Promising future of ASEAN, Türkiye relations: Op-ed

Promising future of ASEAN, Türkiye relations: Op-ed

Apirat Sugondhabhirom, Meas Kim Heng
Promising future of ASEAN, Türkiye relations: Op-ed

8th August 2022 marks an important occasion of the 55th anniversary of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), an intergovernmental organization of 10 member states in Southeast Asia (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam), founded in Bangkok in 1967. Meanwhile, 5th August represents a significant milestone for the 5th anniversary of Türkiye-ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partnership, approved in Manila in 2017. The closer ties between ASEAN and Türkiye will be beneficial in responding to challenges and seizing new opportunities in the rapidly changing geopolitical and economic landscape.

ASEAN’s importance in global landscape

ASEAN, conceived as a political union of five founding nations for peace and stability in the region, has evolved into a regional community that encompasses three key dimensions, political-security, economic and social-cultural, with the core spirit of “One Vision, One Identity, One Community.” ASEAN is one of the fastest growing regions in the world.
Effective from Jan. 1, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world-largest trading bloc, has strengthened ASEAN position as a gateway to the market of 2.2 billion people and $26.2 trillion of global output, covering about 30 percent of the world population. RCEP comprises 10 ASEAN countries and five Asia-Pacific countries (China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand), firmly putting ASEAN as an attractive region for global business communities.

ASEAN-Türkiye sectoral dialogue partnership is an important framework for strengthening the ties between ASEAN and Türkiye. The partnership’s wide-ranging coverage of issues allows both sides to work together to address regional and global challenges as well as to focus on areas of mutual interests, from tourism, renewable energy, science and technology to trade and investment. These include development cooperation, in which Türkiye has established the ASEAN-Türkiye Fund (ATF) at the ASEAN Secretariat and provided its initial contribution in the amount of USD 1 million in December 2019 and about USD 690,000 in April 2021.

As ASEAN Vision 2025 stresses on its aspiration to become an outward-looking community, enhancing its external relations by closely engaging with Türkiye is important to realize the said vision. In June 2022, ASEAN and Türkiye renewed their commitment to further strengthen their cooperation at the fourth meeting of the ASEAN-Türkiye Joint Sectoral Cooperation Committee. The recent trilateral ministerial meeting on Aug. 3 also highlighted the progress made and set out its future direction.

ASEAN’s important place in Türkiye’s foreign policy is well-acknowledged in its Asia Anew Initiative announced in 2019, which aims to re-energize Türkiye’s relations with Asia. There is a great deal of potential for closer cooperation under the sectoral dialogue partnership framework and the Asia Anew Initiative, bearing in mind Türkiye’s place in the Asia-Europe region and the world.

Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2022

This year, Cambodia is assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship under the theme “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together.” Cambodia’s priorities are built on past achievements and focus on intensifying ASEAN’s efforts to realize the goals of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration as well as the development of ASEAN Community’s Post-2025 Vision.
Cambodia attaches great importance to enhancing ASEAN-Türkiye relations. Early this month, Cambodia hosted the Trilateral Meeting in Phnom Penh with the participation of His Excellency Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye, ASEAN Secretary-General, and Cambodia as the ASEAN Chair, in which all sides reaffirmed the commitment to reinvigorating ASEAN-Türkiye relations.

The AAC, comprising eight ASEAN Embassies in Ankara (except Myanmar and Laos) is one of the 55 ASEAN Committees in Third Countries and international organizations which are established to promote ASEAN’s interests and identity in their respective host countries. The AAC, through various cultural, governmental, and economic activities, has continuously raised awareness about ASEAN in Türkiye and contributed to strengthening the ASEAN-Türkiye relations over the years.

Thailand, as the rotational chair of the AAC for July-December 2022, will continue the good works of previous chairmanships. To commemorate the 5th Anniversary of ASEAN-Türkiye sectoral dialogue partnership and the 55th anniversary of ASEAN, the AAC, together with Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye and other agencies, will jointly organize wide-ranging activities for “ASEAN Week” in autumn 2022, details of which will be later announced.
In conclusion, in the month of August 2022, we celebrate the 5th year of the ASEAN-Türkiye partnership. During this half a decade of friendship, numbers of collaborations have been completed. These are the assurance of future stronger tie.
Together, ASEAN and Türkiye can join hands to overcome any challenges, tap into the vast opportunities, and achieve our shared goals, as well as to play a responsible and constructive role globally.

*Apirat Sugondhabhirom is Ambassador of Thailand and Chair of the ASEAN Ankara Committee, and Meas Kim Heng is Ambassador of Cambodia and Representative of the Kingdom of Cambodia, ASEAN Chair for 2022

TURKEY, Diplomacy,