By Gheorghe SAVUICA
- 1. The Author grew up together with ASEAN. He started his diplomatic career as a specialist on South East - Asia, speaking Bahasa, in the same month and year of ASEAN’S creation, i.e. August 1967. His first important diplomatic paper has been the draft presentation of ASEAN for the Romanian Highest Authorities alongside with the proposal on Romania’s position on this new economic regional entity, which was different comparing with other socialist countries of the time.
- 2. The regional and international circumstances in the year ASEAN was born
The South-East Asian countries during the cold war were concerned with ensuring sovereignty, independence and national survival. Nonetheless their choice was to refuse to arrange their development as emerging forces on military block concept. ASEAN was created as an Association, with a loose status, based on the predominant features in the aria – dialogue and consultation. The South-East Asia is a region of diversity from many points of view. No wonder, the unity in diversity is the driving force of their regional cooperation.
ASEAN was created when the nonalignment was in full spring and its principles are part of the founding document of ASEAN and of other later important documents of the Association.
- 3. Gradual development
ASEAN has passed through three important steps: exclusive economic regional organization; primarily economic regional organization with added political, security and social –cultural dimensions; and regional organization in full process of political, security, economic and socio-cultural integration.
- 4. ASEAN Community by 2015
This reality will represent a significant component of the new regional architecture and the main pillar for maintaining the well to-day recognized role of ASEAN as driving force for integration in this part of the world, replacing the miracle of “Asian Tigers” and in parallel with other emerging economies, as single entities, such as China, India and Brazil, a new phenomenon will appear in this region, in a certain way similar but not identical to the one existing in Europe, i.e. an emerging institutionalized political and economic power at regional level.
ASEAN is the pillar of stability in East and South East Asia and one of the foundations of regional balance. The signing of the ASEAN Charter, the bilateral and multilateral dialogue partnerships established with major international players and ASEAN Free Trade Arias constitute the important catalysts in this direction.
- 5. ASEAN’s cohesion based on Indonesia’s vision of the “dynamic equilibrium”
Indonesia played and continues to play an important and main role in ASEAN and in the process of integration in South East Asia. It is in fact the driving force. Indonesia is aiming to take ASEAN to a new height by proposing a common ASEAN platform on global issues.
Indonesia has been taken as an example for an emerging economy in South East Asia, which is an added value to the creation of the ASEAN Community by 2015, having in mind that this is the single country from this region which became member of G-20 and which appears on all lists of markets or emerging groups elaborated by eminent economic analysts from different countries as well as from specialized international organizations. However, one should not minimize the importance in this equation of the other ASEAN member countries.
Indonesia launched the concept of “dynamic equilibrium” regarding the power relationships in the region.
- 6. Mutual approaching tendency between Europe and Asia.
The fruitful historical bilateral dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Asia as well as the EU- ASEAN partnership have recently developed into a continent to continent approach. This tendency was shaped into a more or less institutionalized form by creating the Asia Europe Meeting – ASEM. In spite of difficulties, differences and sometime disappointments, this reality will stand and consolidate, being a good example of coexistence under an ever more globalized climate, with interdependent markets and globalized industries.
- 7. Romania has to accelerate its position of accommodating to the developments in South East Asia
The status of Romania as an EU member – one of the important dialogue partners of ASEAN, and participant at ASEM forum has opened new horizons for promoting and consolidating its bilateral and multilateral relationship with the South East Asian countries. Unfortunately, it continues to remain more visible the “traditional relations”, invoked with different intensity based on the occasional interests of Bucharest. With other words, it is missing a vision at least on a medium term regarding Romania’s concurrently individual engagement in the context of creation the ASEAN Community, and in general in ASEAN projects. It is hopeful that at least Bucharest is analyzing the ways to tackle the multiplication of FTA in Asia, having in mind that eventually an EU –ASEAN FTA will be formed.
- 8. Conclusions
I am a strong believer that ASEAN is a well-functioning and indispensable reality in the region and far beyond the region. ASEAN is the driving force in the regional multilateral architecture. ASEAN is the pillar of stability in East and South East Asia and one of the foundations of regional balance. There is talk for how long this role will be maintained. Naturally, this everlasting role, in my opinion, depends on ASEAN current and future deeds.One should take into consideration that ASEAN needs a lot more efforts to cope with the additional items on the regional agenda. Deciding the top priorities is even more complicated, particularly if the matter of taking sides might come up.
The consensus at ASEAN meetings played a vital role in the growing up process of the Association. Nowadays we witness a shift from full consensus to coalition of wiling, but still not imposing the decisions.The mediation and conciliation remain the essential ways to solve the entire spectrum of integration and conflict resolution in the region. ASEAN countries have not given up the classic diplomacy adapted to the new environment.
The day will come when ASEAN will realize the must to introduce a sanctions mechanism in implementing its agenda
* Gheorghe SAVUICA is a specialist on South East Asia, speaking Bahasa.He graduated the Moscow Institute of International Relations. He was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Pakistan and Indonesia and Charge d’Affaires a.i., with Letter of Cabinet, to Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cyprus and Finland/Estonia. By retiring on pension, in 2006, after 40 years of diplomatic activity, he founded the Romanian Institute for European – Asian Studies (IRSEA) in the capacity as President.