Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to ASEAN Igor Driesmans has appreciated Vietnam’s efforts in hosting the 53rd ASEAN Minister Meeting and related meetings amid unprecedented challenges.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh chairs AMM-53 (Photo: VNA)
“Vietnam has successfully managed to host a series of important ministerial meetings this year amid unprecedented challenges,” Ambassador Driesmans said in an interview recently granted to Vietnam News Agency correspondents following the closing of the ministerial meetings.
The technical and logistical aspects of this undertaking are impressive, taking into account the fact that the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) membership spans four continents and multiple time zones, he said.
The 27th ARF and the ASEAN-EU Post-Ministerial Conference took place at a time when Europe, Southeast Asia, and the entire global community are facing the COVID-19 pandemic. The fact that both meetings were successfully held – albeit virtually – serves as an important reminder about the value that all participants see in a multilateral approach to solving problems and enhanced cooperation at a time of great uncertainty, he added.
This joint effort is reflected in the “ARF Statement on Infectious Disease Outbreaks”, which was endorsed by all participants and calls, among others, for enhanced regional and international solidarity and cooperation in addressing the current pandemic and preventing future outbreaks.
According to the ambassador, the 27th ASEAN Regional Forum addressed important regional and international security issues such as fight against terrorism and transnational crimes, situation in the East Sea, and the Korean Peninsula.
The global pandemic has accelerated existing trends towards digitalisation of economies and societies, which in turn bring to the fore the need for more cooperation on developing international norms and guidelines for safeguarding cyber-security. This is a new and increasingly important area of work for the ARF.
It was the first time since the start of his mandate that EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell participated in the ASEAN-EU Post-Ministerial Conference, Driesmans said, assessing in what turned out to be a very fruitful meeting, both sides took stock of the width and depth of EU-ASEAN relations ranging from countering transnational crime, maritime security, human rights, sustainable development and smart cities to trade, education, connectivity, cybersecurity, and narrowing the development gap.
He went on more specifically, the meeting addressed a broad range of current issues such as EU-ASEAN cooperation to fight against COVID-19, in particular support from the EU for developing a comprehensive recovery framework and enhance collaboration for equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
“Our key message is that the European Union continues to be a reliable, trustworthy, and predictable partner of the region, the ambassador affirmed.
In addition to responding to the COVID-19 crisis and providing 800 million EUR of Team Europe support to ASEAN countries, the EU emphasised the importance of looking ahead, he noted.
According to the diplomat, the EU stands ready to work with ASEAN partners in ensuring fair and equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines. The bloc will continue to support ASEAN’s efforts to achieve a prosperous, safe and united community, as this brings lasting benefits to both regions.
In addition to maintaining its current supply lines, the EU look forward to accelerating joint economic recovery by further strengthening trade and connectivity with ASEAN. Trade facilitation, removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers, and connectivity in all shapes and forms – physical infrastructure, transport, digital, and people-to-people exchanges – will be play key roles in the joint post-COVID recovery. The EU is willing and able to deepen cooperation with ASEAN to ensure that both sides are able to use the existing opportunities to the fullest possible extent.
At the same time, regional and global challenges must not be ignored, he said. He added the EU noted the recent developments in the East Sea and as a staunch believer in international law and peaceful resolutions of conflicts, encouraged further progress in the negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the East Sea. “We look forward to its early conclusion in line with international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.”
During the Post-Ministerial Conference, the EU voiced its strong support to a more enhanced role for ASEAN in addressing the situation in Rakhine State and facilitating the repatriation process of the displaced persons, he said, adding that the bloc is proud to have cosponsored the ASEAN Regional Forum Statement on the Treatment of Children Recruited by or Associated with Terrorist Groups.
Looking ahead, green economy, digitalisation in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the fight against climate change will feature more and more prominently in the cooperation between the EU and ASEAN. The green agenda in particular remains a top priority for the EU and for our partnership with ASEAN, he stressed.
Commenting on Vietnam’s role as the Chair of ASEAN 2020 through its performances achieved from the beginning of the year, the diplomat said Vietnam has successfully managed to host a series of important ministerial meetings this year amid unprecedented challenges.
“While we have turned mostly online for now, we have been able over the past few months to maintain a good momentum in strengthening EU-ASEAN relations and reinforcing their strategic nature,” he emphasised.
Vietnam’s focus on strengthening a cohesive and proactive ASEAN cannot be more relevant than it is today, when the pandemic has provoked a global economic shock unlike any other in recent history. Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship has successfully upheld the spirit of solidarity, cooperation and the sense of responsibility towards the international community since the early days of this crisis.
