July 28, 1995 marked an important milestone in Vietnam’s regional and international integration when the country became the 7th member of ASEAN in a solemn admission ceremony in Brunei , the host country of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 1995.

Since then, Vietnam has actively and proactively took part in ASEAN cooperation and made important contributions to determining ASEAN’s development future, cooperation orientations and major decisions, helping strengthen solidarity and cooperation as well as improve the international role and position of the association.

With an aspiration to join hands in building a peaceful, stable and prosperous region, Vietnam and other ASEAN members have overcome the differences and issues left by history to step up comprehensive cooperation in the spirit of friendship and solidarity.

Right after joining ASEAN, Vietnam has actively accelerated the admission of Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia to the association, helping complete the idea on an ASEAN comprising all 10 Southeast Asian nations. This was an important development milestone of ASEAN, creating an essential foundation for the association to become a comprehensive, intensively-linked and important regional organisation in Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific as currently.

Regarding Vietnam’s contributions that create its imprint in ASEAN, Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh stressed that over the past 17 years, Vietnam has actively, proactively and responsibly contributed to ASEAN’s common goals, especially in 2010 when it played the role as ASEAN Chair.

Vietnam has also made active contributions to maintaining solidarity in the bloc, pushing the roadmap to build the ASEAN Community and implement the ASEAN Charter with an aim of turning ASEAN into a community of solidarity with close economic connectivity in 2015, and together striving for peace, stability, cooperation and development of the region, he said.

According to the Deputy FM, the countries have appreciated the great role of Vietnam in efforts to improve and deepen intra-bloc relations as well as ties between ASEAN and its partners in order to create the strength to deal with common challenges such as natural disasters, climate change and financial crisis.

Looking back on the history of ASEAN formation and development, from the first five members, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, which founded the bloc on August 8, 1967 on the basis of the Bangkok Declaration, ASEAN now has brought together all the 10 countries in the region.

After 45 years of formation and development, with many ups and downs, ASEAN has become a comprehensive regional cooperation organisation and a dynamic political-economic entity which plays an important role and position in Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific, advancing towards an ASEAN Community in 2015.

Among ASEAN’s numerous accomplishments, one of the most noteworthy is that ASEAN has been the leading important factor in ensuring an environment of peace, security and cooperation for regional development. This leading important role has been vividly reflected in the association’s great efforts in promoting political-security cooperation and building rules of conduct, thus strengthening mutual understanding and trust as well as preventing conflicts among regional countries.

ASEAN has also created multi-faceted cooperation relations with important partners in the world as well as successfully initiated and played a key role in some regional cooperation frameworks, especially the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) – the only regional mechanism for dialogue and cooperation in political-security issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

The role of ASEAN as the main driving force in promoting regional cooperation and connectivity in East Asia , particularly in economics-trade, was reflected in the fact that it initiated and played the core role in creating suitable frameworks to boost East Asian cooperation through mechanisms between ASEAN and its partners and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

In addition, ASEAN has also helped found and played an important role in inter-regional cooperation mechanisms such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC).

With its important geo-strategic position in the region plus open policies and great contributions, ASEAN has become an indispensable partner of big countries and centres in the world.

The partners have attached importance to intensifying the comprehensive cooperation with ASEAN, both multilaterally and bilaterally, assisting the association in building the ASEAN Community and supporting its key role in the region.

They have also considered ASEAN as a reliable address and an important catalyst for connecting and harmonising intertwined interests, together working towards a common goal of maintaining peace, stability, mutual development and prosperity.

With experiences and successes of the past 45 years along with existing intra-bloc potentials and solidarity in a great determination, the people of the 10 ASEAN nations are looking towards a prosperous community in 2015.-VNA