Top Vietnamese leader affirms maintaining peaceful, stable, cohesive and united ASEAN region

The 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits officially opened in the form of video conference on November 12. Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong delivered his welcome remarks at the opening ceremony of the event.
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Party General Secretary and State President Nguyen Phu Trong (Photo: VGP)

The following is the full text of the remarks.

“Excellencies, leaders of ASEAN and partners,

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to address the Opening Ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related Summits - the most important series of ASEAN meetings in the year.

At every ASEAN event that I attend, I always leave with memories of the warmth, solidarity and close-knit brotherhood of our big family. This year, such familial bonds have only become stronger as ASEAN members stand hand-in-hand, cohesive and responsive, to cope with the challenges facing Southeast Asia and the world at large.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken over a million of lives, upended our daily life, and threatened to reverse the social and economic progress accrued over decades. The year 2020 is coming to a close as complex and far-reaching changes are sweeping the world. More than ever, all countries need peace and stability for cooperation and development; and the people require attention, assistance and protection in overcoming this period of hardship. This will only be possible if conflicts and friction over interests and differences in thinking and approaches are settled with trust, constructive purpose and goodwill from all parties concerned.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Against the multi-colored backdrop of the world today, one may note brighter shades – cooperation in response to challenges – in the Asia-Pacific; and ASEAN is at the front and center of this process.

In 2020, ASEAN member states have manifested resolve and resilience in the face of myriad difficulties and challenges. From political commitments at the highest level to the well-coordinated actions of the entire Community and between member states, we have witnessed the Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN embodied in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Such spirit is equally visible in our efforts to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. Our governments' capable response to COVID-19 has garnered high level of public trust.

While certain multilateral institutions are beset by difficulties and challenges, ASEAN has managed to maintain its functions and uphold its role and visibility this year. Its partners continued to hold ASEAN in high regard, and pledged to support its centrality. Dialogue, cooperation and integration continued to prove their relevance in the current regional and international landscape.

That being said, the road ahead is no bed of rose. The losses in lives and property of millions in the region from natural disasters and diseases are catastrophic. The people of ASEAN expect their leaders to adopt more effective and vigorous means of cooperation in curbing new waves of infection. They expect us to find ways to sustain business operation, and join them in revitalizing the economies. They expect us to assist them to return to normal life and guarantee social security for each and every individual and locality.

It falls upon us to identify an optimal position for ASEAN in the post-COVID-19 world. The strong will and aspiration to uphold a region of peace, stability, cohesion, unity and the rule of law should be further affirmed as a core value of Southeast Asia and the ASEAN Community.

In the new context, ASEAN member states need to showcase their resilience and work together in realizing recovery plans and initiatives via new, substantive and effective ways of operation and collaboration. The ASEAN-led frameworks for regional dialogue and cooperation should be fully harnessed. ASEAN can make even greater contributions to promoting multilateralism, upholding international law, and strengthening the global multilateral system with the United Nations at its core.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is Vietnam’s consistent policy to engage in diversification and multilateralization of its external relations, to be a reliable friend and partner, and an active and responsible member of the international community, striving for peace, cooperation and development. Guided by that policy line, Vietnam has gone from strength to strength over the past 75 years. Such spirit shall further be the guiding compass for our foreign policy, all the more so as the global landscape is evolving in such complex and unpredictable manner.

Vietnam’s ASEAN membership over the past 25 years has served as the cornerstone for its international integration and conducting of foreign affairs. ASEAN has become a common home, and the ASEAN Community is critical to upholding the Southeast Asian identity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As the 2020 Chair, Vietnam has been promoting a “cohesive and responsive” ASEAN. We always value the solidarity, support and assistance of fellow member states, partners and friends of ASEAN. This, by itself, reflects the spirit of the ASEAN Community in seeking to triumph over all adversities, maintain the momentum of integration, grow strong and reinforce ASEAN centrality, for a Southeast Asia of peace, friendship, cooperation, neutrality and stability.

Our President Ho Chi Minh once said: “Unity makes strength”. Only through cooperation, trust, synergy and one-mindedness, can ASEAN and the world overcome hardships to revitalize growth and maintain peace, stability and sustainable development.

I am fully confident in the solidarity and collective strength of the ASEAN Community. May the 37th ASEAN Summit and related Summits be crowned with success and guide ASEAN to greater heights, as aspired by our citizens.

Thank you for your attention”.

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