Monday, April 5, 2010

People sit fishing on a bank of the drought-hit Mekong River in Vientiane, Laos. Leaders of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam -- the member-states


Supporting ASEAN member countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) to narrow the development gap, reinforce unity and promote regional integration is always considered one of the top priorities for ASEAN cooperation.

The 16th ASEAN Summit (ASEAN 16) will take place in Hanoi from April 8-9. Before the event, a Voice of Vietnam (VOV) reporter interviewed the Deputy Head of the Institute for Diplomatic Strategy Research, Luan Thuy Duong.

Reporter: ASEAN member countries have carried out many support projects to narrow the development gap to enhance unity and promote regional integration. Can you elaborate on how effectively these projects have been implemented?

Mrs Duong: In 2002, only 48 projects were put into action but the figure has now increased to 200 of which 165 have been funded by other organisations. These projects have focused on supporting ASEAN countries at a lower development level, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Many positive results have been recorded in areas such as infrastructure development, economic integration, information and communications technology, human resource development, poverty reduction, environmental protection, and tourism development.

These projects have contributed to the setting up of the sub-Mekong River development project and the East-West Corridor project as part of ASEAN’s efforts to build a united ASEAN community by 2015.

Reporter: What steps should ASEAN countries take in the future to ensure the timetable roadmap for the community?

Mrs Duong: The plan to narrow the development gap in ASEAN includes two main phases: the first, from 2002-2008 and the second, from 2009-2015.

To meet the 2015 target, ASEAN needs to carry out two important agreements signed at the 14th ASEAN Summit in Thailand last year with a focus on 181 specific measures to narrow the development gap and build the united community based on three pillar communities. Of this number, 93 measures are taken to build an economic community, 82 for a cultural and social community and the remainder for security-politics community.

In the near future, ASEAN will give priority to infrastructure and human resources development project in CLMV.

Reporter: The theme Vietnam has proposed for its 2010 ASEAN Year is “Towards an ASEAN Community: From Vision to Action”. Can you talk about Vietnam’s role in speeding up the second phase of the plan?

Mrs Duong: To reach all the set targets in line with Vietnam’s theme, the country will focus on three main issues: First, accelerating the implementation of sub-regional programmes and projects to develop the Greater Mekong sub-region, regions with the potential to grow in eastern ASEAN and the development triangle and quadrangle.

Second, it is essential to promote dialogue with other ASEAN partners and include programmes for narrowing the development gap in joint projects with ASEAN partners.

Third, Vietnam will hold seminars and forums to call for funding and investment in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Reporter: Thank you so much.

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