Vietnam will be a responsible, active, and proactive member of the ASEAN family that strives to strengthen the regional integration of the bloc and accelerate the building of the ASEAN Community, according to Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh.
Deputy PM Minh, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the assertion in his article “Vietnam 2015: A Proactive Force for Peace, Stability and Community-Building in Southeast Asia” recently published in the weekly NewEurope in Belgium, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
Vietnam expects Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations will be concluded this year, which will take the total number of free trade agreements (FTAs) the country has signed with its partners to 12, Deputy PM Minh wrote, adding that these pacts cover over 50 countries, including more than 15 members of the G20 bloc.
“Vietnam optimistically foresees itself to be the first (and perhaps only) ASEAN member state to have FTA arrangements, whether bilateral or multilateral, with all the major powers and economies of the world,” the article says.
Regarding regional conflicts, the official noted Vietnam believes strongly that the responsibility to exercise self-restraint lies firstly with the major powers, which are best positioned and equipped through their actions to build trust and proceed with the peaceful settlement of disputes.
In respect of Vietnam’s ties with the European Union (EU), the Vietnamese official affirmed that the EU is one of the most important partners and supporters during the Southeast Asian country’s ongoing course of reform.
He wrote in the article that Vietnam and the other ASEAN nations share a common desire to see greater European involvement in ensuring cooperation, peace, stability, and prosperity throughout East Asia.
ASEAN is a political and economic organization of ten countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
Foreign Minister Minh also mentioned the EU’s interests in a peaceful, stable, and integrated ASEAN.
Regarding the East Vietnam Sea disputes, Deputy PM Minh said that ASEAN and China are working hard with a view to obtaining early outcomes in managing rifts, and that the two sides have agreed to the early conclusion of the “Code of Conduct in the East Sea.”
The Vietnamese diplomat made references to increased concerns over continued major challenges faced by the Asia-Pacific region in 2015, including adaptability to the intersection of the interests of major regional powers.
Disputes over territories and maritime zones may become more complex, while non-traditional security issues including piracy, transnational crime, and disorderly or illegal migration will likely become more serious as well, the article says.
Deputy PM Minh concluded his article by expressing optimism about Vietnam’s position as an increasingly important gateway and bridge in the EU-ASEAN relations.