The 36th ASEAN Summit themed “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” took place in Hanoi on June 26 under the chair by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The 36th ASEAN Summit themed “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” took place in Hanoi on June 26 under the chair by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The online opening ceremony saw the participation of leaders of the 10 ASEAN member countries, Vietnam’s National Assembly (NA) Chairwoman and Chair of 41st General Assembly of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA 41) Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, NA Permanent Vice Chairwoman and head of the delegation to AIPA Tong Thi Phong, and Deputy PM, Foreign Minister and Chairman of the National ASEAN 2020 Committee Pham Binh Minh.
Ambassadors of the ASEAN member nations, and representatives from foreign diplomatic missions and international organisations in Hanoi also attended the event.
In his opening remarks, PM Phuc highlighted the theme of the Summit in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic which is hitting the region and the world.
He applauded the spirit of solidarity and coordination among the countries, and prompt actions they are taking in the fight against the disease.
The PM called for stronger cooperation among the ASEAN member nations to effectively cope with the pandemic, affirming that Vietnam will continue to closely work with the other ASEAN member nations in the combat.
He said ASEAN leaders will discuss measures to address the social and economic impact caused the COVID-19 crisis, post-pandemic recovery plans for the regional countries in the immediate time, and orientations to accomplish cooperation and integration goals of ASEAN in the year.
PM Phuc thanked leaders of the ASEAN member nations and the bloc’s partner countries for their coordination with and support for Vietnam in joint efforts to respond to the pandemic, especially strong commitments at the Special ASEAN Summit and the Special ASEAN 3 Summit on COVID-19 in April.
He expressed his hope that the 36th ASEAN Summit will be an opportunity for the regional countries to affirm their solidarity, strong political will and high determination to overcome all the challenges.
The Vietnamese leader said he looks forward to the adoption of a Vision Statement on ASEAN's cohesion and proactive adaptation at the summit.
ASEAN focuses on priorities, initiatives in 2020
During the meeting, ASEAN leaders are scheduled to review the building of the ASEAN Community since the 35th summit, and discuss the implementation of priorities for this year as well as the grouping’s external affairs in the time ahead. They will also exchange views on regional and international issues of shared concern.
In this special circumstance, the leaders will focus on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and how to enhance the bloc’s recovery capacity.
The summit brings together leaders of nations and ministries in charge of politics-security, culture-society, and economy from the 10 ASEAN member countries, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, heads of ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) and ambassadors, among others.
It will feature a special session of the ASEAN leaders on women’s empowerment in the digital age initiated by Vietnam to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The session aims to affirm the ASEAN leaders’ commitment to fully and effectively implementing goals set in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, promoting gender equality and improving women’s role in socio-economic development and ASEAN cooperation.
Vietnamese National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi, and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Armida Alisjahbana are invited to the event.
There will be a dialogue between leaders of the ASEAN countries and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) led by Ngan, who is also the President of AIPA-41. NA Vice Chairwoman Tong Thi Phong, head of the Vietnamese delegation to AIPA, will attend the dialogue.
During the event, the ASEAN leaders and AIPA representatives will seek ways to enhance coordination between the two organisations in building the ASEAN Community towards the people and for the people.
The leaders will also hold a dialogue with ASEAN youths on promoting the role of the latter in the community building.
In another dialogue, representatives of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) are scheduled to present recommendations of the business community to the ASEAN leaders, in order to promote enterprises’ participation, and investment-trade freedom and facilitation in the region and the world.
The ASEAN leaders are expected to adopt the ASEAN Chair Statement on the outcomes of the 36th ASEAN Summit, a vision statement on ASEAN’s cohesion and proactive adaptation, and an ASEAN declaration on human resources development for the changing world of work.
The 36th ASEAN Summit offers an opportunity for Vietnam and the other ASEAN member countries to continue seeking measures to build the ASEAN Community, strengthen solidarity and unity, enhance mutual support, improve cooperation efficiency and focus on implementing priorities and initiatives in 2020, while improving ASEAN’s proactiveness in response to regional and international challenges, including COVID-19.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s remarks at ASEAN-36 Summit's opening ceremony
Following is the full text of PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc's opening speech.
Mdm. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, President of AIPA 41,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my great pleasure to warmly welcome the leaders of ASEAN and all of you to the Opening Ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit.
1. For the first time in more than half a century, our ASEAN Summit has been held virtually. The recent 73rd World Health Assembly and various other major international meetings were also held on the cyber-networks that link our world. This reflects the reality that the ways we conduct our work must now change, due to not only the advances of science and technology, but also the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out and quickly became widespread from the beginning of this year, has swept away the achievements that humankind had accumulated for years, deprived and threatened the lives of millions. A World Bank report on 8 June projected that the global economy would experience a serious decline with a 5.2 percent contraction in global GDP. Per-capita income would drop by 3.6 percent. Seventy to a hundred million people would fall into extreme poverty, and the risk of social instability would mount. More than 40 percent of all manufacturing industries and business sectors across countries are being directly affected by lockdown and restrictions imposed for disease control.
The pandemic is fanning the flames of dormant challenges within the political, economic and social environment of the world and in each region. International institutions and international law are being seriously challenged. Strategic friction among the major powers are exposing themselves and escalating. While the entire world is stretched thin in the fight against the pandemic, irresponsible acts and acts in violation of international law are still taking place, affecting the environment of security and stability in certain regions, including in our region.
The strong advances of science and technology and the digital transformation taking place around the globe present both opportunities and challenges to countries, especially the developing ones. Social conflicts stemming from social disparities, discrimination and stigma have deteriorated due to the pandemic, further widening the divide within countries.
