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VN’s another step forward in regional integration

Hanoi (VNA) – The ratification of the ASEAN Charter by Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet on March 6, 2008 marked an important step in the country’s participation in ASEAN as well as its international and regional integration, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem wrote.

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed the ASEAN Charter at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore last November, marking a historical milestone in the organisation’s development process.

The Deputy PM emphasised:

“Vietnam has officially committed to implementing the most important and comprehensive legal document of ASEAN, which will create a foundation for all activities and conducts inside the association.

“The event that Vietnam became the fifth country to ratify the ASEAN Charter also reflected the nation’s strong and active commitment to ASEAN and an important evidence of its active international and regional integration policy.”

He went on to say that Southeast Asia and ASEAN constitutes an important part of the Vietnamese State’s foreign policy of multi-lateralisation, diversification and friendly neighbourliness as it has a strategic significance for Vietnam and directly relates to the country’s security and development environment. Furthermore, ASEAN cooperation does not only cover the Southeast Asian region and 10 ASEAN members but is also closely linked to the relationship and policy of important partners outside.

As an active economic and strong political organisation during the past 40 years of development, ASEAN has operated based on its political document – the Bangkok Declaration – signed on August 8, 1967. Now in the context of speedy developments in the region and the world, the grouping has its own Charter, the deputy PM said.

“The Bangkok Declaration and other political documents constituted a collection of important principles, regulations and code of conducts which has helped ASEAN develop from five members in a region of contradictions and conflicts into the 10-member association of “unity in diversity”, from a low developing region into an ASEAN of active and dynamic economic development in the world,” he noted.

Deputy PM Khiem said that the introduction and implementation of the ASEAN Charter is an indispensable and significant development step in three aspects.

Firstly, through the ASEAN Charter, all previous and current principles, regulations and code of conduct of ASEAN have been updated systematically in a legal document. Hence, the ratification of the ASEAN Charter means that ASEAN members from now on will implement not only all commitments in ASEAN in a cooperation goodwill and voluntary spirit but also are obliged to follow them, the Deputy PM elaborated.
Secondly, the Charter marks a new advancing step in improving ASEAN’s institutional framework and operational apparatus by making them more transparent and scientific with the emphasis laid on the role of the Secretary General and the Secretariat.

Thirdly, the ASEAN Charter indicates ASEAN leaders’ visions and strong political determinations to achieve the target of establishing a tightened and powerful ASEAN based on a ASEAN Community having three mainstays of political, economic and social-cultural security by 2015.

Furthermore, “the ASEAN Charter manifests another meaning to Vietnam,” Deputy PM Pham Gia Khiem said, noting the country’s contributions to the making of the document.

Together with other ASEAN member countries, Vietnam has enthusiastically taken part in outlining the ASEAN Charter right from the start, Deputy PM Khiem said, stressing that the country had worked to defend the group’s basic goals of peace, stability, regional alliance, and fundamental principles of narrowing development gaps, consensus and non-intervention to affirm the group as an inter-governmental entity.

Vietnam also exerted efforts on protecting several new principles of the Charter, including the ban on using a group member country’s territory as the base to launch activities against the other, Deputy PM Khiem elaborated.

“Vietnam’s contributions have been highly valued as having greatly helped draft the Charter content to make the document eligibly meet the new requirements put forth for the group in the new stage of development, he affirmed.

“Those contributions showed the continuity of Vietnam’s enormous and active involvement in ASEAN since it joined the group in July 1995,” Deputy PM Khiem said, adding for the past more than 12 years, Vietnam has been recognised by other ASEAN member countries and outside partners as an active contributor to peace, cooperation and development in the regional group.

Deputy PM Khiem also discussed the need for ASEAN member countries to be more active and professional when executing the ASEAN Charter, whether when joining in negotiations and undertaking the group’s decisions and cooperation agreements.

The Charter requires each member country to care more about the group’s common goals to ensure the cohesion and harmonious integration of national and regional development priorities, he said.

Additionally, the Charter requires each group member country to adjust its administrative apparatus as well as financial and human resources development in order to actively and efficiently take part in ASEAN cooperation programmes.

“The ASEAN Charter is an important turning point in opening a new phase for ASEAN to grow more dynamically and effectively," Deputy PM Khiem noted, stressing that as a member of the group, Vietnam will spare no efforts to translate the Charter spirit and content into action so that it can benefit each member country in particular and the group in general and contribute to peace, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

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