The 10th East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting took place online on September 9 with the participation of 18 member foreign ministers within the framework of the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting (AMM 53) and other related meetings.
During the occasion, foreign ministers were given the chance to assess results achieved in recent years in fields such as the environment, energy, education, finance, health, and devise orientations for co-operation moving forward.
The countries participating in the EAS affirmed that the event serves as a forum for regional leaders to discuss strategic issues, whilst also accelerating the effective implementation of priority areas of co-operation. This includes improving the capacity to respond to and minimise the negative impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, whilst simultaneously promoting sustainable recovery throughout the region.
In his speech, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh emphasised that on the occasion of the 15th anniversary, amid plenty of regional changes, the meeting is an opportunity for countries to evaluate progress made and devise fresh directions as the group moves into a new phase of co-operation.
As ASEAN Chair 2020, as well as the host of this year’s EAS, Vietnam has made continuing to build upon previous achievements and co-operating closely with all participating countries to strengthen the important role of the EAS the top priority. In addition, the nation will continue to actively contribute to dialogue and co-operation efforts to maintain peace, security, and prosperity, along with effectively responding to emerging challenges in the region, Deputy PM Minh said.
Upon assessing progress in the recent activities of participating countries, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi emphasised that co-operation activities over the past 15 years has served to achieve positive progress when it comes to the energy sector. This can be viewed as effective and substantive co-operation efforts through the framework of the EAS Energy Cooperation Sub-Committee. Along with regional co-operation issues, ministers also spend time discussing regional and international issues of shared concern.
With the 15-year milestone for the EAS occurring at the same time as the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the great social and economic impact, the issue will continue to be a test of co-operation for the regional 18-nation forum.
Furthermore, EAS partners have noted their great appreciation of the Vietnamese role as ASEAN Chair 2020 to actively co-ordinate the efforts of ASEAN and its partners to effectively respond to COVID-19, whilst also giving to support to ASEAN initiatives on strengthening COVID-19 response co-operation.
ASEAN also asked the EAS to assist in improving preventive medicine capacity, along with sharing information and experience with regard to research. This is in addition to producing COVID-19 preventive and therapeutic vaccines, as well as in general efforts to restore, maintain economic linkages, and secure regional and global supply chains in order to promote recovery and sustainable growth.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh highlighted the strategic role and important contributions made by the EAS over the past 15 years, sharing his beliefs on ways to strengthen the EAS in the near future. He therefore underscored the need to augment co-operation between the EAS Chairman in EAS co-operation activities, along with improving the effectiveness of EAS co-operation with other ASEAN-led mechanisms, including ASEAN + 3, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF). In addition, the Deputy PM is an advocate of enhancing the role of the EAS when responding to emerging challenges in the region in both a timely and effective manner.
The nation's proposal to issue the Hanoi Declaration commemorating the 15th anniversary of the EAS is aimed at strengthening the role and strategic value of the EAS moving into the new development period, with the proposal receiving great support and appreciation from many nations.
With regard to the East Sea situation, Deputy PM Minh emphasised ASEAN’s principled stance which was stated at both the 36th ASEAN Summit and at the 53rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting. This position urges all parties to uphold the law, refrain from taking actions that may complicate the situation, halt militarising, resolve disputes through peaceful measures, and continue to implement the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the East Sea (DOC). Along with this, the early finalisation of a Code of Conduct for COC in the East Sea in a consistent and effective fashion with respect for international law should be followed, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which can contribute to maintaining peace, security, and stability in the East Sea and throughout the wider region.
In relation to the schedule of September 10, foreign ministers are due to participate in the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-Canada Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN-New Zealand Ministerial Meeting, the dialogue between ASEAN foreign ministers and representatives of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), and the ASEAN ministerial-level dialogue regarding promoting women's role towards sustainable peace and security.
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