Vietnam fulfills dream of large ASEAN family

VOV.VN - The nation’s high sense of responsibility as part of ASEAN has reassured members and supports the participation of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia in the bloc, thereby turning the dream of an ASEAN family into a reality.

First established in 1967 with five members, ASEAN has now gathered 10 member countries into the common group within the region.

Despite joining the regional bloc late and overcoming many significant barriers, Vietnamese contributions have made ASEAN increasingly strong, with a big stature and growing voice in the region and throughout the world.

Talking to reporters on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of ASEAN's founding, Ambassador Dr. Luan Thuy Duong affirmed that Vietnam initially made the dream of a large ASEAN family consisting of all 10 Southeast Asian nations come true back in 1999.

Since 1988, the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has been fully aware of the difficulties facing the country, particularly in the context of being surrounded by Western countries and embargoed, while socialist factions globally were showing signs of disintegration.

Therefore, the CPV aimed to make more friends with other regional countries and try to take advantage of positive public opinion around the world.

In line with this, joining ASEAN was not only a priority, but a prerequisite for the country to break the embargo and integrate into the world.

Historical facts also show that this is a wise decision because after joining ASEAN, the country has enjoyed more favourable conditions to normalise relations with the United States, China, Western countries, and then become more involved in multilateral international organisations.

This have also been breakthroughs in allowing the nation to carry out its foreign policy of multilateralisation and diversification in terms of international relations, therefore bringing plenty of benefits to the country, the Ambassador said.

Although ASEAN reached a high consensus relating to admitting Vietnam back in 1995, member countries still had many concerns as the nation is completely different from other members in terms of its political system.

Therefore, there were concerns that Vietnamese participation in the regional bloc would reduce solidarity and change the political nature of ASEAN, thereby slowing down the development process as well as the consensus principle of ASEAN. In addition, the level of Vietnamese economic development was initially completely different compared to other member nations.

Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia also have a history of ups and downs in their relations with the US and other Western countries. There was therefore concern that the participation of these countries in ASEAN would complicate ASEAN relations with major partners.

These were the three primary obstacles that Vietnam faced when promoting the admission of Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia to the regional grouping.

However, Vietnamese participation with a high sense of responsibility in ASEAN has reassured other members and supported the involvement of Laos and Cambodia in ASEAN.

It can be seen that Vietnamese efforts made the dream of a large ASEAN family consisting of all 10 Southeast Asian nations come true in 1999.

Two years after its the ASEAN Charter came into force, the country assumed the rotating Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2010. The nation has launched several initiatives such as expanding membership of the East Asia Summit and promoting ties with Russia and the US. It also took the initiative to host the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus (ADMM+) for the very first time.

Touching upon these Vietnamese-led initiatives, the Ambassador said firstly, the country has contributed to enhancing the position and expanding the role of ASEAN from covering Southeast Asia to influencing East Asia as a whole.

Secondly, the nation has contributed to promoting active engagement with two major countries, the US and Russia, who are also two members of the UN Security Council, in the ASEAN region and East Asia.

Thirdly, along with Russia and the US, Vietnam has contributed to accelerating engagement with many other major nations, even multilateral organisations outside the region with security, political, economic, and military interests in the region in security forums, as well as military and defence forums of ASEAN.

As a result, it has helped the bloc to maintain its central position in regional affairs and contributed to maintaining sustainable peace and stability throughout the region, not only in Southeast Asia but also the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

When Vietnam took on its second rotating chairmanship in 2020, the nation not only continued making positive contributions to maintaining the peaceful, secure, and stable environment of the region, but also take other initiatives. This was done to promote the prosperous development of ASEAN, regional connectivity, as well as helping the regional bloc overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic.

“We have also joined ASEAN in enhancing the partnership for peace and sustainable development with ASEAN's partners, bringing into full play ASEAN's contributory role in the international community, while enhancing the operational efficiency of ASEAN,” the diplomat added.