On addressing the sixth ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-6) in Phnom Penh on May 29, Vietnam’s Defense Minister General Phung Quang Thanh called on all ASEAN countries to maintain an environment of peace, stability, cooperation and development in order to establish the Political-Security Community by 2015.
To realize this target, all parties must keep calm and restrained and hold talks to solve disputes at sea by adhering to international laws, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), said Minister Thanh.
All parties need to stick to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), signed between ASEAN and China, and work towards a Code of Conduct (COC).
He stressed that Vietnam’s viewpoint is solving bilateral disputes through bilateral talks and disputes involving many countries, many sides should be dealt with multilaterally, to find an acceptable solution for every party concerned.
The region’s countries also need to build up trust and prevent conflicts by increasing bilateral and multilateral cooperation in defense in the framework of the ADMM and ADMM Plus mechanisms.
He said that border and territorial disputes in the region and sovereignty claims in the East Sea are very complex and could lead to armed conflict if the concerned parties do not try to restrain themselves.
“The dispute over sovereignty in the East Sea is a fact that we don’t need to avoid, because it happened within the Southeast Asian region, and the dispute occurred between ASEAN countries themselves and between several ASEAN countries and an outside country,” said the minister.
According to Thanh, although at times there are complicated disputes at sea between Vietnam and China, defense-military exchanges and cooperation between the two countries, as well as the relations between the two defense ministries, the two General Staffs, their Navies and Border Guard forces remain very good.
“It can be said that the current Vietnam-China relationship is one of solidarity, friendship and multi-faceted cooperation, which helps socio-economic development and maintains socio-politic stability in each country. The maritime dispute is the only contentious issue that exists in Vietnamese-Chinese relations at present,” Thanh said.
Minister Thanh also underlined Vietnam’s assessment and viewpoint on defense and security issues in region and around the world.
He noted that in general, the region is still a peaceful stable environment, but there are implicit security risks and threats, including non-traditional security issues.
The one-day ADMM 6 concluded in Phnom Penh on May 29 with the announcement of a paper reviewing the frequency of ASEAN Defense Ministers' Plus meetings (ADMM+) and a joint statement on enhancing ASEAN unity for a harmonized and secure community.
The statement confirmed ASEAN member countries’ commitment to implementing the DOC towards the COC and stressed the importance of maritime freedom in the East Sea in accordance with international laws, including 1982 UNCLOS.
The ADMM, first held in 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, focuses on defense in the group, which consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.