Under the leadership of Vietnam, ASEAN has shown a real willingness to come together to find regional solutions and to mitigate the effects of this crisis, as illustrated by the Special ASEAN Summit on the Coronavirus Disease in April, he affirmed.
Ambassador Driesmans held that Vietnam has also been able to reaffirm the centrality and unity of ASEAN by maintaining the regular, substantive engagement between the region and its partners since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Looking ahead, EU-ASEAN relations will certainly continue to benefit from the steps taken during this year of crisis, allowing the two regions to take their strategic partnership even further, he added.
Laos lauds Vietnam’s hosting of AMM 53
Deputy Foreign Minister of Laos Thongphane Savanphet has spoken highly of Vietnam’s organisation of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM 53) and related meetings, saying despite their virtual form, all discussions took place frankly as held directly.
The official, who is also head of the SOM ASEAN of Laos, congratulated Vietnam on successfully hosting all events as scheduled and completing the discussion of a series of documents as planned amid the complex developments of COIVD-19 worldwide.
Priorities set by the country as Chair of ASEAN 2020 are progressing well, he added.
The AMM 53 and related meetings, held from September 9-12 via video conferences, reviewed the implementation of ASEAN-related works and the results of member nations’ conduction of the bloc’s plan on building its three pillars, vision, and master plan on ASEAN connectivity, among others.
At the event, participating countries agreed and were committed to collaborating in COVID-19 prevention and control, including experience exchange and joint research on vaccine production. ASEAN ministers also approved numerous important documents for cooperation for comprehensive economic recovery within the bloc, including a document on the establishment of an ASEAN fund in response to COVID-19 and the Joint Communique of AMM 53 ASEAN.
According to Thongphane Savanphet, at these meetings, ASEAN continued playing its central role in cooperating with international partners, planning programmes, and putting forth priorities in discussions. He said the bloc’s joint work with its development and dialogue partners have grown robustly in the past five years.
The meetings passed plans for ASEAN’s cooperation for 2021 – 2025 with partners like the US, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and India, among others. ASEAN ministers agreed to grant the development partnership status to Italy and France.
In addition, the ministers also discussed with representatives of ASEAN partner nations on the matters of security and peace, particularly traditional and non-traditional security issues.
The Lao official said the pandemic has interrupted the bloc’s the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) negotiation this year.
In the past week, as part of the event, working groups in charge of the negotiation met, with ASEAN and China agreeing to carry out online negotiation if the pandemic keeps going on longer and committed to concluding the work effectively as soon as possible.
Vietnam shoulders ASEAN Chairmanship during tough time: Chinese ambassador
Vietnam has shouldered the responsibility of ASEAN Chairmanship during a tough time, and the theme “Cohesive and Responsive” chosen by the country for this year couldn't be more relevant, Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN Deng Xijun has said.
He told the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) that facing the rising challenges within and outside the region, from the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis to changing geopolitical landscape, the role of ASEAN chair is more important in upholding ASEAN’s unique inclusive regionalism and in maintaining "ASEAN way" of consensus.
China is committed to work with Vietnam in implementing leaders’ consensus on solidarity against COVID-19 and common welfare of people, he stressed.
With the joint efforts of regional countries, the pandemic in the region is generally under control, Deng said, stressing that East Asia is expected to become the only region with positive economic growth this year.
According to the ambassador, efforts of ASEAN and China will focus on thoroughly defeating the pandemic, promoting regional economic recovery and cooperation on sustainable development, and strengthening the long-term planning of the ASEAN-China cooperation.
He noted that next year marks the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue partnership, to which foreign ministers attach great importance and commit to close collaboration on commemorative activities.
Both sides look forward to concluding the negotiations on the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity (2021-2025) as soon as possible, which draws directions for cooperation in the next five years.
The ministers are committed to jointly strengthening the third pillar of cooperation through more exchanges in education, culture, media, youth and more.
The ambassador said the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting was, on the whole, a full success.
ASEAN and China will strengthen regional anti-pandemic cooperation and step up regional economic recovery. They will also uphold multilateralism and free trade and champion open, inclusive and win-win cooperation.
China will give strong support to ASEAN community building, ASEAN centrality in East Asia cooperation and ASEAN solidarity, while working together with the grouping to ensure peace and development prevail in the region, he pledged.
Russian Ambassador hails Vietnam’s efforts as ASEAN Chair
Russia appreciates the efforts made by Vietnam as the Chair of ASEAN in 2020 and other ASEAN-led mechanisms, according to Russian Ambassador to ASEAN Alexander Ivanov.
In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency’s correspondents in Jakarta on the outcome of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-53) and related meetings, the Russian diplomat said Vietnam has successfully managed to perform its duties in the difficult time of COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a real challenge for our Vietnamese friends and we always do our best to facilitate their chairmanship”, he stressed.