In such context, countries need to uphold the spirit of solidarity, cooperation and the sense of responsibility towards the international community. The role and mission of major countries, and of multilateral and regional organizations have become more prominent than ever.
2. ASEAN is pursuing the theme of Cohesive and Responsive amidst volatilities in the regional and global landscape. 5 years since the establishment of the Community, we are now standing before the opportunities and challenges generated by the global geo-strategic shift and the impacts of COVID-19. Against that backdrop, our ASEAN Community has well displayed its mettle. Our unity has given us the strength to effectively harness the opportunities and rise above those challenges.
In the early months of this year, COVID-19 has taken heavy toll on the economy and society of ASEAN member states. It pains us to witness the suffering of tens of thousands of families whose loved ones passed away due to the disease. We empathize with the damage and difficulties endured by hundreds of thousands of disrupted businesses and millions of workers deprived of their livelihood, particularly those in the tourism and service sectors. Yet we shall not falter!
ASEAN has taken timely actions as a responsive and cohesive Community. ASEAN’s health emergencies response network and cooperation with partners were activated from the very first days. ASEAN countries have engaged in active information and experience sharing, and coordination in disease control. Thanks to the highest of political commitment and a cohesive and comprehensive approach at the national and regional level, ASEAN as a whole, has embodied the fortitude of a united and cohesive group, full of sharing and caring.
Let me thank you, ASEAN leaders and ASEAN partners, who have joined their hands with Viet Nam – the ASEAN chair – in the collective response against the pandemic, especially the strong commitments you have pledged at the Special ASEAN and APT Summits on COVID-19 in April.
Despite the complex developments of the pandemic, the ASEAN members have essentially kept the situation under control. Compared to the global average, we are enjoying a high proportion of recoveries over total confirmed cases. Fatalities are low and the rate of fatality is dropping. For many days now, in several ASEAN countries, there has been no new case of community transmission. While slower growth rates are projected for this year, ASEAN economies are expected to sustain stability.
3. In the latter half of 2020, the heavy burden rested upon the governments of ASEAN members and upon us as the leaders is to lead ASEAN out of this period of adversity. The successful completion of this task will stand as a testament to the lasting values and vitality of our Resilient and Dynamic Community.
I expect that the 36th ASEAN Summit will be an occasion for ASEAN member states to reassert our spirit of solidarity, our strong political will and commitment to rise above the adversities of the pandemic and keep forging ahead. On the one hand, we need to maintain good control over the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other, we should promptly repair its damage, and revitalize our economy and resume our economic development. This should be coupled with efforts to realize the set targets for ASEAN cooperation and integration of this year.
At this Summit, we will discuss a comprehensive post-pandemic recovery plan for ASEAN, and hasten the implementation of new initiatives, including the creation of the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, the building of an ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies, and the establishment of an ASEAN Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Public Health Emergencies.
We will conduct the mid-term review of the implementation of the Blueprints under the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, provide feedbacks on a post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision, and improve the efficiency of ASEAN work by evaluating the enforcement of the ASEAN Charter.
ASEAN will also actively engage the various sectors and stakeholders in society in the process of building a People-Oriented and People-Centered Community.
Today, we will have the first-ever Special Session on Women's Empowerment in the Digital Age. This is a strong message as to ASEAN's commitment to promoting gender equality and enhancing women's role and contribution in social life. The session is also a concrete way to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on Gender Equality. We will also have useful interfaces with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), Youth representatives, and the businesses of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) on this occasion.
The efforts to strengthen connectivity and promote equitable and sustainable development of ASEAN these past years will continue to be bolstered during this year. Such initiatives as the ASEAN Smart Cities’ Network and Connecting the Connectivities need to proceed effectively and extensively. In addition, we should also pay due attention to enhancing the complementarities between sub-regional cooperation, including the Mekong sub-region, and ASEAN agenda, in terms of the sustainable management and use of water resources.
As an open community and a partner for sustainable peace and development of the international community, ASEAN will tirelessly seek to expand and deepen its equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with our partners. ASEAN is advancing ties with the United Nations in 2020 – when both Indonesia and Viet Nam are non-permanent members of the UNSC and are actively contributing to the UN’s efforts to maintain peace, security and development. We are strongly committed to economic liberalisation and integration, and are determined to quickly conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
To uphold ASEAN’s centrality in the region, we have been improving our mechanisms for dialogue, cooperating to build trust, and reinforcing an open, transparent and rules-based order. At the same time, ASEAN will continue to promote and uphold rules and norms of conduct, advance the relations among countries in the region in accordance with the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC). ASEAN observes and promotes the full and strict compliance to the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and is making every effort to establish an effective Code of Conduct (COC) in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Ladies and gentlemen,
4. The common denominator of shared interest, which has brought the ASEAN members together over the last five decades, has multiplied in the wake of adversity and challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of ASEAN's mettle as a maturing community.
I am deeply confident that after every storm and typhoon, the stalks of padi rice on the logo of ASEAN will grow tighter-knit, and from it more grains of rice will spring forth, filled with the love, care and solidarity that define our big ASEAN family.
At this Summit, I look forward to the adoption of the ASEAN Leaders' Vision Statement on a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN: Rising above Challenges and Sustaining Growth. This shall be the compass for ASEAN to move ever confidently forward.
In this spirit, I declare the 36th ASEAN Summit open.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I wish you good health and many successes./.VNA
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and delegates render salute to ASEAN flag at the opening ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit (Photo: VNA)