La data de 8 decembrie 2011, cotidianul de limba indoneziana „Sinar Harapan” a publicat analiza presedintelui IRSEA privind evenimentul din Bali al ASEAN
The Romanian Institute for European – Asian Studies (IRSEA), Bucharest, Romania
(Romanian independent think-tank, working for a more robust interaction between Europe and Asia, founded in 2008– www.irsea.ro)
Commentary on Bali November 2011 high level events
By Ambassador(r) George SAVUICA
Bali hosted several summit meetings in November that drew the attention of the whole world. Certainly all summits, multilateral and bilateral within the framework of the existing new regional architecture in East and South East Asia, as well as the sideline meetings were of utmost importance.
However, two of them evolved as initiators of new visions. I refer to the 19th ASEAN Summit, which at the initiative of Indonesia, in general as the main player in ASEAN, and not in a limited sphere of being this year the Chair of ASEAN (it was a catalyst factor), was conducted on the theme “ASEAN in A Global Community of Nations” and produced the Bali Concord III on the ASEAN Community in the Global Community of Nations. According to President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Bali Concord III is “the spirit of participation and contribution of ASEAN for a more peaceful, more prosperous and more democratic world”. Indonesia is aiming to take ASEAN to a new height by proposing a common ASEAN platform on global issues.
The second event was the 6th East Asia Summit (EAS), having as participants for the first time the USA and Russia (the number of participants to this forum has as a result been increased from 16 to 18 countries), which adopted the DECLARATION OF THE EAST ASIA SUMMIT ON THE PRINCIPLES FOR MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONS. It is like a code of conduct in the presence in this region of these two world actors.
Judging on different and significant statements in the region and on the comments of many local political and economic analysts the presence of t the USA and Russia is welcomed, being considered as two new pillars in achieving the “dynamic equilibrium” in the region – Indonesia’s concept of maintaining peace and stability and guaranteeing the success of the integration process in East and South East Asia.
In my opinion, the “dynamic equilibrium” could be further consolidated by engaging also the European Union. In case the process is not of an immediate action, I would suggest trying to elaborate a kind of cooperation between ASIA EUROPE MEETING (ASEM) and EAS. My suggestion is based on the principle of the above mentioned EAS Declaration, which states the desire to enhance of mutually beneficial cooperation in the EAS and with other regional fora.
Before EAS and after, it is generally believed US’s participation will minimize China’s increasing “peaceful domination” of the EAS and the whole region. There is ground for such interpretation. Still, I would prefer to consider and hope that by maintaining this idea it will not lead to coming back to the cold war rhetoric. The US presence should be better viewed and pointed out as a vital participant at the regional efforts for integration in East and South East Asia, meant to achieve ASEAN Community and East Asia Community. All stakeholders are expected to cooperate and not to fight each other. At least, this is what wishes for East and South East Asia.
“We are fortunate that for the first time in a long time, relations among the major powers are marked by peace, stability and cooperation. But new power-centers are growing rapidly, and power relationships are changing, and becoming more fluid. It is pertinent that these evolving power relationships do not lead to new strategic tension, destabilizing rivalries, or worse, new conflicts. Instead, we must make sure that they lead to growing confidence, more cooperation, and even closer integration”, said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the APEC CEO Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii on Nov. 12 this year.
On the other hand, the cooperative security is optional for this region. ASEAN Summit and EAS have given positive thoughts in this direction.
The role of ASEAN as driving force in the entire process of building the regional architecture is or should in fact be the real balancing factor in East and South East Asia, particularly nowadays when all big powers are present in the aria. It is a very successful diplomatic achievement for Indonesia as host of this year EAS as well as for the other ASEAN countries to have inscribed the reassurance of main and vital role as driving force of ASEAN in the Declaration of the East Asia Summit on Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations.
There is talk for how long this role will be maintained. Some new regional initiatives, which are not concerning or not engaging ASEAN as a whole but only a few members of the Association, have already been activated as is the case of the US led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, including US, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Naturally, this ever lasting role depends on ASEAN current and future deeds. The achievement by 2015 of the ASEAN Community with its three pillars and post 2015 strategy are more than a must.
In the wider East Asia Summit concept, if ASEAN really wants to maintain its centrality, it needs to strengthen its internal cohesion and deliver benefits to its members. 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.
I agree with the public expressed opinion of the CSIS executive director Rizal Sukma, that ASEAN must introduce a sanctions mechanism in implementing the ASEAN agenda.
Another topic seriously being debated in the region refers to the internationalization or no internationalization of the South China Sea. I observed that one of the principles of the Declaration of the EAS participating countries for friendly and mutually beneficial relations is the respect for International law. I do not think I shall be mistaken if I connect it with the situation in the South China Sea and say that the internationalization tendency appears to be consolidated. At the same time, other principles underline non-interference in the internal affairs of another country and renunciation of the threat of use of force or use of force against another state, consistent with the UN Charter. The “dynamic equilibrium” has already performed!This is really a good and promising feature.
It does not mean that the internationalization or no internationalization of the South China Sea will not continue to generate different points of view. It will be linked with the question to accept or not to accept outside forces to become part of the solution. I, for one, can not foresee the time of solving the conflicts in the South China Sea by adding new ingredients of internationalization. It seems that bilateral negotiations could be the surest way to a solution. The South China Sea case is, in my view, more a bilateral or regional matter. I support and congratulate the EAS Declaration on friendly and mutually beneficial relations for its accepted principle to settle the differences and disputes by peaceful means.
ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) could be very well widening to East Asia Maritime Forum to invite China and other countries. In parallel, the ASEAN Community might be enriched with a new pillar, i.e. the ASEAN Maritime Community.
IRSEA will continue to follow the developments in East and South East Asia with great interest. They deserve all attention due to the fact that we talk now about an ASEAN engaged in a GlobalCommunity.
The author is the President of IRSEA and a specialist on South East Asia, speaking Bahasa Indonesia and former Ambassador to Indonesia, Pakistan and Charge d’Affaires to Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cyprus and Finland/Estonia