The 37th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings from November 12 to 15 wrapped up Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020.

Minh told Russia’s Sputnik news agency that, for the first time in the bloc’s 53-year history, most ASEAN meetings were held via video conference, including the 36th ASEAN Summit in June and the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in September, which is a new format for meetings, especially high-level ones.

In choosing “Cohesive & Responsive” as the theme for its ASEAN year, Vietnam hoped to affirm that solidarity is decisive in the durability of the bloc, he said, stressing that only in a cohesive and responsive ASEAN Community can members be effectively responsive to the impact of rapid and strong changes in the world. Being responsive also helps ASEAN be more cohesive, enhancing its overall strength and resoluteness.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairing the the 8th ASEAN-US Summit on November 14

The ambassador said the impact of COVID-19 far surpasses that of the 1997 Asian financial crisis or the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. But ASEAN hasn’t been defeated, and as the Chair of the bloc, Vietnam has joined other members in exerting every effort to overcome any and all difficulties.

Nguyen Manh Tien, Vice Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee for External Relations, told Sputnik that Vietnam fully performed its role as a connectivity centre of ASEAN, earning the appreciation of leaders of other nations.

It has also taken the lead in boosting economic connectivity in the “new normal”, which has not only helped its economy sustain growth this year but also been a starting point for the re-establishment of supply chains affected by the pandemic, he said.

The timely adaptation and response to COVID-19 is also a highlight of Vietnam’s activities as the ASEAN Chair, Tien said. As soon as the pandemic was first uncovered in China’s Wuhan city, Vietnam convened meetings to discuss the urgent actions needed to fight the outbreak and shifted most ASEAN meetings from in-person to online.

The number of events delayed or cancelled due to COVID-19 was minimised as a result, helping to ensure cohesion among member states in joint activities and the implementation of programs.

ASEAN has become more cohesive as a new link in global supply chains and the fight against the pandemic, he said.

Meanwhile, international relations analyst Nguyen Minh Tam told the Russian news agency that, under Vietnam’s leadership, ASEAN’s international role increased considerably in 2020 and the bloc reached consensus on many important issues relating to regional peace and stability.

From 2020 onwards, ASEAN will gradually become an example of a community of solidarity for the goal of building peace, stability, equality, development, and prosperity, he added.

Source: VNA