Duterte on Turkey, Mongolia joining ASEAN: 'Yes, why not?'
MANILA, Philippines – Even if Turkey and Mongolia are not in Southeast Asia, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday, May 16, that he is ready to "sponsor" the supposed desired entry of the two countries into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In a news conference upon his arrival in Davao City early Tuesday morning, Duterte volunteered that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdeneba made the request to him when they met on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China. (READ: Duterte meets Turkey's Erdogan in Beijing)
He said they made the request to him since the Philippines is this year's ASEAN chair.
"Gusto nila magsali sa ASEAN (They want to join ASEAN). And since I am now the chair, ang Pilipinas ngayon (it's the Philippines as chair now), they wanted me to sponsor that entry and I said, 'Yes, why not?'" he said.
Apparently, his plan was politely questioned by Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counselor of Myanmar, a member of ASEAN, who was also at the Beijing event.
"The woman, Aung San Suu Kyi, she said, 'Have you considered the physical – the geography whether they are part of ASEAN or not?'" Duterte recalled in a mix of English and Filipino.
Duterte said he responded: "They are. I would say that they are. Turkey, it seems to be ambivalent to whether to be a bridge sa (to) Europe and Asia or being an Asian. Wala silang klaro diyan (There is nothing definite there.) There has 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."
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." (READ: LOOK BACK: How ASEAN was formed)
Turkey, which straddles Europe and Asia, is 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 9 countries that are dialogue partners of ASEAN: Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the United States. The European Union is a dialogue partner as well. – Rappler.com