Vietnam to improve its international role through ASEAN
  • By Tuan Anh | | September 29, 2014 05:08 PM
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh suggested that Vietnam has an opportunity to increase its status on the international stage through ASEAN.

Pham Binh Minh, also minister of foreign affairs, answered a number of questions in an interview with Vietnamese press agencies after a busy week at the UN General Assembly.


Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh

After participating the 69th UN General Assembly and meeting with the leaders of several countries, what is your opinion of the international climate and how will it impact Vietnam? 

This year's assembly was complicated and touched on many issues. The secretary-general even said that it seems like the world is falling apart. Since crises and skirmishes are happening in many parts of the world, there are opinions that the world map is being redrawn. The unrest is no longer just a problem of the Middle East, it has been spreading to Iraq, Syria, Africa and the Asia-Pacific, which was once considered a stable region. Vietnam is also facing sovereignty issues.

The non-traditional security threat is ebola, the biggest and most present threat, as some national leaders noted. Besides, a conference on climate change that was held this year showed that global warming is already affecting many countries. Terrorism is becoming severe threat with the rise of ISIS, which is hiring participants from all over the world, even from Europe and America.

A bright spot is that the economy is showing signs of recovery, even if it is slow. Trade barriers are being removed. The picture of the world has both bright and dark spots, but the dark is overwhelming. 

Can you shed some light on Vietnam's foreign policy position and future aims?

Vietnam follows a few guidelines in terms of foreign policy: diversification, multilateralisation of international relations. We recognise the role of ASEAN, because when that association is strong we'll be strong. It is also been agreed upon that the UN will have annual meetings with ASEAN. Many member countries of ASEAN have defense cooperation deals.

The US mentioned its concerns about the East Sea problem during a meeting with ASEAN. What is Vietnam's plan for strengthening cooperation with the US on maritime issues?

The East Sea has important maritime routes with huge amounts of ships and cargo. Any change would first affect the regional countries, but it would also gradually impact other countries. The issue has been mentioned many times among ASEAN members depending on the severity. Recently, the East Sea issue has been brought up at all meetings between ASEAN members and other countries. The US proposed to smooth tensions and to not occupy uninhabited islands. These proposals were also highlighted in Joint Declaration on Realisation of the ASEAN Community in 24th ASEAN Summit.

Can you give an update on Vietnam's progress on being elected to UN councils? 

Vietnam is campaigning for election to the UN Economic and Social Council 2016-2018 and the UN Security Council 2020-2021. We were members of these two councils. Now we are currently running for the seats again.The next vote won't come for another two to three years. But our credibility and relations with other countries are good, so we have received much support.  Previously, Vietnam was selected to be part of the UN Human Rights Council with a high vote count. 

Moreover, we are the only candidate for UN Security Council. The number of empty seats and candidates for the Economic and Social Council are the same, so it's a favour factor.

Climate change is the main topic at this year's UN General Assembly, and a UN Climate Summit was held at the suggestion of the secretary-general. Does the world's attention on this problem have any effects on Vietnam's fight against climate change in the coming time?

The 15th Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen failed several years ago, so this year conference promotes stronger commitments before the Conference of the Parties in Paris next year. Some large economies have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emission. Vietnam is not a big emitter, but has to suffer from its consequences. We hope to cooperate and to be sponsored in climate change prevention. Climate change has severe impacts on Vietnam's food production capacity. Since Vietnam is one of the largest rice exporters, this may affect world's food security too.

Thank you.

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