|Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn met during the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Ministerial meeting on early July, 2022. (Photo: Tuan Anh)
In 2022, Cambodia is committed to leading ASEAN under the theme “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing challenges together”. It means that we act together, we think together and we move up together. We, as ASEAN countries, have the joint responsibility in building the future of this regional organization.
Strive to overcome challenges
For Cambodia, “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together” is an important message, specifically for the building of ASEAN Community Vision 2025, as ASEAN is facing numerous challenges. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and recently, the rising tensions on the Taiwan Strait (China) have remained complicated. Regionally, the situation in Myanmar and the issue of the South China Sea have continued to pose challenges to ASEAN as well as its current Chairman, Cambodia.
Just several days ago, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn disclosed that the 55th ASEAN Foreign Minister’s meetings (AMM-55) were longer than those in previous years. New, rising issues require more time for further discussion, as all countries want to share their positions on the matter.
In such context, as the Chairman of ASEAN in 2022, Cambodia has strived to fulfill its role.
First and foremost, the country has continued to maintain consensus within ASEAN and actively promoted the building of ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
Moreover, in spite of rising global and regional issues, ASEAN members have continued to uphold the ASEAN Charter and core values and norms of ASEAN. This has greatly contributed to the maintenance of ASEAN centrality. Furthermore, ASEAN centrality has continued to be respected by global powers, including the United States, China and Russia as shown during recent meetings on the framework of AMM-55, especially the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Notably, Cambodia has actively proposed new ideas and initiatives in resolving rising regional issues.
Specifically, regarding the Myanmar situation, right when Cambodia assumed its position as ASEAN Chairman 2022, our Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, with his experience in conflict resolution and mediation, proposed to pay a visit to Myanmar. We believe that meeting the conflicting parties in the country would be necessary for any further progress on the situation in Myanmar.
Therefore, in January 2022, our Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen paid an official visit to Nay Pyi Daw, the capital of Myanmar. Later on, our Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn, Special Envoy of ASEAN to Cambodia, also visited Myanmar twice. Such visits have greatly helped to further our understanding of the situation. Therefore, we can further search for a peaceful, comprehensive and sustainable political solution, with the participation of Myanmar and the rest of ASEAN.
Looking from the outside, it looked like the situation in Myanmar has not progressed. Nevertheless, we believe there were some notable changes. As the ASEAN Chairman 2022, Cambodia only declared that the situation would require additional time. Yet, we also recognized the steps necessary to resolve the conflict. For now, we believe it is necessary to provide more humanitarian assistance to Myanmar, supplying food and vaccinations for those in need here.
Regarding the South China Sea, ASEAN and concerned parties have continued to promote the negotiation and drafting of the Code of Conduct (COC). At the moment, parties/claimant states have come up with certain degrees of consensus or understanding on some important issues regarding the COC.
On Russia - Ukraine conflict, ASEAN countries agreed to call for an end to the conflict and urge related parties to resolve the conflict through peaceful dialogue.
Therefore, it can be said up until now, as the ASEAN Chairman 2022, Cambodia has been successful in maintaining a peaceful, stable environment in Southeast Asia, while continuing to seek further solutions to regional issues.
Viet Nam – responsible member of ASEAN
Viet Nam has played an important role in ASEAN's success over the past 55 years. I believe that Viet Nam’s Chairmanship in 2020 was central to the region’s overcoming of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Being an observer and participant in all ASEAN’s important online meetings, I highly appreciate Viet Nam’s efforts as ASEAN Chairman 2020.
The country has proposed and implemented numerous ideas and initiatives, with some remaining in effect up until now. Among those was the annual ASEAN Online Sale Day on August 8, when regional businesses can promote and sell their products online to citizens of other ASEAN countries. In 2020, Viet Nam cooperated with Singapore to hold this special event for the first time. For the next two years, Viet Nam has continued to work with Singapore and ASEAN Chairman countries, namely Brunei and Cambodia, to celebrate the ASEAN Online Sale Day.
As a result, for me, Viet Nam is an active member of ASEAN as it always seeks to propose and implement ideas, initiatives beneficial to all the member countries, while continuing to play a crucial role in supporting ASEAN to overcome regional and global challenges.
More importantly, Viet Nam is an important friend, trusted partner, who has continued to support and assist Cambodia with the latter’s ASEAN Chairmanship. This is an important driving force for Cambodia to further strive for a successful ASEAN Chairmanship in 2022, and therefore actively contribute to the maintenance of peace, stability, cooperation and development of the region and the world.