ASEAN member countries unite to overcome challenges, develop steadily hinh anh 1An ASEAN flag-raising ceremony (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) - Amid complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other arising challenges in the region and the world, the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) has resolutely affirmed the spirit of solidarity and proactiveness to confront difficulties, overcome adversities, and gradually promoting economic recovery and better caring for people.

ASEAN was established on  August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by foreign ministers of its founding countries members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Phillippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Brunei joined the association in 1984. Vietnam became the 7th member of the bloc on July, 28, 1995. Laos and Myanmar were admitted to ASEAN on July 23, 1997. Cambodia became the 10th member of ASEAN on April 30, 1999, fulfilling the dream of ASEAN that includes 10 Southeast Asian nations.

After more than half a century of establishment and development, ASEAN has always steadily developed with outstanding achievements, bringing over 650 million people in the region a peaceful and stable environment for development, and building a expanded cooperation for regional and outside countries.

So far, ASEAN has become a comprehensive regional cooperation organization, operating on  the legal basis of the ASEAN Charter. Its cooperation activities have covered a wide range of areas such as politics, economy, and society in the region.

ASEAN member nations have step by step overcome barriers of history and differences, joining hands in promoting intra-bloc cooperation and connectivity, towards realising common goals of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region, contributing strengthening peace and cooperation in Asia Pacific.

The foundation for ASEAN’s achievements over the past 54 years are intra-group cooperation mechanisms implemented through treaties, forums, conferences, projects, development programmes, the foundation of ASEAN Free Trade Area and regional cultural and sports activities.

ASEAN is currently facing unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other non-traditional challenges, requiring ASEAN member countries to unite and maintain the bloc’s central role in the region. They have have been working together to effectively solve common challenges of the region.

Speaking at the opening of the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-54) and related meetings held virtually from August 2-6, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son affirmed that solidarity and unity are the foundation for ASEAN’s strength, especially in difficult times, which is clearly demonstrated in the current fight against COVID-19.

In the face of serious socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, more than ever, ASEAN needs to strongly promote the internal strength of a resilient and cohesive Community, affirm its role and responsibility to the development of the region, he stated.

Despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 crisis, ASEAN has been making progress in building pillars and implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the master plans for the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 have been deployed evenly across the all pillars with significantly results.

ASEAN member countries have shown their unity on common issues in the region. In dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and promoting post-pandemic economic recovery, they have affirmed their efforts to implement joint initiatives and cooperation plans in responding the pandemic.

ASEAN has received commitments of cooperation and support from its partners in the fight against COVID-19, with an increasing number of vaccines for ASEAN countries and plans for economic recovery after the epidemic are being actively promoted.

The ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund has so far received 20.8 million USD contributed by the group’s member countries and partners.

The ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework is being implemented in accordance withe the roadmap, with the determination not to break supply chains, and create the most favourable conditions  for businesses to be able to maintain trade and investment.

In particular, ASEAN has planned to promote digital transformation cooperation. ASEAN ministers in charge of digital cooperation approved a digital transformation plan until 2025.

On common issues of the region such as the Myanmar situation and the East Sea, ASEAN member countries reached high consensus on proposed solutions.

Over the last 26 years since joining ASEAN, Vietnam has become one of the active and responsible members, actively contributing to maintaining peace and prosperity in the region, and building a people-centered ASEAN Community.

During the times of assuming the rotating chairs of ASEAN, Vietnam actively played its leading role when introducing a series of initiatives and proposals.

In 2020, Vietnam's initiatives on cooperation in response to COVID-19 and promote post-pandemic recovery have been agreed upon and put into action by ASEAN members such as the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies, ASEAN Strategic Framework for Public Health Emergencies, ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework and implementation plan, and ASEAN Declaration on an ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement. These initiatives have contributed to helping ASEAN stand firm against the COVID-19 pandemic and recover soon, ensuring ASEAN's development orientations.

Vietnam has shown its activeness and proactiveness in multilateralizing and diversifying its foreign relations in line with the need of cooperation and development for peace and prosperity of the whole region./.