Distinguished ASEAN Foreign Ministers,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government and people of Viet Nam, I would like to welcome all of you to the 43rd ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting and Related Meetings. This is one of the most important events in ASEAN annual calendar and more so in Viet Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship this year.

This Meeting takes place when ASEAN has entered into a new stage of development, moving towards the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015 and operating on legal basis of the ASEAN Charter. ASEAN is making every effort and mobilising all resources to realise the objectives set in the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community and other important plans. The Association is also striving to strengthen its external relations and deepen cooperation with its partners with a view to facilitating the realisation of the ASEAN Community and effectively responding to global challenges while maintaining the Association’s central role in addressing regional issues.

The achievements recorded to date are enormous and of great significance. In particular, the outcomes of the successful 16th ASEAN Summit has provided an important guidance and strong impetus for accelerating the ASEAN integration process while strengthening external relations and ensuring the ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture. We are all fully aware, however, that much remains to be done in order to realise the goal of the ASEAN Community, a community that is politically harmonious, economically integrated and socially responsible.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The ASEAN Foreign Ministers have a crucial role to play in ASEAN operation, especially in addressing issues relating to political-security cooperation and external relations. On this occasion, I would like to share with you some issues that require more of your attention.

First, realising the goal of the ASEAN Community is the top priority for ASEAN now and in the years to come. We should set forth and carry out measures to speed up the implementation of the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community and other important programmes, including the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity that is now being developed. We should continue with our efforts in translating the ASEAN Charter into reality, especially completing related legal documents, improving and enhancing the effectiveness of ASEAN organisational structure and operational methods. Equally important is the need to uphold the “culture of compliance” to ensure the effective realisation of agreements through comprehensive and coordinated measures, notably enhancing the monitoring and supervision activities, collaboration and coordination among agencies, especially the Ministerial-level Community Councils which have a crucial role to play.

Second, maintaining peace and security in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific is the earnest desire and strong determination of all ASEAN Members States as well as other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN should further demonstrate its ability and role as a leading force for the promotion of dialogue and cooperation on the political and security issues for the sake of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

We should focus on the effective implementation of the Blueprint on the ASEAN Political and Security Community, particularly in the 14 priority areas. In this connection, ASEAN should bring into full play and promote the effective functioning of existing instruments and mechanisms to ensure regional peace and security such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

We should also continue to promote and facilitate the deeper engagement in and more constructive contributions of ASEAN partners to addressing issues related to regional peace and security. Special attention also should be paid to carrying out measures aimed at promoting mutual understanding and trust, shaping and sharing common norms and codes of conduct governing relations among nations, strengthening cooperation in dealing with non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, transnational crime, natural disaster, climate change, maritime safety and security etc.

The decision of ASEAN Leaders on the convening of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting with 8 dialogue partners constitutes a new important development. We look forward to the first Meeting of the ADMM Plus scheduled to be held in October 2010 in Viet Nam, which would enhance dialogue and cooperation in defence and security issues between ASEAN and its partners, thus positively actively contributing to the efforts in building the ASEAN Political and Security Community and to the peace and stability in the region.

Third, in the course of building the ASEAN Community, it is always our consistent policy to promote ASEAN’s external relations. We should continue improving the quality and effectiveness of cooperation with partners through the ASEAN+1 frameworks based on concrete strategies and plans of action. We should also be more proactive in recommending and undertaking measures to enhance the operational efficiency of ASEAN-led wider regional cooperation frameworks such as ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). The guiding principle throughout this process is to support the goal of building the ASEAN Community and ensuring the central role of the Association.

At the 16th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Leaders agreed upon a number of important directions, notably on enhancing partnership with important partners and ensuring the ASEAN’s centrality in an evolving regional architecture. Foreign Ministers have been tasked to undertake appropriate measures and modalities to implement the Leaders’ decisions, and make necessary recommendations to the 17th ASEAN Summit.

Fourth, ASEAN should present itself as a responsible member of the international community in responding to current global challenges, especially the financial and economic crisis; climate change, including sea-level rise; natural disaster, pandemics; and depletion of natural resources. In this connection, ASEAN should undertake concrete measures to enhance intra-regional cooperation, at the same time, to foster cooperation within wider region frameworks and actively contribute to the joint efforts of the international community. I hope that Foreign Ministers will intensify discussions and effective cooperation with sectoral ministers and relevant partners in addressing these challenges.

Fifth, strengthening the solidarity and unity, upholding traditional values and respecting fundamental principles of the Association continue to serve as the factors of utmost importance which ensure the success of ASEAN in the new era. We are building the ASEAN Community in the context of both advantages and disadvantages, successes and shortcomings of the ASEAN itself, and both opportunities and challenges which were resulted from the rapid and complex developments in the region and the world. This requires us to further promote the all above-said important factors, respect and take into due consideration of the fundamental interests of each Member States, thus further enhancing the quality and effectiveness of the ASEAN’s “unity in diversity”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Meeting coincides with the celebration of the 15th anniversary of Viet Nam’s accession to ASEAN. Throughout our journey with ASEAN, Viet Nam has rapidly integrated into and positively contributed to the development of the Association. We are very happy and proud that Viet Nam has joined hands with other ASEAN Members in laying important and firm foundations for the realisation for the ASEAN Community by 2015.

Being an integral part of the ASEAN family, it is Viet Nam’s consistent policy to participate in ASEAN cooperation in a “proactive, positive and responsible” manner, thus contributing to building a strong and closely integrated ASEAN serving as the core of an evolving regional architecture.

During our ASEAN Chairmanship in 2010, we have been doing our utmost to working closely with other Members States for tangible achievements in the ASEAN Community building process.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I believe that at this Meeting, the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and their partners will have fruitful and constructive discussions, work out appropriate solutions and measures to intensify cooperation in various fields, especially in addressing political and security issues and coping with the emerging challenges in the region and the world.

I wish the meeting success.

Thank you very much for your attention.