Regarding the ASEAN-Russia cooperation, he said it is developing well, and both sides are promoting the strategic partnership in all directions.
Some of the joint activities have been transformed into the format of videoconferences, including the ASEAN-Russia Special Ministerial Meeting on COVID-19 where ASEAN and Russia agreed to exchange information and experience as well as work together on vaccine and many other issues.
Besides, Russia started to cooperate with ASEAN on fighting infectious diseases long time before the COVID-19 outbreak. A number of ASEAN experts have been trained at the International Research Centre for the Study of Biosafety and Human Well-Being in the Asia-Pacific Region in Vladivostok, he added.
Regarding the most important outcomes of the East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Alexander Ivanov said the EAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is the key step in preparation for the East Asia Summit where leaders of countries discuss topical issues for the Asia-Pacific region.
This year, the most pressing problem in the spotlight is the common fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, and its socio-economic impact on the region. In this context, Russia has initiated the preparation of the EAS Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening Collective Capacity in Epidemics Prevention and Response, which will not only give impetus to joint efforts in tackling the current crisis, but also contribute to enhancing regional resilience to the future pandemics.
Vietnam, China, Indonesia and Thailand are co-sponsoring this document that was also welcomed by all EAS Foreign Ministers as timely and very important, he said.
Meanwhile, he said the discussion at the ARF was focused on key issues of regional stability and countering the growing number of new threats and challenges, and Russia co-sponsored the ARF Ministers Statement on Cooperation in the field of security and in the use of ICTs.
With regard to promoting security of ICTs, which is a high-profile agenda in the fast-developing world, Russia has also initiated an ARF Workshop on Countering the Use of ICTs for Criminal Purposes as well as the development of the ARF Terminology in the field of Security of and in the use of ICT. Both these initiatives were endorsed by the ARF Ministers on September 12.
Ambassador Ivanov said the main attention at the ASEAN-Russia meeting and the ARF was paid to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, adding Russia was the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine called “Sputnik-V”.
“I wish to assure you that it wasn’t a matter of only a few months. Between the start of development of the adenoviral vector technology and the creation of the vaccine 40 years have elapsed. The technology has been tested on dozens of thousands of people.”
With this experience, Russia has managed to expeditiously develop this target vaccine. Mass production of this vaccine will start soon, and everyone wishing to do so can be vaccinated, he emphasised.
“Today more than 50 nations including countries from the Asia Pacific region have expressed their interest in acquiring the vaccine. We are also thinking about launching the mass production of the vaccine in the number of regional states.”
Touching on the issues of post-pandemic economic recovery, he said Russia has become a co-sponsor of the EAS Leaders’ Statement on Cooperation to Promote Steady Growth of Regional Economy initiated by China.
Moscow has also supported the Indonesian proposal to convene the EAS Health Experts Meeting on COVID-19, and is preparing an ASEAN-Russia Seminar “Joint Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak” to be held on September 30, 2020, he revealed, adding the idea of the seminar has been very much welcomed by the ASEAN and Russian Economic Ministers.
Regarding the regional security matters, Russia is one of the main proponents of the EAS Discussions on the Regional Security Architecture. This dialogue is of a special importance today, when the competition of great powers in the region is growing, which jeopardizes the role of ASEAN and ASEAN Centrality. Having this in mind, it is very topical to continue the regular practice of holding such consultations among EAS Ambassadors in Jakarta with optional participation of similarly-ranked officials from capitals.
Russian parliamentarian, scholar laud Vietnam's role in ASEAN
Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federal Council of Russia Konstantin Kosachev has lauded Vietnam’s efforts in its capacity as Chair of the 41st General Assembly of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-41) in ensuring AIPA’s activities amid the global COVID-19 outbreak.
Addressing the AIPA-41, Kosachev also spoke highly of Vietnam’s role in promoting global inter-parliamentary cooperation, saying that Vietnam is one of the locomotives playing an outstanding role in the Inter-Parliamentary Union and other international forums.
He added that inter-parliamentary exchanges at AIPA play an important role and Russia sees it as an important mechanism to strengthen peace, stability and mutually-beneficial cooperation.
In his speech, he said Russia regards ASEAN as one of the most successful organisations in Asia-Pacific and Russia-ASEAN dialogue is a crucial factor to ensure regional stability.
Regarding the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, he said it fails to hinder Russia – ASEAN ties with dialogue mechanisms being maintained online. Both sides fostered collaboration in hi-tech, innovation, digital economy via the Russia – ASEAN Business Council.
About Vietnam’s role in ASEAN, well-known Russian journalist and expert on international affairs Adam Shamir offered objective and positive feedback.
