Last update 1/15/2012 8:30:00 AM (GMT+7)

ASEAN Foreign Ministers affirm common stance on the East Sea

ASEAN Foreign Ministers have affirmed the bloc’s common stance on ensuring peace, stability and security in the East Sea as well as maritime safety and security.

Following are excerpts from Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh’s interview granted to the media in connection with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat (AMM Retreat) in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province on January 11.

Reporter: Could you please tell us about the significance of the AMM Retreat?

Mr Minh: This was the first meeting hosted by Cambodia in its capacity as ASEAN Chair 2012, giving foreign ministers a chance to build action plans and implement targets for 2012 under the theme of “ ASEAN: One Community, One Destiny”.

The meeting discussed prioritised orientations on building the ASEAN Community, strengthening solidarity and connectivity, expanding external relations and enhancing ASEAN’s proactive role, promoting cooperation to cope with challenges in 2012.

Reporter: Could you elaborate on the major results of the meeting?

Mr Minh:
ASEAN Foreign Ministers discussed strategic issues in a frank and open manner and reached common perceptions on many important issues. They underlined the need to bring into full play what ASEAN achieved in 2010 and implement the roadmap of building the ASEAN Community and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, in combination with narrowing the development gap, and promoting sustainable and equitable development in the region to cope with challenges such as natural disasters, epidemics, energy, food and maritime security.

Besides its existing cooperative mechanisms and frameworks, ASEAN needs to be active in proposing new initiatives and measures, as well as elevating cooperation within the region and between ASEAN and its partners to a new height, helping maintain and bring into full play the central role of the group in the region.

Regarding peace and security, FMs agreed to improve cooperative mechanisms for maintaining peace and security in the region such as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting plus (ADMM+).

On the basis of the agreement reached in November, 2011, ASEAN will continue to encourage five nuclear weapon powers to become involved in the SEANWFZ protocol.
Concerning international and regional situation, they shared their views on recent developments in Myanmar, the Middle East, the East Sea and the Korean peninsular. FMs praised Myanmar for implementing the democratized roadmap for national reconciliation and development while supporting the country’s ASEAN Chair in 2014. They reiterated stance on peace and nuclear weapon-free Korean peninsula and supported the resumption of six-party negotiations.

On the East Sea issue, FMs affirmed ASEAN’s common stance on ensuring peace, stability and security in the East Sea as well as maritime safety and security, saying that concerned parities need to settle disputes through peaceful means, respect of international law, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the DOC, and start the building of the Code of Conduct (COC).

Reporter: What did Vietnam contribute to the meeting?

Mr Minh: Vietnam tabled important issues of common concern to the meeting and proposed specific measures to accelerate the building of the ASEAN Community, strengthen solidarity and connectivity, enhance ASEAN’s central role in regional structure and promote cooperation for the sake of peace and stability in the region to cope with emerging challenges.

The country asked ASEAN to effectively implement the roadmap of building the community by 2015 by increasing the efficiency of coordination and supervision and integrating ASEAN’s priorities in national development programmes.

Vietnam highlighted the need for ASEAN to implement the second phase of the ASEAN Connectivity Initiative and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity with a focus on mobilizing all resources to build a community of prosperity and sustainable and equitable development and narrowing the development gap to meet the essential requirements of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) regional grouping.

The country also asked ASEAN to reinforce solidarity, maintain its proactive role in the regional cooperation process and encourage partners to contribute to ensuring peace, security and development in the region and support each other at regional forums such as ASEAN+3, EAS, ARF and ADMM+.

Vietnam reaffirmed ASEAN’s common stance on ensuring peace, stability and security in the East Sea. Vietnam, in its capacity as coordinator in ASEAN-China dialogue relations, will work closely with ASEAN to accelerate dialogue, promote mutual trust and understanding with China and move towards building and completing the COC.

ASEAN needs to boost cooperation in dealing with sea issues including ensuring safety and security of sea routes, promoting sea rescue services and preventing sea pirates on the basis of respecting international laws and the UNCLOS.