On 2 August 2021, H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand attended the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting. The Meeting was chaired by Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, Second Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brunei Darussalam as the Chair of ASEAN for 2021 and was attended by ASEAN Foreign Ministers and the Secretary-General of ASEAN.
The Meeting discussed ways to strengthen the ASEAN Community and progress of the implementation of Brunei Darussalam’s priorities and deliverables, including initiatives on ASEAN SHIELD, upholding multilateralism, and ASEAN fellowship programme at the ASEAN Secretariat. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers also stressed the importance of equitable access of COVID-19 vaccine in Southeast Asia.
The Meeting emphasised the importance of multilateralism and regionalism in dealing with the rising tensions and uncertainties in the region. The Meeting shared the view that the current situation could affect the geopolitical landscape and that ASEAN must strengthen its centrality in the evolving regional architecture, especially through cooperation under the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), in order to promote peace and stability, which are the prerequisites for economic recovery efforts. In addition, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers also discussed regional situations of common concern such as the South China Sea and the situation in Myanmar. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers stressed the urgent need for ASEAN to expedite the ASEAN Leaders’ 5-Point Consensus, especially the provision of the Humanitarian Assistance to the Myanmar People.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of re-strategising ASEAN engagement with external partners amidst the competing strategic landscape of major powers in the region. On the situation in Myanmar, the timely implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, especially the provision of humanitarian assistance, remains Thailand’s priority. Thailand has made contribution through the Thai Red Cross Society to the Myanmar Red Cross Society, and Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) has delivered medical equipment to Myanmar’s National Health Laboratory in Yangon to enhance its capacity to cope with the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
In addition, H.E. Mr. Vijavat Isarabhakdi, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, also participated in related meetings on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs as follows:
1. The 23rd ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting The Vice Minister highlighted the importance of cross-pillar and cross-sectoral coordination in the implementation of the APSC Blueprint 2025, border management cooperation, cooperation in legal matters, as well as the inclusion of AOIP and other emerging issues such as cybersecurity and the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS) in the context of the ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision and the subsequent development of the next APSC Blueprint.
2. The 29th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting discussed cooperation on COVID-19 responses, especially on procurement of vaccines and anti-viral medicines, and adopted the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework. The Vice Minister expressed support for the mutual recognition of vaccines and vaccine certificates in order to prepare for the re-opening of the region. In addition, in Thailand’s capacity as the ASEAN Coordinator for Sustainable Development Cooperation, the Vice Minister also promoted ASEAN cooperation on Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy as a strategy for post-COVID-19 recovery and the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
3. The SEANWFZ Commission Meeting underlined the importance of the signing of the Protocol of the SEANWFZ Treaty by the Nuclear Weapon States and noted progress of the Plan of Action to Strengthen the Implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty (2018-2022), including the finalisation of an ASEAN Protocol for Preparedness and Response to a Nuclear and Radiological Emergency. The Vice Minister encouraged ASEAN Member States to engage constructively and proactively with Nuclear Weapon States and looked forward to the biennial resolution on the SEANWFZ Treaty at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.