Vietnam will be a “responsible, active, and proactive” member of the ASEAN family which strives to enhance the regional bloc’s integration and aggressively supports the ASEAN Community-building process as well as the Community’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture.


Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh made the statement in his article titled “Vietnam 2015: A proactive force for peace, stability and community-building in Southeast Asia” recently published on the weekly NewEurope in Brussels, Belgium.

He said 2015 will be the year that Vietnam steps up and further accelerates economic reforms, with a priority on strengthening market economy institutions and streamlining bureaucracy while also engaging in broader social and political change.

“In 2015, Vietnam expects the conclusion of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, bringing the total number of its signed free trade agreements (FTA) to 12 which cover more than 50 countries, among them more than 15 members of the G20. Vietnam optimistically foresees itself to be the first (and perhaps only) ASEAN member state to have FTA arrangements, whether bilateral or multilateral, with all the major powers and economies of the world”.

Turning to regional conflicts, he noted that Vietnam believes strongly that responsibility to exercise self-restraint lies foremost with the major powers which are best positioned and equipped through their actions to build trust and promote the peaceful resolution to disputes.

Together with the member states of ASEAN, all the stakeholders in the region must work collectively to address the root causes of war and conflict, the Deputy PM urged.

As for Vietnam’s relations with the European Union (EU), Minh affirmed that the EU is one of the most important and comprehensive partners and supporters in Vietnam’s ongoing course of reform.

He mentioned the EU’s great interests in a peaceful, stable, and integrated ASEAN, and Vietnam and the other ASEAN countries share a common desire to see greater European involvement in seeking to ensure cooperation, peace, stability, and prosperity throughout East Asia.

Related to the East Sea disputes, he said ASEAN and China have agreed to an early conclusion of the “Code of Conduct in the East Sea” while working hard in an attempt to reap an early harvest in managing disputes.

Giving forecast on the 2015 prospects, Minh raised concern about continued major challenges faced by the region, including adaptability to the intersection of the interests of major regional powers.

According to him, disputes over territory and maritime zones should be expected to become more complex and even fraught with danger. At the same time, non-traditional security issues such as piracy, transnational crime, and disorderly or illegal migration are likely to become more acute as well.

Concluding his article, he expressed optimism about Vietnam’s position as an increasingly important gateway and bridge for the EU–ASEAN relations, and through ASEAN, onward relations with the wider community of East Asian nations.