Tuesday, April 10, 2007

East Timor Wants in...to the Commonwealth, but Needs to Wait on its Own Backyard of ASEAN

The former Portuguese colony of East Timor is currently voting in what will prove to be a historical election, in the sense that election observers not just from the UN, but from Japan and other ASEAN countries will be present to observe proceedings--as will, predictably, the EU.

According to an article on the ASEAN website, East Timor became an observer to the ten-grouping regional bloc of ASEAN in 2002, but joined its regional security forum-ASEAN regional forum, considered...

Asia's top security discussion group that includes the foreign ministers of the United States, China, Russia and the European Union...

in 2005.

The article goes on to maintain that East Timor needs a good five years before it joins ASEAN. This is, at least, what then Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, now running for President in the country, said last year.

Ramos-Horta only recently appealed, according to New Zealand Herald's website of 7 April, for New Zealand's premier Helen Clark to

...keep its troops in the tiny nation for years if he wins Monday's election.

Apart from calling for the UN to stay, Ramos-Horta has gone and said that he wants East Timor to join the Commonwealth, despite the country not having been a former colony of the British.

He maintains

"My strategy is to get Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and India to endorse it."

Most interesting, equally, is his statement that East Timor feels isolated by not being a member of ASEAN, a telling statement about the potential bandwagoning that smaller countries may be prompted to do in the face of increasing "regionalisation" of the world into blocs:

"East Timor is in the anomalous position of not being part of a regional organisation such as Asean, despite the fact it is part of the Indonesian archipelago, and it is not part of the Pacific Islands Forum either. So it can end up a little isolated."


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