|Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh|
How would you assess Vietnam’s diplomatic achievements in 2020?
The global and regional situations were mercurial in 2020, especially with the appearance of COVID-19, which has been heavily sabotaging activities from politics and economy to society and people’s health in all corners of the world.
In this context, under the leadership of the Party, our whole political system has been doing a very good job – to both control the pandemic and keep the positive economic growth. These were extremely significant attainments for the country in 2020, making for quite a favourable backdrop for all external activities of the Party and the state.
Specifically, we have been able to maintain ties with partners despite a lack of direct high-level visits. In 2020, we increased exchanges via video talks or telephones with 33 calls between top Vietnamese leaders and overseas counterparts – in a typical year, inbound and outbound visits and exchanges averages only at 10-20.
During these calls, expanding ties between Vietnam and those nations were discussed by the Party general secretary, state president; the prime minister; and the National Assembly chairwoman, helping to maintain relations with other nations.
Moreover in 2020, we acted as chair of ASEAN and the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, and also as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
There was the continued highlight of solidarity, bonding, and the central role of ASEAN in solving issues on responding to upheavals in the wider world and in the region. We have also contributed to solving issues at the UNSC, while being a representative for developing nations and smaller countries in the organisation.
Regarding economic integration, Vietnam and the EU adopted the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. Vietnam and other ASEAN nations also inked the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership with the blocs’ five partners. These were very important contributions to the Party and the state’s economic diplomacy in 2020.
What exactly did Vietnam achieve in its role as ASEAN chair and what goals have yet to be carried out in full?
We embarked upon 2020 as ASEAN chair, and the year was quite different from others. The pandemic had negative impacts on our activities, especially meetings at different levels aimed to exchange and discuss ideas and plans, as well as to map out orientations for activities.
Vietnam advanced the theme of being “Cohesive and Responsive” for ASEAN 2020, which was quite suitable to the situation. It is the goal that ASEAN wanted to head forward in 2020, also the bloc’s message to the wider world.
The second point that the ASEAN chair must address was to ensure the effective implementation of all the priorities it had advanced. In 2020 we have achieved all we set out to do in building up the ASEAN Community.
In 2020, more than 80 documents were adopted, with a focus laid on constructing the ASEAN Community – via our boosting assessment and review of the ASEAN Blueprint until 2025; on reviewing the ASEAN Charter; and constructing the post-2025 ASEAN Vision.
Also last year, Vietnam was expected to advance 32 initiative proposals, and 28 of those have been inserted into ASEAN’s documents so far. This is also another success of Vietnam as the proposals have met the common interests of ASEAN member states.
In 2020, ASEAN rapidly responded to the health crisis, with Vietnam successfully organising special conferences of ASEAN and between the bloc and partners to respond to COVID-19, and advance four related initiatives – building up a response fund, developing a regional reserve of medical supplies, formulating a plan to respond to each possible scenario, and charting a post-pandemic economic recovery plan.
Moreover, we changed the method of organising ASEAN’s meetings due to the health crisis. Instead of physical meetings, over 550 online events were held, including 20 high-level meetings such as the 36th and 37th ASEAN summits, and 70 ministerial-level meetings.
We also advanced new contents at ASEAN meetings including the highlighted role of women, which has been a consistent issue during our participation in multilateral diplomatic activities not only within ASEAN but also at the UNSC. We also advanced new content in 2020 – strengthening connectivity and exchanges between ASEAN and sub-regions, specifically the cooperation of nations within the Mekong region.
How has Vietnam’s prestige and status been enhanced in the international arena over the past year?
Our Party and state’s policy is to take the initiative in international integration, and we have been implementing the Party Secretariat’s policy on enhancing multilateral external activities. This has been a major target during our international integration, including economic integration.
We boost integration and participation in international organisations in order to formulate regulations and laws to ensure the benefits of all nations including our own. This means Vietnam is not just a responsible member, but also a proactive one.
We also aim to enhance the country’s independence and self-reliance in formulating external policy and implementing diversification of relations with other nations. Furthermore, we also aim to promote the role of Vietnam in the international arena – as Party General Secretary, State President Nguyen Phu Trong has stated, “Never has our country enjoyed such fortunes, potential, status, and prestige as it does today.”
This has also attested to the country’s major achievements over the past 35 years of doi moi that has driven Vietnam forward. Also, the country’s role and status have been increasingly enhanced internationally.
Following achievements in 2020, what will be the key tasks and orientations of Vietnam’s diplomacy in 2021 and beyond?
In 2021, it is forecasted that the regional and global situation will continue seeing complicated developments including COVID-19, challenging all nations including Vietnam.
However, we also see numerous opportunities including the trend of peace, stability, and continued development.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is also taking place globally, in which digital economy and high technology are offering new opportunities to Vietnam, not only in socioeconomic development but also in new methods in external activities.
Thus, Vietnam’s diplomacy in 2021 will be focused on further sharpening relations with other nations and partners, especially strategic and comprehensive partners and neighbouring nations via new effective methods.
We will also continue proactively international integration through our activities at the UNSC. At the same time in ASEAN, we will have to promote the implementation of results achieved in 2020, and foster the bloc’s development.
We have also partaken in many free trade agreements and there will also be adoption of new ones in the future. These deals must be effectively implemented so that opportunities can be materialised. This is a shared task for all ministries, agencies, and localities, not only for the diplomatic sector.
One of the issues of prime importance is that we must continue maintaining an environment of peace and stability, and protection of the country’s sovereignty. This is a very critical and consistent task.
Nguồn: Vietnam Investment Review