Lao Deputy FM: ASEAN fulfils all set plans in 2020 under Vietnam chairmanship hinh anh 1Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Thongphan Savanphet in the interview granted to the VNA (Photo: VNA)

Vientiane (VNA) - Under the leadership of Vietnam as ASEAN 2020 Chair, ASEAN has fulfilled all of its set goals, initiatives and priorities despite facing many great challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Thongphan Savanphet.

Thongphan Savanphet, who is also head of Laos’ ASEAN SOM, made the remark while granting an interview to the Vietnam News Agency correspodent in Vientiane ahead of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related summits scheduled for November 12-15.

Congratulating Vietnam on the successes and outcomes it has made as Chair of ASEAN 2020, he said prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, ASEAN set a number of priorities, including assessing the Blueprints of the three pillars, discussing the ASEAN Vision 2025, or exchanging other issues to create more cohesion for development and narrowing the development gap between ASEAN member countries.

ASEAN has also continued to boost activities to promote the bloc's identity, such as the use of the ASEAN flag at the offices of the member countries, or the use of the ASEAN anthem, he added.

After the COVID-19 broke out, ASEAN has launched many initiatives such as the establishment of the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund and the  ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies.

In addition, the ASEAN countries discussed a cooperation framework to restore the economy or open "special green lanes" for tourism, while exchanging with Japan on the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for emerging diseases and public health emergencies. They also discussed and announced other documents planned during the period.

According to Thongphan Savanphet, more than 80 documents are expected to be approved, recognised and announced at the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings. This is the largest number of documents ever to be released, proving that despite facing the huge challenges in 2020, under the chairmanship of Vietnam, all plans and initiatives launched by ASEAN have all been completed with high efficiency.

When asked about some of the issues expected to be discussed at the 37th ASEAN Summit, he said that the prominent issue at this summit would be cooperation to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic, restore the economy or deal with the socio-economic impacts in each member country.

Besides, the ASEAN leaders may discuss future cooperation, including joint research on how to access COVID-19 vaccines in all member countries when vaccines are available; and ways to build a strong ASEAN Community, especially the implementation of the ASEAN Vision 2025 or the Blueprints of ASEAN’s three pillars, including the Political-Security Community, the Economic Community and the Socio-Cultural Community.

They will also look into relations with non-ASEAN countries as well as regional and international issues, including the Korean Peninsula issue, climate change, and enhancement of women’s role.

Commenting on Vietnam's contributions during the ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020, the Lao official said that Vietnam has had many useful initiatives for ASEAN, such as strengthening ASEAN community cohesion, reassessing the Blueprints as well as the performance of the role of ASEAN, and discussing measures to narrow the development gap among the member nations.

Especially, during the period of COVID-19 spreading, Vietnam actively put forth many initiatives to consult and exchange experience with not only ASEAN countries but also outside partners on how to cooperate in preventing and coping with the pandemic and restoring the ASEAN economy for future growth.

Thongphan Savanphet concluded that Vietnam’s great contributions during its ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020 have contributed to protecting peace, stability and development of ASEAN, helping the grouping stay united and continue to maintain its central role in cooperation with other countries outside, while creating more cohesion and solidarity in the bloc.

Vietnam has successfully assumed the roles of ASEAN Chair and non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2020, thereby proving its position on the international arena, he said, adding that the country has also helped strengthen ASEAN's role by inviting the ASEAN Secretary-General to address a meeting of the council.

This is another demonstration of Vietnam's leadership role at the regional and world forums, affirmed the Lao Deputy FM./.