|Norwegian Ambassador to ASEAN Kjell Tormod Pettersen. (Photo: KT)
Norway supports ASEAN to narrow the development gap
Ambassador Kjell Pettersen emphasizes that the pure existence of ASEAN is a success and, particularly, its ability to prevent potential conflicts among its member states since its establishment in 1967. The economic integration has been remarkable and enabled millions of people to improve living conditions.
According to the Ambassador, this has only been possible due to well-established dialogue and decision-making mechanisms and its active engagement with regional and global partners. ASEAN has established itself as an important organization in the international system and continues to develop to meet new political, social, environmental and economic challenges. ASEAN has also managed to react to challenges affecting the region in areas such as climate change, pollution, pandemic and a more global competitive economy.
According to Ambassador Kjell Pettersen, the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 and ASEAN Community Vision 2025 with its three pillars, including political-security, economic, and socio-cultural, are evidence of a forward-looking organization. Norway as a sectoral partner attaches importance to cooperation with ASEAN and is committed to working together with ASEAN to achieve the objectives of Vision 2025.
Norway and ASEAN have inter alia joint projects to study mitigation of marine littering and to enhance the use of renewable energy. Ambassador Kjell Pettersen confirmed that Norway will continue to support the bloc in community building and narrowing the development gap.
It will also promote cooperation between the two sides in areas such as marine economy, energy, the enhancement of women's role, climate change, and the treatment of medical waste.
“As the importance of Southeast Asia is growing due to geopolitical developments, ASEAN’s centrality role will be critical to the organization’s relevance and its ability to keep peace and stability not only in the region, but also globally.
This will be an ongoing challenge and will require good leadership and an innovative mind to take new initiatives. As far as I know all partners emphasize ASEAN centrality as a main principle for its cooperation, which shows the confidence they attach to ASEAN”, Ambassador Kjell Pettersen said.
Ambassador Kjell Pettersen emphasized that centrality is not only about being centrally located in a powerful part of the world, but is also about providing a platform for substantive politics. The completion of the recent Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with 15 partners creating the world’s largest free trade area is a milestone for ASEAN centrality.
|Norwegian Ambassador to Vietnam Grete Løchen. (Source: Norway's Embassy in Vietnam)
Pushing the agenda of women, peace and security
Commenting on Vietnam’s role in ASEAN, Norway’s Ambassador to Vietnam Grete Løchen highlighted that Vietnam is not only ASEAN's 4th largest economy, but also playing an increasingly important role within ASEAN. Its successful chairmanship in 2020 is proof of that.
According to the Ambassador, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the ASEAN agenda and priorities, and Norway was impressed to see that Vietnam was able to quickly adjust its ASEAN agenda to include regional cooperation and responses to the pandemic as well as stepping up efforts of sustainable economic recovery.
Vietnam has also been very active to promote ASEAN as a regional organization at the global level and enhancing cooperation and coordination between the UN and ASEAN when it comes to regional peace and stability. This was one of Vietnam’s priorities as an elected member of the UN Security Council 2020-21.
“We would also highlight that ASEAN is showing commitment to the women, peace and security agenda. Vietnam has played an important role in this respect. Vietnam and Norway share a commitment to a rules-based international order. We also share the belief that the inclusion of women is essential for conflict prevention and peace building. Women represent 50% of the population and have often better access and understanding of what happens in the communities and at the grassroots level. In times of global crisis such as the pandemic, climate change and geopolitical tensions this is more important than ever”, Ambassador Grete Løchen said.
The Ambassador hopes that Vietnam together with other ASEAN member states will push this agenda forward. The difficult situation in Myanmar is a good example of the importance of the WPS agenda and the importance of involving women in reconciliation and peace efforts of ASEAN and other international actors.