Vietnam helps raise ASEAN’s role and prestige in int’l arena
Marking 40 years of ASEAN (August 8), Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem reviewed the group’s major achievements, future objectives as well as Vietnam’s contributions since its admission in 1995, in an interview with VOV.
VOV: Would you brief us on the achievements of ASEAN over the past four decades? What are the most important achievements?
Mr.Khiem: Since its founding on August 8, 1967, ASEAN has made tremendous achievements and been acknowledged as one of the most successful regions in the world by the international community.
The most notable and important achievement is that ASEAN has now been grouped with 10 Southeast Asian countries, creating basic changes in its nature as well as the situation in the region. It has expanded its cooperation with member countries to various areas, constituting a framework and solid foundation for enhancing regional integration and providing active support for member countries in their socio-economic development.
In addition, the group’s role and prestige has been elevated. ASEAN has become an important political and economic entity in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific, a driving force behind stronger cooperation and regional integration in the Asia-Pacific region, and an important partner of regional countries and other big economic centres in the world. Last but not least, ASEAN has maintained its fundamental principles and fully tapped its potential. In brief, the group has strengthened solidarity and cooperation to overcome the ups and downs of history and challenges of the era.
The theme of this year’s anniversary “One ASEAN at the Heart of Dynamic Asia is a strong message, showing the group’s increasing role and prestige in the region and the world.
VOV: What are the future objectives of ASEAN? And what will member countries do to reach them?
Mr Khiem: The biggest objective that the group has been pursuing is to build an ASEAN Community by 2015 based on the three main pillars: the security community, the economic community and the socio-cultural community. The establishment of the ASEAN Community will be outlined in the ASEAN Charter to be adopted at the upcoming ASEAN Summit to be held in Singapore late this year. At the same time, ASEAN will continue to expand relations with non-ASEAN partners for the sake of peace, stability and mutually beneficial cooperation.
The overall objective of the group is to build it into an inter-governmental cooperation organisation, which is more closely integrated and binding, but still open. To this end, all member countries should harmonise national and regional interests so as to establish a unified and closely integrated ASEAN Community. ASEAN should renew its apparatus and operational mechanisms, and adopt practical measures to narrow the development gap between member countries. In addition, it should establish its central role in settling regional issues, promoting and connecting linkages in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in economics and trade, and further expanding equitable relations with non-ASEAN members.
VOV: Vietnam has made significant contributions to the development of the group since its admission in 1995, which have been acknowledged by other member countries. Could you elaborate on these contributions?
Mr Khiem: First of all, Vietnam has helped expand ASEAN into a single bloc in Southeast Asia by admitting Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia as its members. It successfully organised the 6th ASEAN summit in Hanoi in December 1998, helping the group promote solidarity, cooperation and international prestige at the most difficult times. The country has played an important role in mapping out major cooperation orientations and policies such as the ASEAN Vision 2020, the Hanoi Programme of Action, and the Hanoi Declaration on Narrowing the Development Gap. It has actively cooperated with other ASEAN member countries to perfect regional security mechanisms, conducted negotiations on investment, service and trade liberalisation and promoted cooperation among member countries and with non-ASEAN entities such as the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), the East-West Economic Corridor, as well as other cooperation areas.
In regard to external relations, Vietnam has made significant contributions to strengthening cooperation between ASEAN and its dialogue partners, helping raise the group’s voice and prestige in the international arena.
VOV: Thank you. (VOV)
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