ASEAN nations must put up united front
April 15, 2013
INDONESIAN Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has stressed the need for ASEAN members to maintain a united front when addressing international issues after bitter disagreements rocked the 10-member bloc last year.
"ASEAN can only influence developments if we are strong, united and one...We need to be on the same page," he said, in reference to maritime disputes in South China Sea and escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Last year, ASEAN members failed to reach a consensus on how to deal with territorial disputes in the South China Sea where Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia have overlapping claims with China until last-ditch diplomatic efforts from Indonesia was able to forge a common position among the 10 countries.
In an interview in the capital last week, Marty said political unity was key to forging ahead with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) an initiative that would make the region a single market and production base by the deadline of 2015.
"There are several issues that stand out in the political-security field the issue of managing conflict areas, human rights, democraticisation, the AEC economic scorecard, a people-centred ASEAN. All which contribute to achieving the ASEAN community 2015," he remarked.
"While ASEAN is focused on community building for 2015 the world is not standing still, on the contrary the world and the region is becoming more dynamic, so we must strengthen our efforts to respond accordingly."
The minister said while he feels ASEAN is on track to achieve a integrated region by 2015, there was still room for improvement.
"We were able to review the state of ASEAN community building... All the three pillars were reviewed political security, socio-cultural, as well as economic. We are on track. Of course there are areas where special efforts need to be made but we are making that progress."
"I would like to emphasise how important the series of meetings to take place in Brunei this year," he said. "We are only two years away from the ASEAN community so we are in Brunei's capable hands to take us from where we are to where we want to be.