ASEAN Community looks to coming years

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) jointly opened a seminar on orientations for building the ASEAN Community beyond 2015 in Ha Noi yesterday, Dec 3.

Attending the event are ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh and UNDP Country Director in Viet Nam Louise Chamberlain, among others.

In his opening remarks, Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh reviewed the operations of ASEAN over the past 46 years, saying that the group had seen significant development from a five-member association with loose co-operation to a bloc of 10 countries in Southeast Asia

In particular, the ASEAN Charter had created a legal foundation and an institutional mechanism for the association to enhance regional links, with its immediate goal of forming the ASEAN Community based on three pillars by 2015, he said.

According to Vinh, the bloc had proved its increasingly active and proactive role in handling important and strategic issues in the region, while being flexible, dynamic and quick to adapting to change.

Although its members were only small- and medium-sized countries, ASEAN was attractive to many important partners in the region and the world, he said.

It had established and promoted its core role in an evolving regional architecture in order to foster and maintain an environment of security, peace, stability and development in the region, he added.

However, the Deputy FM stressed that ASEAN faced a lot of challenges, such as differences in strategic priorities and national capacities of member countries, territorial disputes and conflicts among countries, as well as common security challenges in the region, both traditional and non-traditional, including the East Sea, the Korean Peninsula, climate change, natural disasters and epidemics.

The increasing intervention of major countries had created favourable conditions for ASEAN to develop, but also posed many challenges such as building trust and overcoming suspicions and narrow-minded self-interests that could greatly impact on the solidarity and central role of ASEAN in the regional architecture.

Vinh said the vision beyond 2015 must ensure the continuation of the ASEAN Community road map. The vision must deal with both short- and middle-term objectives as well as a long-term plan, including major goals and ideals that ASEAN should target in the decades after 2015.

These goals would play an orientating role and serve as a driving force for ASEAN’s development, he noted.

UNDP Country Director Louise Chamberlain congratulated ASEAN on its satisfactory progress in building the ASEAN Community based on the three pillars of politics-security, economics and socio-culture.

She spoke highly of Viet Nam’s role in multilateral forums and hoped it would play a greater role in the post-2015 agenda.

At the event, ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh stated that after the formation of the Community, ASEAN would be part of the broader free market of East Asia, including the ASEAN Community and its 10 member states and six trade partners.

This market will have a population of 3.3 billion and account for one third of global GDP.

In this context, ASEAN economies would have great opportunities to maintain growth and sustain development, he said.

He stressed that since it joined ASEAN, Viet Nam had devoted many initiatives to the building of the ASEAN Community as well as contributed to maintaining peace and stability in the region.

In the economic field, Viet Nam had implemented measures set in the ASEAN Community road map at a high rate, he said, adding that it had made one of the greatest contributions to building the community.

During the two-day seminar, participants are scheduled to discuss the ASEAN Community building process and major orientations beyond 2015, and ASEAN Political-Security, Economic and Socio-Cultural Communities.