Vietnam is celebrating 25 years of being a member of the ASEAN. Nguyen Quoc Dung, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, talked with VIR’s Khoi Nguyen about the contributions of the country to the bloc since it joined.
|Nguyen Quoc Dung, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs |
Like the wider world, the whole region is still scrambling to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. How has Vietnam carried out its role as ASEAN chair to join with member states in this fight?
To cope with COVID-19, ASEAN members need to share common awareness about the danger of the pandemic, and intensify commitments in acting in concert with proper policies, and strengthening international cooperation.
Vietnam is undertaking the role as ASEAN chair during a difficult time. Fully aware of its responsibilities, it has taken the initiative in cooperating with regional member states to take drastic measures against the pandemic. The country has quickly and temporarily shifted the cooperation focus into responding to COVID-19, and this has been considered a prime priority of the ASEAN now.
Accordingly, in early February we released a statement of the ASEAN chair and soon formulated an anti-COVID-19 mechanism, defining that the ASEAN Coordinating Council would play a central role in coordinating all activities within the community and with partners. We also established an inter-sector taskforce at the deputy-ministerial level to directly propose and implement specific initiatives and solutions for the situation.
Vietnam has also organised a series of online conferences at all levels and the ASEAN Summit on coping with the pandemic. Some specific measures have been adopted, including the formulation of the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and a regional stockpile of medical supplies.
Vietnam’s accession to the ASEAN has turned out to be an essential policy for both the country and the bloc. What is your assessment of the 25-year membership of Vietnam in this organisation?
The past 25 years have witnessed a strong transformation of both the ASEAN and Vietnam. The ASEAN has become a dynamic and creative regional organisation with great economic potential, ranking fifth globally and attracting enormous interest of the international community.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has developed from a subsidised and struggling economy into a middle-income nation with a dynamic market-based economy, integrating deeply into the region and the wider world.
Vietnam today is now an active and responsible member of the ASEAN, with its major contributions to the bloc’s efforts in responding to emerging challenges and in furthering regional prosperity and development.
This has helped boost the prestige of both the ASEAN as a whole and Vietnam internationally.
What major benefits has Vietnam reaped from the membership over the past quarter of a century?
Vietnam has harvested massive important benefits. Firstly, the ASEAN has facilitated Vietnam to develop quickly and firmly. The bloc offers a peaceful and stable climate for development and helps Vietnam expand its ties with nations and territories. Moreover, the ASEAN has enabled Vietnam to expand markets and attract more resources from outside for national development, and to further its regional and international integration.
Secondly, the ASEAN has helped Vietnam in improving its capacity and competitiveness. To boost its regional and international integration, Vietnam has conducted its economic restructuring and improved its institution in line with regional and international standards.
Thirdly, the ASEAN has helped Vietnam enhance its prestige and status in the international arena, and also facilitate us to be more confident in joining international forums and organisations.
On the other hand, what has Vietnam contributed to the ASEAN?
Over the last 25 years, Vietnam has made important contributions to the ASEAN. Specifically, it has helped the bloc grow in strength and organisation, and solidarity as well.
Vietnam has actively engaged in developing the bloc’s major policies, including the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Economic Community, and related master plans.
Vietnam has also made active and responsible contributions to the implementation of ASEAN policies. It is among the nations with a high rate of implementing the bloc’s economic-linking solutions.
Only three years after joining the ASEAN, Vietnam succeeded in organising the sixth ASEAN Summit in Hanoi in 1998, and then brilliantly accomplished the role as ASEAN chair in 2010. Furthermore, Vietnam has also made contributions in the ASEAN’s decision to expand the East Asia Summit (EAS) in order to admit the US and Russia into the EAS, and organise the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus.