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Accession of East Timor to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flag of East Timor
Flag of East Timor
ASEAN (blue) and East Timor (red)
ASEAN (blue) and East Timor (red)

The accession of East Timor to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a process that started following the independence of the country in 2002 when its leaders stated that it had made a "strategic decision" to become a member state of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the future.[1] Closer ties with ASEAN are supported by all political parties in East Timor.[2] East Timor would have by far the smallest GDP in the ASEAN, less than 15% of the smallest current ASEAN member state Laos.[3]

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In 2002, East Timor was recognised as an observer of ASEAN and joined the ASEAN Regional Forum in 2005.[1] In January 2007, the country acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, pledging to renounce the use of force and binding East Timor to non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN member states.[4]

In 2005, East Timor said it wanted to be a member by 2010.[5] In December 2007 President José Ramos-Horta restated that joining was a top priority, and he hoped to join by 2012.[6] In January 2009, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that his country would support East Timor's membership of ASEAN by 2012.[7]

East Timor officially applied for membership in ASEAN on 4 March 2011.[8] After elections in 2012, the new government reaffirmed their commitment to joining the association.[9] While Indonesia, which East Timor gained their independence from in 2002, has pushed for them to be granted ASEAN membership, other countries, such as Singapore and Laos, have objected on the grounds that East Timor is not yet developed enough to join.[10][11] However, after the ASEAN summit in April 2013, Secretary General of ASEAN Lê Lương Minh stated that all member states now supported Timor-Leste's admission to the association.[12] Minh also stated that "Timor Leste is not yet ready to join ASEAN. So we are pushing them to qualify the obligations".[13] Philippine President Benigno Aquino III pledged his country's support to East Timor's ASEAN membership in June 2013. The Philippines has previously supported Timor-Leste's ASEAN membership through official documents in 2002 and 2010.[14]

By September 2013, the ASEAN's Coordinating Council Working Group was still evaluating Timor-Leste's membership application, and Minh said that there was no timeline for when the assessment would be completed.[15] Singapore pledged that it would not block Timor-Leste's membership in the association, with their Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, Grace Fu, saying "For any member to come into ASEAN and to be ready for 2015 will be quite a big step. Whether Timor Leste is ready, whether it has its eyes on 2015, we like to have a working group to evaluate".[16] In November 2013, U Aung Htoo, ASEAN Affairs Department deputy director, said that Timor Leste would not be ready to join in 2014 since they do not have an embassy in all 10 current ASEAN member states, a necessity for membership.[3]

In 2015, East Timor said it is now ready to join the association at any time, telling via East Timor's ambassador to Malaysia that their country had at least fulfilled two major requirements for ASEAN membership such as the country was located in this region and it had opened embassies in ASEAN member countries.[17] The Philippines re-echoed its support for East Timor's accession to ASEAN on the same year.[18][19]

In 2017, the Philippines, a close ally of Timor-Leste, became the ASEAN host for 2017. A general meeting is expected to conclude in 17 November, however, foreign reports in 4 November have said that ASEAN would bypass Timor-Leste's membership in 2017, mostly because of its lack of human resources which was pointed out by Singapore. Despite this, it was announced that East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri will continue East Timor's participation in ASEAN as an observer during the 2017 summit. The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Cambodia reiterated Timor-Leste's membership application during the summits, however, the other 6 ASEAN member states led by Singapore did not support the move.[20][21] On the last day of the summit, the Philippines was mandated by tradition to pass the ASEAN chairmanship to Singapore, whose chairmanship begins in January.[22]

As according to the ASEAN chairman's statement which hosted by the Philippines in 2018, the association is still studying Timor Leste's application for membership.[23] Despite Singapore being historically opposing Timor-Leste's accession to the association due to economic reasons, the country began to openly stating they are welcoming the country's membership application when Timorese Prime Minister visited the latter.[24]

In June 2019, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his country support for Timor-Leste to become the 11th member of ASEAN ahead of a meeting with Timor-Leste Minister of Foreign Affairs Dionísio Babo.[25] Since Thailand took over the chairmanship of the association in 2019, Timor-Leste Foreign Affairs Minister Dionísio noted that a fact-finding mission has been formed to visit their country in September to determine their readiness in joining the association, adding that Brunei has given assurance to support the country's bid to join ASEAN, in which the latter hopes "it will happen sooner rather than later".[26] Further in July, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah reiterated their support for the country to join ASEAN during his meeting with Dionísio who was in Putrajaya for a visit in the same month, telling their country stand that Malaysia is always consistent to support Timor-Leste's admission into the association ever since the republic submitted its application in 2011.[27][28] Similar support were expressed by Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in the same month during the plenary session of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Bangkok, Thailand where she explained that "Indonesian support has been expressed many times even since the beginning, not only on political sense, but including through various assistance schemes to prepare and improve Timor-Leste capacity to meet the requirements in joining the association".[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b "East Timor Needs Five Years to Join ASEAN: PM". Secretary-General of ASEAN. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Political Parties and Groupings of Timor-Leste" (PDF). Australian Labor Party's International Projects Unit. May 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 December 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b Nyan Lynn Aung; Tim Mclaughlin (7 November 2013). "Timor Leste on the ASEAN waiting list". Myanmar Times. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  4. ^ Pia Lee Brago (14 January 2007). "France, East Timor sign non-aggression treaties with Asean". Associated Press. The Philippine Star. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  5. ^ "Timor-Leste wishes to join ASEAN in 5 years". Xinhua News Agency. 2 December 2005. Archived from the original on 26 August 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  6. ^ Hegel Goutier (2007). "Timor's key concern: preparing for ASEAN membership". The Courier (ACP-EU). Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  7. ^ "East Timor: Thailand to fund development of Timorese energy resources". Macau Hub. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2019. During the meeting, the Thai Prime Minister told Ramos-Horta that Thailand, as the current president of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), would support East Timor’s entry as a member of ASEAN in 2012.
  8. ^ Kate McGeown (4 March 2011). "East Timor applies to join Asean". BBC News. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Timor Leste remains steadfast to ASEAN aspiration". Secretary-General of ASEAN. 7 December 2012. Archived from the original on 12 December 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  10. ^ Brian Padden (29 March 2011). "Indonesia Supports East Timor's Bid to Join ASEAN". Voice of America. Archived from the original on 26 November 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Philippine Civil Society To Support Timor-Leste Bid for ASEAN Membership". Initiatives for International Dialogue. 7 June 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  12. ^ Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata (16 May 2013). "Timor-Leste poised to win ASEAN membership". Khabar Southeast Asia. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  13. ^ Hou Qiang (29 April 2013). "Timor Leste faces uphill to join ASEAN". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Singapore and the Philippines express support for Timor-Leste's bid for ASEAN membership after Official visits". Government of Timor-Leste. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  15. ^ Sally Piri (12 September 2013). "Timor Leste must wait for full ASEAN membership". The Brunei Times. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  16. ^ "S'pore won't block Timor Leste's bid to join ASEAN". The Brunei Times. 21 September 2013. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  17. ^ "Timor Leste is ready to join Asean grouping". Bernama. Daily Express. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  18. ^ Edmund Sim (29 April 2015). "Reviewing the 26th ASEAN Summit in Malaysia". The Diplomat. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  19. ^ "Timor-Leste continues to strengthen relations with the Philippines". Government of Timor-Leste. 17 December 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  20. ^ "ASEAN to pass on letting East Timor join grouping this year: Kyodo sources". Kyodo News. ABS-CBN News. 5 November 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  21. ^ Luke Hunt (27 May 2016). "East Timor Hopes for ASEAN Membership by 2017". The Diplomat. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  22. ^ Ferdinand Patinio (14 November 2017). "PH turns over ASEAN chairmanship to Singapore". Philippine News Agency. Philippine Canadian Inquirer. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  23. ^ "Timor Leste application for ASEAN membership still being studied – chairman's report". Interakyson. 16 November 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  24. ^ Angaindrankumar Gnanasagaran (5 January 2018). "Admitting ASEAN's 11th member". The ASEAN Post. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  25. ^ Ben Sokhean (4 June 2019). "Hun Sen backs Timor Leste Asean bid". Khmer Times. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  26. ^ Ain Bandial (6 July 2019). "Timor Leste says Brunei will support its bid to join ASEAN". The Scoop. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  27. ^ "Official Visit of Minister for Foreign Affairs and  Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Dr. Dionísio Da Costa Babo Soares to Malaysia 1 - 2 July 2019" (Press release). Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. 1 July 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  28. ^ "Malaysia consistent in its support for Timor Leste to join ASEAN". Bernama. The Sun. 11 July 2019. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
  29. ^ Yuni Arisandy Sinaga; Bambang Purwanto (2 August 2019). "Indonesia backs Timor Leste for membership in ASEAN". Antara. Retrieved 26 August 2019.
This page was last edited on 12 October 2019, at 21:38
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