Ha Noi, 8 April 2010

Your Majesty,

Esteemed ASEAN Colleagues,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, on behalf of the Government and people of Viet Nam, I have the great pleasure to welcome you all to the 16th ASEAN Summit, the first summit under Viet Nam’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2010. Our meeting takes place at a time when Viet Nam is celebrating the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Ha Noi. This event will definitely multiply the pride of Ha Noi, our Capital, City of Peace. I hope that my esteemed colleagues and all distinguished guests would join the Vietnamese people in this joyful celebration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

After more than four decades of existence and development, ASEAN today has become a closely-integrated political and economic entity, an important player in the region and an indispensable partner of major countries and organisations in the world. The Association has entered a new stage of development, steadily moving towards the realisation of the ASEAN Community by 2015 and operating on a legal foundation as provided for by the ASEAN Charter.

Despite the strong impacts of complex developments in the region and the world, in 2009 ASEAN Member States continued to maintain their unity and close cooperation, expeditiously implemented the ASEAN Charter and the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community, and thus far recorded significant achievements. Relations between ASEAN and our partners have been enhanced with greater substance and efficiency, and ASEAN’s role as a driving force in regional cooperation frameworks further strengthened.

The year 2010 is of great significance to ASEAN as it offers intertwining opportunities and challenges. While we are optimistic about the recovery of the regional and global economies, particularly the encouraging recovery of the ASEAN economies, a full recovery and sustainable development would require more time and unceasing efforts, especially appropriate directions and sound solutions. At the same time, global challenges, particularly climate change, natural disasters and pandemics continue to exert increasingly adverse impacts on ASEAN, calling for our stronger efforts and effective response at national, regional and international levels. The fast-changing and complicated situation in the world, especially the adjustment of policies and relations amongst the major powers, certainly have implications for the regional environment. Yet, they also present new opportunities for ASEAN to promote its important role in ensuring peace, security, cooperation and development in the region. Against such a background, I believe ASEAN must not only strengthen its unity and cooperation, but also overcome its own limitations, so as to realise the goal of building an ASEAN Community and maintaining the Association’s centrality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The goal and roadmap towards the ASEAN Community have been clearly defined. And we now have just 5 years to go. Therefore, the most important thing for us now is to join hands in action, undertake concrete steps and measures to accomplish the set goals and plans. The overall theme for the year 2010 – ‘Towards the ASEAN Community: from Vision to Action’ – underlines ASEAN’s focus and strong sense of action for this year and beyond.

This 16th ASEAN Summit, thus, carries an important mandate of setting forth the directions and appropriate solutions to accelerate ASEAN integration and enhance its strength in effectively addressing regional issues as well as global challenges. Accordingly, I would propose that we give attention to the following:

First, while important progress has been made in the implementation of the ASEAN Charter and Roadmap for ASEAN Community, much remains to be done. It is now imperative to make stronger efforts to really bring the ASEAN Charter into life, especially with the finalisation of the related legal documents, improve and enhance the efficiency of ASEAN’s new organisational structure and working method. At the same time, we should provide necessary guidance on the concrete ways and means to accelerate the effective implementation of our agreements on ASEAN Community building, wherein it would be important to promote the ‘culture of compliance’, strengthen coordination of implementing agencies and the mobilisation of resources.

Second, economic recovery and sustainable development are among the top priorities of ASEAN as well as the international community. Due to the connectivity and interdependency of economies, ASEAN should simultaneously act on the following 3 directions: (i) accelerate ASEAN economic integration and work out a suitable model for sustainable economic development; (ii) enhance East Asian economic and financial cooperation, wherein ASEAN plays a central role; and (iii) actively contribute to the common efforts of the international community through the promotion of global solutions.

With regards to intra-ASEAN integration, we should give guidance on the strict adherence to and full implementation of the existing agreements, including those on narrowing development gap, while at the same time set the direction for the development of a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity to foster closer linkages on infrastructure, transport and information technology, especially in the Mekong Sub-region. In addition to efforts towards an early and strong recovery, ASEAN should also identify a suitable model to ensure a balanced and sustained development, incorporating economic growth with social development and environmental protection. In this spirit, I propose we consider and adopt a joint statement on recovery and sustained development, to show ASEAN’s commitment and plan of action.

