President Rodrigo Duterte is ready to sponsor the intention of Turkey and Mongola to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
“Yes, why not?” Duterte said even if both countries are not in Southeast Asia.
While in China, Duterte said Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulgyn Erdenebat and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to him on separate occasions about joining the Asean.
“They want to join Asean and since I’m the chairman, the Philippines. They want me to sponsor their entry. And I said, ‘Yes, why not?’” Duterte, this year’s chair of Asean, added. Duterte visited China from May 13 to 15 to participate in the Road and Belt Forum. He arrived in Davao City’s airport early yesterday morning.
The President said he had also mentioned the possible membership of the two countries in Asean to Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi but the latter questioned their qualifications.
“She said, ‘Have you considered the physical geography whether they are part of the Asean or not?’ They are. I would say that they are,” Duterte said.
“Turkey seems to be ambivalent whether to be a bridge of Europe and Asia or being an Asian. They are not clear there. They have always been an ambivalent view. Sometimes, they say that they are part of Asia. Sometimes, they say that they are the bridge of Asia to Europe,” the President added.
Todate, there are 10 Asean member-states -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The 31st Asean summit will be held in Clark, Pampanga in November this year.
Asean groups the 10 Southeast Asian nations. Under the Asean Charter, admission into Asean is based on several criteria, among them, “location in the recognized geographical region of Southeast Asia.”
The two countries are considered to be straddling Europe and Asia, nowhere near Southeast Asia. Mongolia is bordered by China and Russia.
There are countries that are either on observer status in Asean or dialogue partners of the regional bloc, a market of over 600 million people.
Papua New Guinea has been an Asean observer since 1976, along with Timor Leste, which applied for Asean membership in 2011.
There are 10 countries that are dialogue partners of Asean: Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States. Efren Montano