actively helped to maintain intra-bloc solidarity, and strengthened cooperation among member states and between the group and its partner countries, thus contributing remarkably to ASEAN’s development and successes today.

Vietnam actively contributes to strengthening ASEAN solidarity hinh anh 1


In particular, as the Chair of ASEAN 2020, Vietnam has actively joined hands with other member countries in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to affirm the calibre of a resilient and dynamic community.

Over the last 25 years, Vietnam has made important and active contributions to building and developing the ASEAN Community, showing its active and responsible role in the group.

In the context of the serious financial crisis in Asia in 1997-1998, Vietnam successfully hosted the 6th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi in December 1998, just three years after it officially became a member of the bloc.

With the approval of the Hanoi Plan of Action, the 6th ASEAN Summit significantly contributed to promoting solidarity and cooperation, and restoring ASEAN's image, especially orienting ASEAN's cooperation and development in the following years to realise the group’s Vision 2020.

Vietnam successfully completed its role as Chairman of the 34th ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and successfully hosted important conferences, forums and dialogues.

With Vietnam’s efforts, ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum have achieved important results and continued to develop in the right direction in line with the interests of each ASEAN country and the common interests of the entire region.

The role and responsibility of Vietnam were clearly demonstrated through its successful undertaking of ASEAN Chair in 2010 – the important period for the process of building the ASEAN Community as this was seen as a pivotal year in the remaining five years for ASEAN to fulfill its goal to build the Community, and the year ASEAN began to officially stabilise its operation as an apparatus in line with the legal framework regulated by the ASEAN Charter.

Vietnam and other ASEAN member nations set a cross-cutting priority for ASEAN cooperation in this period to accelerate actions in order to realise the goal of forming the ASEAN Community. The successful completion of the ASEAN Chair 2010 helped enhance Vietnam's international role and position and promote the image of a reformed and dynamic Vietnam with an independent and self-reliant foreign policy.

With its two positions, Vietnam helped to push forwards the establishment of the ASEAN Community in 2015, thus enhancing the bloc's international role and position.

Vietnam has contributed to the formation, consolidation and development of ASEAN-established and led institutions, and promoting the bloc’s external relations by deciding to expand the East Asia Summit (EAS) to admit the US and Russia.

It hosted the first ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM ) and lobbied to represent ASEAN at the G-20 Summits in the Republic of Korea and Canada.

The country also proposed a series of initiatives and programmes such as "ASEAN Vision 2020 and Implementation Plan", “Declaration of ASEAN Concord II”, "ASEAN Charter", “2009-2015 Roadmap for ASEAN Community”, “ASEAN Integration Initiative,” and “Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity”.

In recent years, Vietnam has been evaluated as a dynamic, responsible and prominent member with its important contribution to maintaining unity, peace and security in the ASEAN region.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said that Vietnam has actively prepared for its role as the ASEAN Chair 2020 from the end of 2018, with the hope to lay next bricks for building a strong ASEAN Community.

"Since joining the "regional boat” of ASEAN in 1995, Vietnam has joined hands with other member countries in rowing the boat through many difficulties, and struggling with fierce eddies of the “global ocean", he said.

Vietnam’s persistent efforts have contributed to building solidarity and unity within ASEAN, helping the bloc overcome difficult and challenging times, he stressed, noting that taking the role of the ASEAN Chair on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its accession, Vietnam has many advantages but will also face many difficulties and challenges.

Promoting ASEAN to grow strongly and sustainably will be a practical contribution of Vietnam to the Community, he added.

With the ASEAN Year 2020 themed 'Cohesive and Responsive', Vietnam wants to assert that solidarity is a decisive factor for the sustainability of ASEAN.

In the context that the COVID-19 pandemic seemed impossible for all programmes, Vietnam has promptly organised meetings in the form of video conferencing to ensure uninterrupted and smooth ASEAN activities. Vietnam has not only effectively contained the domestic spread of the disease, but also raised the spirit of international cooperation and mutual assistance in the most urgent and difficult times.

Dr. Balaz Szanto from Webster Thailand stressed that Vietnam is an important member and plays a key role in ASEAN.

Vietnam's ASEAN leadership will have distinct effects on important issues, including promoting the settlement of territorial disputes at sea, as well as other issues, in the ASEAN agenda, he noted.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister of Laos Thongphane Savanphet said Vietnam is doing well its role as the ASEAN Chair 2020, especially in leading the bloc to overcome the difficulties and challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vietnam has take the role as ASEAN chair since January 2020, the time when the COVID-19 was spreading globally.

Fully aware of its responsibilities, Vietnam has been responsive and flexible to together with other ASEAN member states fight the pandemic, said Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, who is also head of Vietnam ASEAN SOM (Senior Officials’ Meeting).

Vietnam has quickly seen the need to temporarily shift the focus of ASEAN cooperation to response to COVID-19 and viewed it as ASEAN’s top priority in the current context, Dung said.

Since the COVID-19 broke out, the country has played an active role in leading and coordinating ASEAN’s concerted efforts and cooperation with partners to contain the spread of the coronavirus and minimise its socio-economic impacts.

Against the backdrop of the disease uncertainty, Vietnam released a Chairman’s Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of COVID-19 on February 14, putting out an alert for the disease and showing its determination to foster regional and international cooperation in response to the virus. It has also held a series of teleconferences with ASEAN partners – China, the EU and the US – as well as international organisations to discuss ways to soon bring the epidemic under control.

“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,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in his remarks at the opening ceremony of the 36th ASEAN Summit held virtually in June. “The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of ASEAN's mettle as a maturing community.”

PM Phuc said he is deeply confident that “after every storm and typhoon, the stalks of paddy 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.”

In March, the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC)’s Working Group on Public Health Emergencies was set up as a proposal by Vietnam, as the Chair of ASEAN 2020, with a view to forge collaboration among ASEAN countries to cope with COVID-19.

Vietnam has also proposed various other initiatives to strengthen ASEAN’s joint efforts in dealing with the pandemic, such as the establishment of a regional reserve of medical supplies, a shared set of standard operating procedures for responding to public health emergencies, the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund, and a regional task force against fake news.

The country has also organised an online table-top exercise on COVID-19 response among regional military medical forces in May.

Vietnam is an invaluable member of the ASEAN Community and has actively shepherded a number of important initiatives and led efforts that continue to enrich the ASEAN agenda and experience, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to ASEAN Ambassador Noel Servigon told the Vietnam News Agency's reporter in Jakarta.

Vietnam’s remarkable success in containing the pandemic has served as a model not only in ASEAN but throughout the world, Servigon said. “Our concerted efforts this year will help ensure that all member states emerge stronger and better equipped to respond and recover from future pandemics”./.VNA