As the Chair of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in the 2009-2010 term, Vietnam ’s National Assembly will host the 31 st AIPA General Assembly in Hanoi on September 20.

NA Chairman, Nguyen Phu Trong, who writes an article for the media discussing the significance of the event and Vietnam ’s role in the region’s inter-parliamentary cooperation.

The 31 st AIPA General Assembly will not only be the most important external event for the 12 th NA of Vietnam in 2010, but also an opportunity for the Vietnamese NA to enhance its role and boost parliamentary cooperation in the region.

The AIPA General Assembly will also help highlight Vietnam ’s foreign policy of independence, peace, cooperation and development, diversification, and multilateralisation.

Thirty-three years ago, on September 2, 1977, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organisation (AIPO) was set up to increase cooperation between the various governments in the region.

While implementing its foreign policy, Vietnam ’s National Assembly also joined the AIPO in 1995.

In seeking solution to improve its efficiency and role in the region’s cooperation process, the name of AIPO was changed to ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly – AIPA, in 2007.

Vietnam has always taken an active part in every General Assembly, committee meetings and other AIPA activities, as well as implemented AIPA’s action plans and resolutions.

The Vietnamese NA also introduced many initiatives, to boost solidarity and the AIPA’s influence, which received a lot of support and praise from other member countries.

Vietnam successfully organised many activities for AIPO/AIPA, especially acting as the chair of the AIPO in 2001-2002 and in hosting the 23 rd AIPO General Assembly in September 2002.

Throughout the AIPO/AIPA activities, Vietnam gained a lot of experience as well as benefits. The NA has contributed to the success of the open foreign policy during the integration period and created a favourable political environment for the process of national renewal.

AIPO/AIPA has been an important forum for Vietnam , enabling it to voice its viewpoint and opinions on issues of regional and international concern while protecting the nation’s interests.

AIPA’s inter-parliamentary cooperation mechanism has helped to boost friendship, understanding and trust between Vietnamese NA deputies and other regional parliamentarians, as well as between Vietnam and countries throughout the region.

After joining the AIPA, Vietnam had the opportunity to discuss the country’s issues and overcome prejudices and differences in political institutions in other countries, to further mutual understanding and trust. In addition, members of the Vietnamese NA used the opportunity to exchange information and experiences in law-making and parliamentary affairs.

After taking over the AIPA’s chair in 2009-2010 term, an important period in ASEAN development, Vietnam successfully hosted many activities, including the AIPA conference on the role of female parliamentarians in the law-making process, appointing a new AIPA General Secretary, conferences on the impacts of the global economic crisis, sustainable development and drug control.

In early September, Vietnam attended the G20 parliamentary leaders’ consultative conference in Canada , representing the AIPA to voice the region’s opinions on world issues.

On Vietnam ’s initiative, a meeting between the heads of the AIPA and ASEAN governmental leaders was held for the first time as part of the 16 th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi in April 2010. The event marked an important step in bettering the coordination between AIPA and ASEAN in solving regional and international issues.

With the theme “uniting nations for sustainable development of the ASEAN Community”, AIPA General Assembly-31 will focus its agenda on peace, cooperation, and security in the region to help bring the ASEAN Charter to life, solve non-traditional security problems such as terrorism, trans-national crime, climate change, natural disasters and epidemics. Social problems, ensuring gender equality and the rights of children plus preserving the individual cultures of each nation will also be discussed.

The General Assembly-31 will also give out resolutions aiming at to overcoming the consequences of the global financial crisis, promoting sustainable development, accelerating coordination between AIPA and ASEAN, strengthening links within the bloc and boosting cooperation with AIPA observer partners.

The opening day of the General Assembly-31 will also coincide with the 15 th anniversary of Vietnam joining AIPO/AIPA.

Holding the AIPA Chair and hosting the AIPA General Assembly-31 at a time when the country is preparing to celebrate the 1,000 th anniversary of Thang Long-Hanoi is an honour for Vietnam’s National Assembly in particular and the Vietnamese people in general.

Holding both the ASEAN and AIPA Chairs in 2010, Vietnam is in an excellent position to link the two organisations together

The AIPA General Assembly-31 is expected to be successful, and adopt valuable decisions to enhance relations amongst the region’s parliaments, help regional countries find a common voice in issues relating to regional peace, security, economy and society bring regional parliamentary cooperation to a new height and contribute to the goal of establishing an ASEAN Community by 2015.

The General Assembly-31 is expected to leave international friends with an impression of a stable and peaceful Vietnam , with a unique culture, a friendly people and a proactive NA Assembly./.