Duterte ready to bring faraway Turkey, Mongolia into ASEAN

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Duterte ready to bring faraway Turkey, Mongolia into ASEAN

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday that he was ready to sponsor the supposed entry to ASEAN of Turkey and Mongolia, countries which are very far from Southeast Asia. PCOO/Released

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte said that he was ready to “sponsor” the supposed entry of Mongolia and Turkey into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) even if the two countries are not in Southeast Asia.

During his press conference upon arriving from his trips to Cambodia, Hong Kong and China, the president claimed that Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan and Mongolia Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenebat wanted the Philippines to sponsor their countries’ entry to the regional group during their talks on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China.

“By the way I had a talk with Erdogan and the Prime Minister of…Mongolia. They also want to — gusto nila na magsali sa ASEAN and since I am the chair...  ang Pilipinas, they wanted me to sponsor their entry. I said yes, why not?," the president said.

Duterte’s plan was apparently questioned by Aung San Suu Kyi, the state counselor of Myanmar. 

“Si Aung San Su Kyi ang sabi niya, ‘Have you considered the physical geography whether they are part of the ASEAN or not,’” Duterte recalled.

The president, possibly unfamiliar with geography or with ASEAN rules, confidently answered the Myanmar leader: “They are. I would say they are. Turkey seems to be ambivalent whether to be a bridge of Europe and Asia or being an Asian. Wala silang klaro. There has always been an ambivalent view. Sometimes they say they are part of Asia, sometimes they say they are the bridge of Asia to Europe.”

ASEAN has 10 member-states in Southeast Asia. These countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ASEAN charter

Based on Article 6 of the ASEAN charter, admission of new members is based on several criteria, one of which is “location in the recognized geographical region of Southeast Asia.”

Turkey serves as a bridge between Europe and Asia while Mongolia is sandwiched by Russia and China.  Neither country has ever been considered part of Southeast Asia.

The group is celebrating its 50th foundation anniversary, and the Philippines is this year’s chairman.

Aside from its ten members, the regional group also holds meeting with dialogue partners called ASEAN Plus Three (with China, Japan and South Korea) and has a leadership position in the East Asia Summit, which includes the ASEAN and partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand, the US and Russia.

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