted most daily activities. However, under the guidance of Vietnam during the 2020 Chairmanship, ASEAN proved its adaptation capacity and promptly switched meetings and activities to online, thereby maintaining the momentum of cooperation, regional links and community-building efforts, and responding to the pandemic together.
The bloc quickly approved and implemented initiatives such as the establishment of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the establishment of a Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) for Public Health Emergencies (PHE) to promptly mobilise ASEAN's resources, as well as the support of partners for pandemic prevention and control.
ASEAN promoted post-pandemic recovery measures, including the development of an ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, signing an agreement on the ASEAN Travel Corridor Framework - an initiative to facilitate travel for official and business purposes in ASEAN, while the pandemic was still not completely under control. These measures have had positive effects, helping the ASEAN countries to both control the pandemic, gradually reopen, and promote cooperation in the revival of socio-economic development.
ASEAN will continue to face many challenges including the risk of inflation, economic recession, the risk of an energy and food crisis due to the impact of the conflict in Ukraine, competition among world powers, territory sovereignty disputes, and environment and climate change. However, it is believed that ASEAN will overcome these challenges, the Deputy FM said.
Firstly, the achievements obtained in the past 55 years are the foundation for the bloc to continue to promote cooperation, and improve its capacity and resistance to external influences.
Secondly, ASEAN has experience in dealing with difficulties and challenges, most recently dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thirdly, ASEAN continues to maintain internal solidarity and unity and has external support and assistance from ASEAN's partners and the international community.
Mentioning the achievements of ASEAN in the past 55 years, the Deputy FM said ASEAN has become one of the most successful regional organisations in the world in three aspects.
ASEAN has built and maintained a peaceful, stable and secure regional environment for decades. This is an important premise for the development and growth of the bloc.
ASEAN is now a community with an extensive level of cooperation and connectivity on the three pillars of politics-security, economy and culture-society. It is an organisation with increasing reputation and position, has open external relations, plays a central role in the region, and is supported by partners, he said.
Regarding major contributions that Vietnam has made to the bloc, the diplomat said that Vietnam, ranking third in terms of population and fourth in terms of area in the Southeast Asian region, has helped ASEAN become stronger in resources, scale and organisation, helping to put an end to skeptics, divisions and confrontations, and opening a new development era of peace, stability, cooperation and development.
Moreover, Vietnam has actively engaged in and contributed to major decisions in ASEAN, including the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Community 2025 Vision and Master Plans, as well as the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity, and the Initiative of ASEAN Integration, Ngoc said.
Vietnam has intensively rolled out cooperation activities in politics-security, culture-society and economy, while chairing many events, noted the diplomat