Ha Noi, 7 August 2010
We gather here today to solemnly celebrate the 43rd Anniversary of ASEAN. The date of 8th August has become an important annual event for the Association and its Members to celebrate and review new achievements in the unceasing development of ASEAN. The event this year takes on greater significance to Viet Nam as it coincides with the 15th anniversary of Viet Nam’s membership in ASEAN and the assuming of the ASEAN Chairmanship by Viet Nam.
We are pleased with the maturity and strong development of the Association, and are confident in its bright future. After all twists and turns, ASEAN has become a dynamic and cohesive regional organization, embracing all 10 countries in the Southeast Asia, with an enhanced role in maintaining peace, stability, mutual understanding and trust. The fruits of ASEAN cooperation, both internally and with its partners, have laid a firm foundation for the broader and stronger regional integration in the next stage and for an enhanced international profile and position of ASEAN. All these prove the strong vitality and permanent relevance of ASEAN.
We take this opportunity to take stock of ASEAN’s development in the last four decades, particularly the role of ASEAN in the region, and chart out a new course of its evolution in the coming years.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Reality in the past four decades has testified to enormous achievements and values of ASEAN in the region and the world.
Firstly, ASEAN has been the leading factor in ensuring the environment of peace, security and cooperation for development in the region. This role has been vividly reflected by its efforts to promote political-security cooperation and shape codes of conduct, hence enhancing mutual understanding and trust and preventing conflicts among countries in the region. The realization of an ASEAN comprising all 10 Southeast Asian countries and the vision of the ASEAN Community have helped its members overcome all historical barriers and differences to live under a common roof, fostering a genuinely new pattern of relationship based on friendship, mutual understanding and trust, comprehensive cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels in the shared interests of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
ASEAN has also forged multi-faceted partnership with major global players. It has successfully initiated and played the role as the driving force in regional frameworks, most notably the ARF – the unique mechanism in Asia-Pacific for dialogue and cooperation on political and security issues. These ASEAN-led mechanisms have facilitated the constructive engagement of partners outside Southeast Asia in addressing common security challenges and making contributions to peace and security in the region.
Moreover, ASEAN has actively promoted the shaping and sharing of codes of conduct among countries in the region. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia has become a code of conduct governing relations not only among ASEAN Member States but also ASEAN’s relations with its partners. The Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty reflected ASEAN’s commitments to the ban on the use, development, production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, and also its efforts to encourage nuclear weapon states to accede to the Treaty with a view to bringing its effectiveness into full play. The Declaration of the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed between ASEAN and China has embodied both parties’ commitment in maintaining peace and security in the South China Sea, respecting the principles of self-restraint, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-use of force or threat to use force, and moving towards a regional Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC). The ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism and its joint statements with various partners have shown ASEAN’s responsible efforts and active role in dealing with terrorist threats.
Secondly, ASEAN has been the main engine for promoting cooperation and integration in East Asia, especially on the economic field. It is obvious that ASEAN has played a crucial role in the regional integration and community building in Southeast Asia. ASEAN also initiated and played a leading role in developing relevant frameworks for promoting East Asian cooperation through various mechanisms from ASEAN+1 to ASEAN+3 and the East Asia Summit (EAS), etc. In addition, ASEAN was the important force in the establishment and development of several inter-regional cooperation mechanisms such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia – Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the Forum for East Asia – Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC).
ASEAN has long realized the importance of regional economic integration and has acted upon it. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) was kicked start in 1992 with success. Now ASEAN is moving toward the goal of a single market and unified production base through the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. Bearing in mind the significance of a sound and sustainable regional infrastructure to the success of regional economic integration, ASEAN has actively been developing a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity which aims to connect transport, communication, and IT as well as to promote institutional and people connectivity within ASEAN. This will provide the foundation for wider-regional connectivity in East Asia with ASEAN as the hub.
ASEAN has also led the process of fostering a network of FTA+1 with important partners in the region including China, Japan, Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The Association is an active initiator of various economic and trade cooperation programs with major players, such as the U.S., Canada, the EU and Russia. ASEAN has been conducting a feasibility study for the establishment of a free trade area in East Asia, which once implemented, will become the largest free trade area over two billion people and a GDP of ten trillion dollars. ASEAN has been active in the implementation of various initiatives in the area of finance and banking, notably the Agreement on the Multilaterization of the Chiang Mai Initiative and the establishment of the Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility within the ASEAN+3 framework.
