Solidarity and unity are the foundation for ASEAN’s strength, which is clearly demonstrated in the current fight against COVID-19, Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son told the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting
(AMM-54) that opened on August 2 via videoconference.
ASEAN Foreign Ministers attend AMM-54 (Photo: VNA)
Sharing the significance of vaccines in pandemic response efforts, Son proposed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bring into full play cooperation opportunities with partners, especially in procurement and technology transfer for vaccine production.
In the face of serious socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, more than ever, ASEAN needs to strongly promote the internal strength of a resilient and cohesive Community, affirm its role and responsibility to the development of the region, he stated, adding that Vietnam maintains its active and responsible participation in the process of building the ASEAN Community Vision beyond 2025.
The minister suggested ASEAN continue to promote the role of ASEAN-led mechanisms, uphold solidarity, promote internal resources, ensure a common voice and fair approach in relations with partners, and maintain the bloc’s central role in the regional structure.
He shared his concerns about complicated developments in regional hotspots such as the Korean Peninsula and the East Sea as well as non-traditional security challenges such as cyber-security, climate change, sea level rise and marine environment degradation.
Son said that although peace, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea are the common interests of all countries, the region has still witnessed actions contrary to international law, including actions that damage the marine environment.
The minister proposed ASEAN maintain its principled stance and uphold international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), stressing the importance of the convention as the basis for determining the legitimate rights and interests of coastal states as well as the framework that regulates all activities in all seas and oceans.
Son also emphasised the neccesity to implement the 5-point Consensus and proposed speeding up humanitarian assistance to the Myanmar people in the context that the country is being heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the meeting, ASEAN Foreign Ministers discussed the building process of the ASEAN Community, the bloc’s external relations and regional and international issues of mutual concern.
They welcomed initiatives such as the ASEAN Shield to strengthen ASEAN’s concerted power to respond to natural disasters and promote multilateralism, and the Consolidated Strategy on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
They welcomed Vietnam's hosting of ASEAN forum on sub-regional cooperation later this year.
The ministers emphasised the need to intensify cooperation in pandemic response, suggesting the urgent implementation of the ASEAN Action Plan on Vaccine Security and Self Reliance, the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies as well as the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.
Participants also discussed measures to strengthen and deepen ASEAN’s relationship with its partners, uphold the central role of ASEAN, affirm the value of ASEAN-led mechanisms in promoting dialogue, cooperation and participation, and active and constructive contributions of partners to peace, security and development in the region.
They agreed to establish Dialogue Partnership with the UK and Sectoral Partnership with Brazil; and welcomed and approved the proposals to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) by the Netherlands, Greece, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Denmark.
The ministers took the occasion to exchange views on many regional and international issues of common concern such as the East Sea, the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East. They reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the East Sea and expressed their concerns over the reinforcement and serious incidents, including actions that damage the marine environment.
They asserted their consistent stance on addressing disputes by peaceful measures on the basis of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, calling for parties to restrain, and not to militarise, not to use or threaten to use force.
The meeting reaffirmed the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), welcomed the resumption of negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) between ASEAN and China, stressed the need to maintain a favourable environment for COC negotiations and to continue efforts towards an effective, practical COC in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
The countries also emphasised the necessity to implement the 5-point Consensus comprehensively and promptly, while affirming ASEAN’s desire to support Myanmar to overcome difficulties and find solutions to the current situation, and provide humanitarian assistance for the nation to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 2 afternoon, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers are scheduled to attend meetings of the ASEAN Political-Security Community Council (APSC), the ASEAN Coordinating Council, and the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ); and a dialogue with representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)./.