Dr. Ioan Voicu, Visiting Professor at Assumption University, Bangkok and the former Romanian Ambassador to Thailand responded to SIIA Chairman Simon Tay’s commentary on ASEAN and the South China Sea. This article was originally published in The Nation (Thailand) on 5 August 2012.
Simon Tay raises a fundamental question in his article about divisions within Asean by correctly pointing out that the lack of unity in this organization risks denting its credibility as host for dialogues that span not just its own region but a wider footprint, like the newly created East Asia Summit (EAS). That could, indeed, negatively affect ASEAN’s centrality in the EAS.
Therefore, the time is ripe to use the existing reservoir of diplomatic skills to find workable solutions. This is not an easy task, as the region is confronted with numerous challenges that are multifaceted, multidimensional and inter-linked. To address them, genuine collective resolve is necessary. But on what basis?
By the consensus document entitled “Declaration of the 6th EAS on the Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations”, dated November 19, 2011, the 10 members of Asean, as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the USA, reiterated their commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and other recognized principles of international law. All 18 EAS participating countries declared themselves willing to create a peaceful environment to further enhance cooperation and strengthen the existing bonds of friendship among them. In keeping with the principles of equality, partnership, consultation and mutual respect, all are expected to contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world.
From this perspective, it should also be recalled that the first specific principle stipulated in the Declaration is the enhancement of mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity.
Acting in strict conformity with the Declaration is crucial in order to avoid damaging strategic miscalculations in the region, with dangerous consequences at the planetary level.
Dr. Ioan Voicu’s response is available here: Avoiding strategic miscalculations (The Nation, 5 August 2012)