Thirdly, with its important geo-political location in the region, its outward looking policy and its substantial contributions, ASEAN has become an indispensable partner of major countries and players in the world. All partners attach importance to their relations and strengthen comprehensive cooperation with ASEAN both at bilateral and multilateral levels. They support ASEAN to build its Community and play a key role in the region. They always look to ASEAN as a reliable partner, and a factor that can accommodate and harmonize various interests for the common goal of peace, stability, development and prosperity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To date, ASEAN’s role has been widely recognized, but we can not take it for granted in the future. ASEAN has been moving toward the goal of establishing a Community encompassing three pillars of political-security, economic and social-culture cooperation. This undertaking takes place amidst a changing regional and international landscape with intertwined opportunities and challenges, thus requiring the Association to make greater efforts for ensuring its centrality in an evolving regional architecture.
the 16th ASEAN Summit in Ha Noi in April 2010, the ASEAN Leaders have agreed on the two-pronged approach, giving priority to the acceleration of building the ASEAN Community, while promoting the Association’s external relations on the basis of ensuring the ASEAN’s centrality. To bring into full play its role in the region, ASEAN must enhance its unity and cohesion, accelerate regional integration, harmonize national interests with that of the region and gradually raise the quality of ASEAN’s “unity in diversity”.
We should continue to facilitate ASEAN partners’ deeper engagement and constructive contributions in addressing issues related to regional peace, security and development on the basis of supporting the establishment of the ASEAN Community and ASEAN’s centrality. ASEAN should build on its advantage as hub for accommodating and harmonizing various interests in the region as well as connecting existing cooperation mechanisms and frameworks. To this end, ASEAN needs to improve the effectiveness and quality of cooperation with its partners within ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). We must ensure that the expansion of the EAS to include the U.S. and Russia and the ASEAN Defense Minister’s Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus) will contribute to the goal of peace, security and development in East Asia in accordance with the established objectives and principles. We must work hard to ensure that any new regional mechanism is complementary to and built on existing ones with ASEAN as the driving force.
Regarding political-security cooperation, we should continue efforts to promote regional peace and security, and properly handle potential threats that may cause instability. ASEAN must build on its role as a crucial force for promoting dialogue and cooperation on political-security issues in the interest of peace, security and prosperity in the region. We need to effectively implement the Blueprint for the ASEAN Political – Security Community, particularly in the 14 priority areas. It is also important to make full use of the existing instruments and mechanisms to maintaining regional peace and security, especially such Treaties and Agreements as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (SEANWFZ) and the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).
As for economic integration, it is incumbent upon us to effectively implement agreed commitments. ASEAN Member States should make stronger commitments and greater efforts to liberalize and open their markets, remove barriers that hinder regional economic cooperation, especially protectionism. ASEAN should continue efforts in accelerating the implementation of agreements relating to the ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN Connectivity as well as Free Trade Area (FTA) agreements with other partners. ASEAN needs to pursue policy of sustainable and balanced development, which ensures economic growth, social development and clean environment.
Regarding socio-cultural cooperation, we need to strive for the realization of the Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint with a view to serving the people and improving their quality of life. ASEAN also needs to demonstrate itself as a responsible member of the international community in addressing global challenges, especially the current financial economic crisis, climate change, natural calamities, and pandemics.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
15 years ago, on 28 July 1995, Viet Nam became a full-fledged member of ASEAN. During those 15 years of working together in ASEAN, Viet Nam has made important contributions to ASEAN’s evolution and maturity. An ASEAN of close integration, cohesion and unity with an important standing in the international community is in the fundamental and long-term interests of Viet Nam. ASEAN membership has brought important and practical interests for Viet Nam, supporting our efforts for national security and development. As an active, proactive and responsible member of the ASEAN family, Viet Nam will make every effort to contribute to the successful building of the ASEAN Community by 2015, and for this year is to fulfill the responsibility of the ASEAN Chairmanship under the theme “Towards an ASEAN Community: from vision to action”. Viet Nam, together with other ASEAN member countries and partners, will strive for a united and prosperous ASEAN Community; further promote integration, peace, stability and development in Southeast Asia and East Asia.
On the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN, and the 15th anniversary of Viet Nam joining ASEAN, on behalf of the Government and people of Viet Nam, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude and best wishes to the Governments and people of ASEAN countries as well as to ASEAN external partners.
May ASEAN be of greater unity and stronger development.