Excellencies, ASEAN Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a great pleasure for me to visit again the Capital City of Bangkok which is now in full swing of development, in order to participate in the Fifth ASEAN Summit, an event of great importance for our entire region.
I am deeply moved at and sincerely grateful for the warm congratulations Your Majesty and Your Excellencies addressed to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam upon becoming a full member in ASEAN. Vietnam will do its best to contribute to further consolidating and developing ASEAN for the sake of cooperation, friendship and prosperity in the community of ASEAN Member States, for ASEAN’s lofty responsibility, that is, to contribute to the cause of peace, stability and development in Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.
May I, on this occasion, have the honour and privilege to convey to His Majesty, the King of Thailand, the warmest greetings and best wishes from the State Leaders of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The Government and people of Vietnam wish that the Government and people of Thailand enjoy happiness, national development and prosperity.
With the prospect that ASEAN will encompass all 10 countries before it enters into the 21st century, the current Fifth ASEAN Summit will mark a new turning point in ASEAN’s history. I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to you, Your Excellency, Mr. Banharn Silpa-Archa, Prime Minister of the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand upon your election as Chairman of the Fifth ASEAN Summit. I am strongly confident that under your guidance, our meeting will be crowned with great success.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The great and profound changes undergoing in the world have today placed each and every State as well as regional communities before hard challenges and at the same time offered them with tremendous opportunities.
The arrangements in Near East and Bosnia, though difficult, have brought about peaceful solutions, but their implementation will require greater efforts and goodwill; in the mean time, conflicts are still going on in many areas. In parallel with the trends towards globalization and regionalization in the economic area, harsh competition is still hindering cooperation. The trend towards national resilience is facing attempts for direct or indirect control, imposition from outside. Nonetheless, in any case, the will of peoples striving for long-lasting peace, equal cooperation, development and prosperity has now been turned into an irresistible trend.
Southeast Asia where, for the last half century or so, a number of brutal wars took place, is now witnessing a completely new state of relations.
Gone are the dark days for the Southeast Asian region. However, the people in the region will never forget that wars and conflicts not only took a lot of human lives, caused untold destruction but also pushed many countries in the region to the state of confrontation, hostility, thereby putting a brake to the development of all regional countries.
Today, in addition to these invaluable experiences is the pressing need for development in all Southeast Asian nations. More than ever, preserving an environment of peace and stability for the whole region and fostering an effective cooperation among the Member States of the Association constitutes an important factor for the future of each and every State in our Association.
It is true that never before is ASEAN facing such a promising opportunity as at present. At the same time, one should look at the diversity in terms of history, culture and unequal levels of economic development, which presents itself as no small challenges to ASEAN on its path of development. The commitment of the Association and the talents of the ASEAN Leaders in realising the shared objectives will be important factors determining the Association’s future. I am of the view that the respect for one another’s independence and sovereignty so as to maintain “unity in diversity” in the Association with joined effort is in fact the principle to create a driving force for the attainment of ASEAN’s objectives and targets. The new developments in the intra-ASEAN relations, the establishment of AFTA, the prospect that ASEAN will encompass all ten countries in Southeast Asia, the growing role of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in the international arena, etc., are testifying to the vitality of the above-said principle. It is for this reason I am confident that the Fifth ASEAN Summit will mark a new development for the Association.
Keeping pace with other States in the region, Vietnam is now also endeavoring to develop its economy after a number of decades of destructive wars. Thanks to the implementation of the Doi Moi (Renovation) line, our country has registered an average GDP growth rate of 8.29% per annum, checking the galloping inflation, broadening its external relations to the whole of the world, improving a step further the material and spiritual life of various walks of life of our people. At present, Vietnam has sufficient condition to enter into a new stage of development, that of industrialisation, modernisation aimed at achieving the target of the people prosperous, the country economically strong, the society just and civilised. This process at the same time represents a contribution by Vietnam to the enhancement of the cooperation between Vietnam and other Member States.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Within the framework of the ASEAN cooperation, the economic and trade relations are of primary importance to the resilience of each State and that of the entire Association. In a not distant future, there will appear within ASEAN, a large market with an over 400-million-strong population, bestowed with diversified natural resources and with a favourable geo-economic position. The Economic Agreements to be signed here on this occasion will provide a new driving force to the economic cooperation among the Member States. Vietnam is now pushing ahead its Renovation cause in order to actively participate in the development of ever closer economic relations among the ASEAN Member Countries and in the promotion of economic interactions between ASEAN and all its partners in the world.
The ASEAN Member States share the concept of attaching great importance to combining economic development with cultural – social development on the basis of bringing into full play the identity of each people. The cooperation in these areas among the countries in the Association will help enhance the mutual understanding and promote the ASEAN spirit among the people of our seven countries.
ASEAN is winning a greater recognition and encouragement from the world community to its efforts to build a new bridge between Southeast Asia and the entire Asia-Pacific region and between Asia and the European Union. Hopefully, these linkages will promote regional, inter-regional interactions at the service of ASEAN’s development needs. This also constitutes the way that ASEAN will assert itself amidst a highly dynamic and changing world. Unity, solidarity and effective cooperation among the ASEAN Member Countries have now been an indispensable requirement.
Tomorrow, 15 December 1995, we will sign the Treaty on Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone. This represents our shared commitment and the fruit of our will to defend peace, to struggle against the menace of nuclear extermination, against the use of or the threat to use force. I firmly believe that the Treaty will further help strengthen the security in Southeast Asia and at the same time further encourage the trend towards settling disputes on the East Sea (South China Sea) through peaceful negotiations on the basis of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in line with the spirit of the 1992 Manila Declaration.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The emerging situation poses additional needs for the mechanisms and mode of operation of the Association. We should uphold the fundamental principles that have been tested in practice and at the same time we should exert greater efforts to respond to new and diversified needs as a result of the regional dynamism and the constantly changing world. Vietnam will actively contribute to this process.
We have every reason to believe that the Bangkok Summit Declaration will be turned into a vivid reality in Southeast Asia and it will be welcomed by the world public opinion at large.
Thank you for your attention.