Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, who led the Vietnamese
delegation to the event, said the two sides should give priority to
boosting partnership in economics-trade, connectivity and response to
security challenges, both traditional and non-traditional, in the
He asked the EU to continue supporting ASEAN to build the ASEAN
Community and uphold its central role in the region while implementing
the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) on narrowing the development
gap among members and developing the Mekong Subregion (GMS),
particularly regarding food and water security.
As regards the East Sea issue, the diplomat expressed his deep concern
over the complicated developments and reiterated the common stand of
ASEAN in the field.
He spoke highly of the EU’s viewpoints and asked the union to continue
supporting efforts to maintain peace and stability in the East Sea while
advocating the settlement of any dispute via peaceful means on the
basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with respect for diplomatic and legal
procedures and the exercise of self-restraint without use of or threat
to use forces whilst implementing fully and effectively the Declaration
on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and working toward
finalising a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) as soon as possible.
At the conference, ASEAN and EU foreign ministers welcomed the progress
in bilateral ties gained since the AEMM-20 in Brussels, Belgium, in
2014, particularly the implementation of the Plan of Action in 2013-2017
to realise the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced
The two sides agreed to strive towards elevating the bilateral relations
to strategic partnership and adopted the Bangkok statement on promoting
ASEAN-EU global partnership for common strategic goals, which set out
orientations, frameworks and solutions to enhance bilateral cooperation
in significant fields.
Regarding policies and security, they agreed to strengthen collaboration
to maintain peace and security in the region and at sea, advocate the
observance of international law, and deal with non-traditional security
challenges, especially terrorism, cross-border crime, cyber security,
maritime security, climate change and natural disasters management.
On the economic front, the two sides agreed to kick-start negotiations
on an ASEAN-EU free trade area, enhance connectivity via air and sea
routes, and develop small-and medium-sized enterprises.
Pertaining to culture and society, ASEAN and EU will increase
people-to-people exchanges and cooperation on tourism,
education-training, and science-technology.
The EU pledged to work closer with ASEAN in sustainable development and continue supporting ASEAN to build the community.
The uion also expressed its wish to participate in some regional mechanisms which ASEAN takes a leading role.
Ministers also discussed regional and international issues of mutual
concerns, including the East Sea issue. They again stressed the need to
maintain peace, stability, safety, security, and freedom of aviation and
navigation while calling on the involved parties to exercise
self-restraint, refrain from the use of or threat to use forces and
address disputes peacefully based on international law, speficially the
They declared support for ASEAN and China’s efforts to implement effectively the DOC and soon reach the COC.
On the sidelines of the conference, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc
Dung had bilateral meetings with heads of ASEAN delegations, the foreign
ministers of Finland, the Netherlands, and Latvia, and deputy foreign
ministers of Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Greece, and Austria.
The meetings focused on measures to enhance relations between Vietnam
and the countries, especially in economics, trade, investment,
sustainable development, climate change, tourism and people-to-people
Deputy FM Dung also proposed the countries actively persuade the EU to
soon sign and ratify the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement and recognise
Vietnam’s market economy status.
Currently, EU is the third biggest trade partner and the biggest foreign
investor of ASEAN. Bilateral trade reached 228.2 billion USD in 2015,
making up 10 percent of the bloc’s total trade. EU also injected 19.6
billion USD in ASEAN, accounting for 16.3 percent of total foreign
investment in the bloc.