Third, trans-national issues such as climate change, environmental degradation, natural disasters and pandemics now pose a permanent and direct threat to the livelihood of our people as well as sustainable development of each country. While effective global solutions are yet to be found within the existing international frameworks and mechanisms, ASEAN should make greater efforts at both national and regional levels to respond to these challenges, and contribute actively to the common endeavour of the international community. With that in mind, we shall consider and adopt a statement on our joint response to climate change, underlining ASEAN’s resolve to intensify cooperation and sending out ASEAN’s strong message on the international negotiation process for an effective climate change regime.

Fourth, ASEAN Member States share a strong desire and determination to promote peace, security and cooperation for mutual development. This is indeed the very source of ASEAN’s strength and outstanding achievements over the past four decades. ASEAN should continue to build upon these achievements and maintain an important role in promoting dialogue and cooperation for the sake of peace and stability in Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific at large.

In particular, efforts should be renewed to facilitate dialogue and intensify cooperation on political and security issues; enhance mutual understanding and trust; accelerate the formulation of norms and codes of conduct governing relations amongst countries; maximise the effectiveness and ensure full compliance with existing instruments and mechanisms designed to promote peace and security in the region such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)…; and step up cooperation within ASEAN as well as between ASEAN and its partners in addressing non-traditional security challenges, such as terrorism, trans-national crime, maritime safety and security, among others.

Fifth, in addition to advancing intra-ASEAN integration, the Association should further consolidate external relations, to mobilise support for ASEAN Community building and enhance its international role and position. Accordingly, it is necessary to strengthen ASEAN+1 cooperation, through enhanced dialogues at all levels, especially at the Leaders’ and Ministers’ levels, and with added substance and efficiency in the implementation of Plans of Action and Joint Statements on comprehensive partnership. We should also promote cooperation through ASEAN-driven frameworks such as ASEAN+3, East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). At the same time, we should also take proactive measures to ensure ASEAN’s central role in an evolving regional architecture.

The goal of an ASEAN Community manifests in itself the Member States’ shared vision, earnest desire and strong determination. This goal is firmly premised upon the significant achievements in ASEAN cooperation over more than four decades. The problems that ASEAN is to address are neither new nor confined to the year 2010 alone. What is important now is our resolute and strong actions, harmoniously combining national interests with the common ones of the entire region, thus improving the quality of our ‘unity in diversity.’ Reality shows that ASEAN is truly a regional organisation with vitality and adaptability to the changes of the time. Undoubtedly, ASEAN’s vision, determination, resilience, success and time-honoured values all serve as the foundation of our conviction that ASEAN shall make further accomplishments in the process of community building.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Viet Nam’s Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2010 coincides with the 15th anniversary of its ASEAN membership. All these years have seen Viet Nam’s impressive national development, rapid regional integration and important contributions to the unceasing growth of the Association.

Given the strategic importance of ASEAN to Viet Nam, we are fully aware that Viet Nam is an inseparable part of the ASEAN family and continues to participate in ASEAN cooperation in a proactive and responsible manner to contribute to building a stronger and more closely integrated ASEAN. During our Chairmanship in 2010, we will do our utmost and collaborate with other members to achieve concrete results in building the ASEAN Community and properly addressing emerging issues.

Another honour for Viet Nam in this 2010 is that the Vietnamese National Assembly also assumes the Presidency of the 31st ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA-31). This is indeed a double responsibility as well as opportunity for Viet Nam to join other ASEAN members to strengthen the relationship between the executive and legislative branches in ASEAN, thus bringing into full play the role and contribution of the member parliaments and AIPA as a whole to the process of ASEAN Community building.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I look forwards to in-depth, substantive and fruitful discussions with all my ASEAN colleagues on the directions and concrete measures to achieve the priorities of 2010. I am fully confident that with our vision and strong political will, our meeting will be crowned with fine success.

It is now my great honour to declare the 16th ASEAN Summit open.

Thank you very much.