The 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits ended after four working days. The closing ceremony and transfer of the ASEAN Chairmanship to Brunei Darussalam, and more than 20 high-level sessions, with over 80 documents passed was the largest number of events and documents that have been organized and passed so far.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung, Head of the ASEAN-Vietnam Senior Official Meeting (SOM), said the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits have achieved the set goals, with all the initiatives, proposals and priorities of the year being presented and approved by leaders.
“It is very exciting that among the adopted fields, there are contents of ASEAN community building, coping with Covid-19 pandemic and the recovery steps of ASEAN countries,” Deputy Minister Dung said.
The issues posed by Vietnam were completed and received a very strong response from leaders of ASEAN as well as from partner countries. Assessing the initiatives raised by Vietnam, ASEAN countries said that they had become an ASEAN brand, which is “cohesive and proactive”. Other countries also said that the priorities set by Vietnam for the ASEAN community building were very satisfactory and appropriate. As Vietnam shifted focus to responding to Covid-19, measures to support the people and business community, partners all praised this as timely action and responded strongly to the proposal of Vietnam.
As a result, initiatives such as the ASEAN Foundation for Epidemic Response, Regional Emergency Medical Supplies Reserve and the ASEAN center for responding to public health emergencies and epidemics were supported enthusiastically by other countries.
Determination of ASEAN-China in the COC process
In a year full of difficulties and challenges, Vietnam has made efforts and tried its best, Mr. Nguyen Quoc Dung said: “Right from the beginning of the year, the Covid-19 pandemic occurred, forcing us to change many plans, at the same time seeking ways to convince countries in the region.
“There was skepticism when changing the format of ASEAN meetings, whether it could be done in such a complex context.
“In addition, in the context that countries were preoccupied with fighting disease and preventing the impact within the national framework, is the community building task still relevant? Or are the issues of peace and stability still appropriate for discussion at the time when people continue to be infected or dying of Covid-19.” According to Deputy Foreign Minister Dung, the 37th ASEAN Summit went smoothly, adding a brand name to ASEAN.
These are the challenges posed for Vietnam in 2020, but Vietnam has persuaded other countries with specific actions. From the first meetings, the first developments, Vietnam has proven that everything is possible, including difficult issues such as signing or matters that require direct transactions or making agreements between countries.
Talking about the negotiation process of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), Mr. Dung said that the determination of ASEAN countries and China is very strong. “All want to soon have a code of conduct to then regulate and ensure regulations to govern the behavior of countries in the East Sea, a very important region,” he said.
However, negotiation is primarily influenced by the Covid-19 epidemic. Besides, the parties want the negotiation to be done through face-to-face meetings. “So far, there has been no substantive negotiation on the COC, so it is difficult to say when this document can be finalized. We all want to accelerate this process, but we depend on goodwill as well as stance of the parties,” Mr. Dung said, explaining the reasons for the slowdown of this process.
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