Last update: 12:45 | 20/03/2019
VietNamNet Bridge – Whichever country holds the ASEAN chairmanship must take the lead in consolidating the bloc’s identity and enhancing its adaptability in a changing world, said Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Van Thao yesterday.
Participants agreed that in the context of unstable world affairs, ASEAN should concentrate on fostering internal power by taking advantage of the more than 600-million-population and fostering intra-bloc liberalisation. —VNA/VNS Photo Van Diep
“Taking the role of ASEAN 2020 Chairman demonstrates Vietnam’s responsibility and is an opportunity for the country to make contributions to the ASEAN Community,” Thao said at workshop on the ASEAN community, which Vietnam is set to chair next year. “Vietnam attaches great importance to making careful preparation for the chairmanship.”
The workshop, held by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), drew the participation of more than 100 experts and diplomats from Vietnam and ASEAN member states to discuss the ASEAN Community’s identity and role in the changing world.
Thao said that over the more than 50 years since its creation, ASEAN had demonstrated its important role for each member state, Southeast Asia as a whole and the Indo-Asia Pacific region
ASEAN’s identity had been shaped to realise the primary target of building a people-centred, united community as stated in ASEAN Community Vision towards 2025, Thao said, adding that the organisation’s identity acted as a “glue” connecting the peoples of its member states. ASEAN’s central role was to maintain regional peace and stability and assure member states have a powerful voice in global issues to protect their own interests.
“The identity and centrality have become two key elements that will determine ASEAN’s vitality and growth prospects in the future,” he said. “Preserving ASEAN identity and fostering its central role requires active engagement of all member states at both inter-Governmental and national levels.”
Marty Natalegawa, former Indonesian Foreign Affair Minister told the workshop there were two critical, challenging areas ASEAN must deal with. They were the nexus between internal and external domains – the national and regional – and the nexus between the regional and global domains.
ASEAN’s relevance in managing the internal and external nexus could not be ensured simply by the adoption of formal declarations and agreements. It required the development of a co-operative outlook between member states that could only be accomplished through deliberate development of state practice, he said.
Participants agreed that in the context of unstable world affairs, ASEAN should concentrate on fostering internal power by taking advantage of the more than 600-million-population and fostering intra-bloc liberalisation. It could do this by shifting growth models and reducing reliance on the young labour force and depleting natural resources, former deputy prime minister Vu Khoan said.
To ensure ASEAN’s goal of creating a caring community that puts people at the centre, Peter Girke, country representative of KAS in Vietnam, said: “We must involve people more, listen better and keep in mind that the purpose of politics is for people. Only this can assure long-term success for a regional bloc like the EU and the same is true for ASEAN.”
Vietnam had built a strong community at home, but it was also an active player in regional and global affairs. The country was open to learning from past experiences and international best practices, he said. These experiences would benefit ASEAN when Vietnam takes the chairmanship.