Singapore. East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta has said it would be symbolic for his fledgling country to gain Asean membership next year when former occupier Indonesia takes over as chair of the regional bloc.
“If it is under Indonesia and Timor-Leste joins Asean as the 11th member at the summit in Jakarta in November 2011, it would elevate Indonesia’s statesmanship, it would elevate Asean,” he said.
“So we are determined and working towards membership in Asean,” he told a forum organized by the Asia office of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies on Wednesday.
Indonesia will assume the revolving chairmanship of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2011. As chair, it will host the group’s annual summit and related meetings, and steer the year’s agenda.
Ramos-Horta said Asean members had voiced support for East Timor’s bid to join the bloc. “Of course there are questions about stability in Timor and can we deliver on commitments like attending meetings,” he added.
“We believe that more important is that we join now and then have a five-year period whereby we take steps, with Asean support, to fulfill any obligations, criteria that are still missing at the time that we are joining Asean.”