President Truong Tan Sang has granted an interview to The Jakarta Post on the occasion of his State visit to Indonesia from June 27-28.

The following is the full text of the interview.

Question 1: Ten years ago both Vietnam and Indonesia agreed to forge a Comprehensive Partnership and now that partnership had transformed into a “Strategic Partnership”. How do you describe the fast growing strategic ties between Vietnam and Indonesia and their future direction in the next five years?

Vietnam and Indonesia enjoy a time-honoured traditional friendship, which has been continuously nurtured by generations of the leaders and the peoples of the two countries. Based on that good foundation, in June 2003, the two sides signed the “Joint Statement on the Framework of Friendly and Comprehensive Cooperation Entering into the 21st Century”.

The signing of this Joint Statement opened up a new page for a stronger and more comprehensive relationship between the two countries. Vietnam and Indonesia have frequently exchanged visits and contacts between the high-level leaders of the two sides. Many bilateral cooperation mechanisms have been established and operating effectively. The two sides have signed more than 30 agreements and memorandums of understanding for cooperation in all important areas such as politics, national defence and security, economics, trade, investment, education and agriculture, etc., thus laying the firm legal foundation for comprehensive bilateral relations.

In the future, our two countries should further deepen our bilateral ties. First and foremost, we should actively coordinate with each other to develop a new Action Plan to intensify political cooperation, promote sustainable development in economic and trade relations to soon exceed the bilateral trade target of 5 billion USD before 2015 and strive for 10 billion USD before 2018, strengthen security and defence cooperation, and expand cooperation to other potential areas such as education and training, maritime issues and fisheries, oil and gas, culture, sports and tourism, and people-to-people exchange, etc., with an aim to make cooperation in these fields match our potentials and the existing excellent political relations between the two countries.

In regard to multilateral cooperation, the two sides will cooperate and coordinate closely at both international and regional forums, particularly the ASEAN and UN, and promote the building of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

It is expected that during this visit, leaders of the two countries will announce the official upgrade of bilateral relations to a strategic partnership. I firmly believe that this visit of mine to Indonesia will contribute to further tightening the comprehensive cooperation between our two countries, for the interests of the two peoples and for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Question 2: In less than three years time, the people of ASEAN will be forming themselves into a community. As two key regional players, Vietnam and Indonesia should do in building a stronger and united ASEAN?


We all know that at the recent 21st ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Leaders agreed to choose December 31, 2015 as the official birthday of the ASEAN Community. In 2013, under the theme “Our people, our future together”, ASEAN has been prioritising efforts aiming at creating strong shifts in the establishment of the ASEAN Community to ensure the good progress as stated in the roadmap and achieve the set targets by 2015. To date, the outcomes are quite promising. It could be said that ASEAN has gone two thirds of its journey towards the establishment of the Community. However, achievements are uneven in the three pillars, mainly due to resources shortage, differences in the development levels of individual countries, as well as the impacts caused by objective challenges.

Vietnam highly values the role of Indonesia, a key ASEAN member with many initiatives of strategic significance. It helps set directions for the cooperation within ASEAN and with its outside partners, including the Bali Concord II (Declaration on ASEAN Harmonisation II – 2003) and Bali Concord III (Declaration on the ASEAN Community in Global community of nations – 2011). While serving as the ASEAN Chair in 2011, Indonesia actively promoted its leading role in setting directions for ASEAN to enhance its coordination of position and actions on global issues, consolidate intra-regional unity and resolve differences among members, etc.

In the future, the two countries should work closely together to promote the focuses and priorities agreed by ASEAN, particularly: (i) to implement the roadmap for the ASEAN Community building, in line with the set progress and targets for all three pillar, notably the economic one, as well as programs on connectivity and development gap narrowing; (ii) to consolidate ASEAN unity to make full use of ASEAN’s leading role and voice in important issues related to regional peace and security, as well as to maintain its central role in the region; (iii to expand and deepen its cooperation with partners; and (iv) to intensify the promotion and improvement of people’s awareness on building a truly people-centred ASEAN Community. At the same time, we should actively work out orientations for ASEAN in the post-2015 period, based on the continuity and promotion of the roadmap to realise the ASEAN Community, implementation of the Bali Concord III on the ASEAN Community in the global community of nations as well as reforms to enhance the effectiveness of ASEAN’s apparatus.

Given the challenges to the regional security, Vietnam and Indonesia have also confirmed our resolve to promote the consensus voice of ASEAN in upholding principles of respect for international law, self-restraint, non-use of force, and settlement of disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). A united voice will give ASEAN the strength in negotiations with its partners, thus contributing to cementing the central role of ASEAN in the regional security architecture. Currently, Indonesia is actively upholding its role as the APEC Chair of 2013. Vietnam appreciates and supports the APEC 2013 priorities and other initiatives made by Indonesia , particularly on regional economic connectivity, regional integration, and education. We believe that Indonesia ’s success as the APEC Chair in 2013 will help enhance ASEAN’s position in economic cooperation with the whole region in general.

During my visit to Indonesia this time, the two sides will once again affirm the determination to further tighten cooperation, together with other ASEAN members to exert greater efforts to overcome differences and diversity towards building a strong and united community having a common voice and increasingly growing role and position in the region.

Question 3: How do you see the role of Indonesia on the issue of East Sea?


Being a country having sovereignty claims in the region, Vietnam always desires to settle the East Sea issue through peaceful means, negotiations and dialogues based on international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS and the DOC. We always uphold the benefits and importance of the maintenance of maritime security and safety in the East Sea to contribute to peace, stability and development in the region as well as to consolidate to the central role of ASEAN in resolving regional security matters.

With that in mind, we appreciate Indonesia’s role and responsibility to actively support peace, maritime security and safety in the East Sea, the full observance of the DOC, the move toward a COC. At the same time, Indonesia always plays an important role in maintaining regional dialogues; promoting ASEAN’s unity and contributing to the safeguarding of peace and stability in the East Sea. This has been clearly demonstrated throughout 2011 when Indonesia served as the ASEAN Chair. Particularly, Indonesia had a very crucial role in promoting ASEAN’s consensus in the making of the Statement on six-point principles on the East Sea in July 2012.

The East Sea is the shared concern of many countries as it is closely related to peace and security of the entire region. Therefore, it is a must for ASEAN to have a role and voice in these issues. To that end, ASEAN should promote consensus based on principles stated in DOC, Statement on six-point principles of ASEAN on the East Sea, High-level Declaration between ASEAN and China on the 10th anniversary of the DOC, towards the early completion of COC.

Vietnam expects that Indonesia will continue to make full use of its active role to contribute to peace, stability and development in the East Sea. We will work closely with Indonesia in all bilateral and multilateral forums for the common interests of both ASEAN and the whole region.-VNA