Stronger Cooperation Within ASEAN Needed to Tackle Emerging Complex Challenges
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (AMMR) took place both in person and via videoconference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Feb. 17 to discuss issues such as Covid-19, economic recovery and relations with dialogue partners.
|An overview of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Retreat (AMMR) in Phnom Penh on February 17. Photo: VOV|
The event, chaired by Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, saw the in-person participation of foreign ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Laos.
Foreign ministers of Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam attended the AMMR online. Myanmar did not designate a representative for the event, VNA reported.
This is the first in-person ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting after a hiatus of more than a year caused by the pandemic.
Addressing the AMMR, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son has called for solidarity, unity, dialogue, and cooperation to be enhanced to serve as the basis for a strong and resilient ASEAN Community.
Son asked ASEAN to press on with implementing Covid-19 response initiatives such as the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework and the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework.
He also proposed mutual recognition of “vaccine passports” in the region so as to resume travel soon and facilitate comprehensive recovery, adding that attention should be paid to capacity building and technology transfer in order to stay ready to cope with new emergencies similar to the pandemic.
|Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son. Photo: VNA|
With regard to the building of the Post-2025 ASEAN Community Vision, he urged that the bloc early consolidate the high-level task force and make thorough preparations so that the ASEAN Community can adapt to and effectively respond to emerging complex challenges amid the fast-changing geo-political situation in the region and the world.
He recommended reinforcing solidarity, unity, dialogue, and cooperation to serve as the basis for a strong and resilient Community; upholding the bloc’s centrality; improving the effectiveness of ASEAN-led mechanisms; and keeping balance in its relations with partners, thereby contributing to regional and global peace, cooperation, and development.
Son also called for continued cooperation to narrow the development gap in the region and boost sustainable development and inclusive growth in sub-regions of ASEAN.
Sharing other countries’ concern about the complicated developments and unexpected incidents in the East Sea, the Vietnamese official stressed the importance of ensuring peace, security, and safety of navigation and overflight in the waters; complying with international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), so as to maintain the East Sea as a sea of peace, stability, and cooperation; continuing to fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC); and soon achieving a substantive and effective Code of Conduct (COC) that matches international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
He also welcomed the proposal to celebrate the DOC’s 20th anniversary and the UNCLOS’s 40th anniversary in 2022.
Regarding the Myanmar issue, Minister Son affirmed Vietnam's readiness to join hands with other countries to assist Myanmar to overcome these trying times, voicing support for the continued effective implementation of the Five-Point Consensus.
He also proposed stronger cooperation within ASEAN and between the bloc and partners to deal with emerging non-traditional security challenges, including those related to cyber security, maritime security, water resource security, climate change, and environmental pollution, as well as new challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
|Foreign Ministers and leaders of the ASEAN Secretariat pose for a group photo. Photo: VNA|
During the AMMR, participants highly valued the ASEAN theme for 2022, “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together”, expressing their support for the priorities and initiatives suggested by Cambodia. They pledged close cooperation with the Chair of the bloc to carry out the initiatives.
They agreed on the need to sustain solidarity and unity in ASEAN; expand and intensify the bloc’s external relations; strengthen its centrality in an open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture; promote multilateralism; improve ASEAN-chaired and -led mechanisms; and effectively help promote peace, stability, sustainable development, and prosperity in the region.
The ministers also discussed some international and regional issues of common concern, including the East Sea and Myanmar issues.
Speaking at a press briefing after the AMMR, Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Shokhonn said that as the ASEAN Chair in 2022, Cambodia will continue to contact the Myanmar military government to maintain trust and confidence at present.
He revealed his plan to visit Myanmar in March as the ASEAN’s Special Envoy.
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