Nov 21, 2012

Vietnam - The first Vietnamese to be ASEAN Secretary General

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VietNamNet Bridge - Vietnam will officially have its representative as the ASEAN Secretary General in the 2013-2017 term, after Mr. Surin Pitsuwan’s term ends later this year.

According to the agenda, at the 21st ASEAN Summit (November 18-20) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, ASEAN senior leaders will approve the nomination of the Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh, as the ASEAN Secretary General in the 2013-2017 term.

Mr. Le Luong Minh is the only nominee for the above position. He was strongly supported by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to assume that position at the AMM45 in July. This is a condition for ASEAN senior leaders to approve the nomination.

VietNamNet talked with Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh about the new diplomatic role in ASEAN of Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh.

How was Mr. Le Luong Minh nominated under the principles of ASEAN?

According to the principles of the ASEAN, the Secretary General position is nominated alternately between the 10 member countries. The term of this position lasts for five years. After Thailand, it is Vietnam’s turn to nominate its representative to this position and Vietnam decided to nominate Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh. After being approved by the senior leaders of ASEAN, Minh will officially receive the new task from January 1 2013.

Is this the first time Vietnam has its representative to hold this position?

Right. This is the first time Vietnam has a representative assuming this post. In the principle of rotation, 50 years later a Vietnamese representative will be re-elected for this position again.

In addition to the ASEAN Secretary General, there are four ASEAN Vice Secretaries General. Two of them will be elected according to the principle of rotation. The two remaining will be elected on the basis of competition among candidates from all member states, but based on the principle that they have to come from different countries. And the country that has its representative holding the ASEAN Secretary General, that country will not have a Vice Secretary General.

Observers believe that Mr. Le Luong Minh performs his new role at an important time with a lot of challenges for ASEAN. Could you talk about the challenges of this period?

I can say that what Vietnam creates in ASEAN has created for us--a position to be trusted by member countries when we perform the role of the ASEAN Secretary General.

I believe that Vietnam has sufficient capacity to take on this position, especially as you said, ASEAN is facing a critical moment: ASEAN will become a Common Community in 2015, so the role of the ASEAN Secretary General is very important.

I believe in the capability and the multilateral diplomatic experience of more than 30 years of Deputy Minister Le Luong Minh, especially when he has assumed multilateral diplomatic works in the UN for the past seven years, including the international issues of the maintenance of peace, stability, resolving conflicts in many regions.

Observers also said that after Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, it is a wise choice of the ASEAN for choosing Mr. Le Luong Minh as the successor when Minh, as Vietnam's ambassador to the United Nations, has not only accumulated ties, but also the experience of behavior, especially with major countries. Meanwhile, ASEAN has become a central area of the Asia-Pacific region, with the special attention of the great powers. What do you think about it?

Vietnam nominated Mr. Minh as the ASEAN Secretary General because he is a diplomat with longtime experience of multilateral diplomacy.

He has been the Vietnamese Ambassador, Head of the Vietnamese Mission to the UN in New York for 7 years. When Vietnam was the non-permanent member of the US Security Council (UNSC) from 2008 to 2009, he also held the position of the representative of Vietnam in the UN Security Council. Vietnam assumed the Chairmanship of the UN Security Council twice in that term.

Earlier, he worked in the Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and other international organizations in Geneva (Switzerland.)

In the context of emerging regional issues, it is suggested that the new diplomatic role of Deputy Minister Le Luong Minh is also an advantage for Vietnam to implement its foreign policy?

As the ASEAN Secretary General, Minh has to ensure the common interests of the ASEAN countries. At that time, he will be the representative of the ASEAN Secretariat, that is, the representative of 10 ASEAN countries, not an individual representative of Vietnam in the ASEAN Secretariat. He is also not the ASEAN Secretary General of Vietnamese people. He is an international, regional diplomat.

Obviously, the ASEAN Secretary General of any country is always associated with the interests and external political issues of their country. But above all, Minh has to ensure the role of an ASEAN Secretary General.

Minh was born in 1952. He was appointed as Deputy Foreign Minister in December 2008.
Since February 17, 2004, he has been Vietnam's ambassador to the UN in New York City. He held this office from 1995 to 1997 for the UN institutions in Geneva and as a deputy in New York City from 1997 to 1999. He was the President of the United Nations Security Council in July 2008 and October 2009.

Xuan Linh

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