|Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addresses the opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit. Photo: VGP|
8:47 AM, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc delivers opening remarks
Allow me to warmly welcome leaders of ASEAN member states and partners to the Opening Ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. Though we have not been able to meet in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our dialogue and cooperation still move forward thanks to modern digital platforms. The geographical distance and physical divide among nations have been less of an issue.
We are going through incredibly difficult times, as COVID-19 threatens the lives and livelihood of our people. The economic and social life is in disarray, further aggravated by severe natural disasters, storms, floods and droughts. The fruits of social progress and economic development accumulated over decades risk being evaporated and it may take years for us to recuperate from such losses.
Anguished by the pain of our people and desirous of recovery, the Governments of ASEAN members stood as one in our action from very early on. In mid-April, shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak, the Special ASEAN and APT Summits on COVID-19 were convened with strong pledges to act in a “Cohesive and Responsive” manner. At the 36th ASEAN Summit in June, ASEAN member states began taking decisive actions both at the national and regional levels.
At this 37th ASEAN Summit, we will establish the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and adopt the ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies. We have agreed to establish the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases with Japan's assistance. These are substantive outcomes of great significance, which help enhance our shared capacity for response to medical emergencies and future epidemic threats.
Three quarter a century has passed since the end of the Second World War. World peace and security, however, are yet truly sustainable. This year, they are particularly under greater threat as a result of compounding risks arising from the unpredictable conduct of states, major power rivalries and frictions, challenged international multilateral system, increasingly acute non-traditional security issues and rise of extremist tendencies.
In recognizing the opportunities and challenges facing our region, ASEAN has always stayed true to its path of self-reliance and steadfast in finding a balanced and harmonious approach. Its centrality is maintained without being swayed or drawn into the maelstroms in the region and the world.
We will adopt a range of important documents with our partners, including the Declaration on the 15th Anniversary of the EAS, and the APT Leaders’ Statement on Strengthening Cooperation for Economic and Financial Resilience in the Face of Emerging Challenges. We will also conclude negotiations and sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which indicates our strong commitment to trade liberalization and connectivity between ASEAN and its partners.
Further efforts should be made towards the establishment of a rules-based multilateral cooperation arrangement in the region, and formulate and share universally-accepted norms. As part of these efforts, Cuba, Colombia and South Africa will join the Treaty for Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) at this Summit.
Last but not least, the ASEAN Community's identity and solidarity need to be upheld in this time of trial and tribulation. I welcome the adoption of the Report on ASEAN Identity. The recommendations of the ACC on encouraging the flying of the ASEAN Flag in member states and the use of the ASEAN Anthem in official ASEAN functions are also well-received.
8:36 AM, top leader Nguyen Phu Trong delivers welcome remarks
He express his great pleasure to address the opening ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related Summits - the most important series of ASEAN meetings this 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," Trong said.
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.
Against the multi-colored backdrop of the world today, the top Vietnamese leader said: "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".
He affirmed that "It is Viet Nam’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, Viet Nam 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".
As the ASEAN Chair, Viet Nam has been promoting a “cohesive and responsive” ASEAN and always valued the solidarity, support and assistance of fellow member states, partners and friends of ASEAN, highlighted Trong, adding that 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.
He expressed his confidence in the solidarity and collective strength of the ASEAN Community and wished that the 37th ASEAN Summit and related Summits will be crowned with success and guide ASEAN to greater heights as aspired by the regional citizens.
The 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings take place from November 12-15 in virtual format under the chair of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The 37th ASEAN Summit offers an opportunity for the grouping to review intra-bloc cooperation throughout the year as well as its cooperation with partners, while charting priorities in the future.
It is also an opportunity for ASEAN leaders to meet with many leaders of major ASEAN partners amid COVID-19 and the complex developments in the global and regional strategic environment and traditional and non-traditional security issues.
The summit, therefore, is a key chance for ASEAN leaders to affirm their commitments and strong political resolve to maintain cooperation momentum and regional connectivity to cope with the pandemic and consolidate ASEAN’s centrality and position, along with outlining the bloc’s development orientations in a rapidly, complexly, and unforeseeably changing world.
There will be 20 high-level activities, including the 37th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN+1 with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, the US, the UN and Australia, the 15th East Asia Summit (EAS), and the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), among others.
During the summits with partners, leaders will focus on building the ASEAN Community, maintaining intra-bloc cooperation momentum, expanding and deepening relations between ASEAN and partners, promoting the grouping’s centrality, raising its international position, ensuring COVID-19 prevention and control, and discussing regional and international issues of shared concern.
Viet Nam is expected to symbolically hand over the ASEAN Chairmanship to Brunei at the closing ceremony on November 15.
Outcomes of the mid-term review of the Master Plan on ASEAN Community 2025 and the ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework will be announced following a plenary session of the 37th ASEAN Summit. The establishment of a regional medical supplies reserve in response to medical emergencies will also be unveiled.
Notably, the ASEAN women leaders’ summit will be held for the first time, under the chair of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, with the participation of female leaders from ASEAN member countries. The Chairwoman of the National Assembly will deliver a speech at the summit.
More than 80 documents, including proposals by Viet Nam, are set to be approved on this occasion; the highest number to date.
An international press conference on the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings will be held on the afternoon of November 15, chaired by the PM./.
By Huong Giang
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