As Chair of ASEAN 2020, Vietnam made the response to COVID-19 a top priority of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM 53) and related meetings, according to Dr Balazs Szanto from Webster University Thailand.
Dr Balazs Szanto from Webster University Thailand (Photo: VNA)
He said the bloc needs a common approach that is acceptable to all sides involved and takes into consideration the benefits of member nations.
At the event, economic and trade cooperation also received a significant attention, he noted, adding that it is key to economic recovery of the region after it has been hit by the pandemic and a global economic downturn.
Regarding the security matter, the Dr said Vietnam is holding an important role as a party claiming territorial sovereignty in the East Sea. By leading ASEAN, the nation has the conditions to push for the formation of a stronger common voice of the bloc on the issue, he stressed.
According to him, in the Joint Communiqué of the AMM 53, ASEAN reiterated its commitment to building a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) and respecting and sustaining the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC). Based on current developments, he said the bloc is likely to push for an effective COC and apply it practically.
The expert highlighted Vietnam’s positive initiatives as the ASEAN Chair, adding that they place regional economic recovery at the centre. Despite COVID-19 impacts, member nations have overcome challenges and gradually built a common response mechanism for an unprecedented difficulty by setting up a regional fund for COVID-19 response as well as boosting cooperation on health and regional linkage.
Intra-bloc connection is a priority in Vietnam’s agenda this year, he said, adding that in spite of the pandemic's impacts, ASEAN has demonstrated its solidarity.
He went on to say the crisis is an opportunity for the bloc to prove its central role and show its true value in regional cooperation and development matters.
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