Talking with a Vietnam News Agency correspondent in Moscow, he said Vietnam takes the guiding role in ASEAN not only thanks to crowd but also dynamic population. Its industry and agriculture are growing while military power is maintained. Despite challenges, Vietnam’s efforts brought about positive results, contributing to developing ties with regional nations.
Vietnam’s entry to ASEAN has brought a new vitality and changes to the bloc, he said, adding that as Russia is paying more attention to Asia in general, Southeast Asia and Vietnam in particular, it is striving to develop economic and trade ties with the region.
In order to develop its Far East region, Russia considers Vietnam a favorite partner and a key ally, he said.
AMM 53: Japanese Ambassador to ASEAN praises the lead of Vietnam
The most important outcome of the of the 53rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM 53) is the commendable chairmanship of Vietnam and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.
Japanese Ambassador to ASEAN Chiba Akira made the remarks in an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency correspondent in Jakarta on September 14.
He said that Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu from Japan also commended the excellent ASEAN chairmanship through the lead of Vietnam.
“We think that ASEAN centrality was realised, which is the most important factor of ASEAN,” he stressed.
According to the diplomat, Japan and ASEAN had four meetings altogether, and there are many messages that came up from Japan.
First of all, the ASEAN plus Japan foreign ministers meeting focused on Japan's contribution to ASEAN, including the situation brought about by COVID-19. Japan reiterated its commitment to establishing a centre for health problems and emerging diseases. This will be established in ASEAN.
Japan also committed to dispersing US$1 million for a new COVID-19 response fund established by ASEAN as well as carry out its loan and investment programmes especially tailored for the bloc.
But the most important message that came from Japan this time is that Japan is in full support of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), he noted.
He went on to say that through the discussions, it was made clear that Japan's own vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) and AOIP have many common traits, such as treasuring rules of law and freedom of navigation and overflight.
“These are core principles of both AOIP and FOIP. So that is why Japan is in full support of AOIP,” Chiba Akira stressed.
According to the ambassador, this issue was not covered thoroughly during these meetings, but Japan has two plans for economic recovery. One is to support construction of infrastructure through loans and investments through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). And the other is to work together to rebuild the supply chain, with Vietnam being a very important country.
The Japanese government is encouraging Japanese companies to rethink their supply chain, and Vietnam is expected to lure Japanese investors, he said.
Canadian expert greatly values Vietnamese role as ASEAN Chair
Vietnam has successfully taken advantage of its position as ASEAN Chair to become a bridge that is capable of promoting intra-ASEAN connections as well as links between the bloc and its dialogue partners, a Canadian expert has said.
Jonathan Berkshire Miller, director and co-founder of the Ottawa-based Council on International Policy, highly values the country’s role in continuing to harmonise relations with China, while also striving to strengthen the partnership that exists within ASEAN and in the wider Indo-Pacific region.
The nation’s principled and resolute leadership has served to make progress in settling challenging issues relating to the East Sea, he emphasised.
Miller, who is also a senior expert of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, highlighted the country’s initiatives to change the way it organises dialogues and important meetings held throughout the year since taking on the role of Chair of ASEAN. Indeed, this can be considered to be an especially tough time due to the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which is ravaging the world, in addition to escalating regional geopolitical tensions.
Furthermore, Luis Silva, a Canadian expert on government relations, expressed his optimism about future prospects regarding co-operation between ASEAN and Canada.
Amid the context of the unpredictable developments relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Government is working to reduce its dependence on the Chinese market, whilst taking new measures aimed at expanding economic co-operation with other countries in East Asia, he said.
According to the expert, Canada, along with four ASEAN countries such as Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei, are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Canada and ASEAN are therefore implementing a working plan in line with the Canada-ASEAN Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment, whilst also considering the possibility of signing a free trade agreement, he said, adding that these moves indicate that both ASEAN and Canada are keen to further their co-operation ties.
The ASEAN-Canada dialogue partnership was first established in 1977. In the framework of the ASEAN-Canada Ministerial Meeting taking place online as part of the 53rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM 53), both sides discussed concrete measures aimed at strengthen co-operation in political, social, and cultural pillars.
Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne affirmed that with Canada having a major Pacific coastline, the North American country attaches great importance to its growing relationship with all ASEAN member nations, with his country and ASEAN able to unite in order to deal with important global issues whilst supporting peace, security, economic growth, and sustainable development for all countries.
At present, ASEAN is Canada's sixth largest trading partner, with two-way trade between the two reaching hit CAD 27.2 billion, equivalent to US$20.6 billion, in 2019.
This comes after Canadian investment and trade activities in Southeast Asia have witnessed a sharp increase in terms of volume across many areas, including oil and gas, mining, high technology, telecommunications, food processing, financial services, and aviation.