Australia, New Zealand vow to enhance ties with ASEAN

MANILA — The top envoys of Australia and New Zealand are looking forward to a better relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which is expected to be discussed during their respective Ministerial Meetings with delegates from the regional bloc on Sunday.

With this, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop vowed to closely work with the ASEAN to help maintain a peaceful and prosperous region.

“In this challenging strategic environment, the role that a strong and united ASEAN must play in support of the rules based order, dialogue and respect for international law is greater than ever. As a near neighbor and ASEAN’s longest standing partner, Australia will work even more closely with the ASEAN to support our shared interests in a peaceful and prosperous region,” she said in her opening remarks at the start of their meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.

“ASEAN has long supported and maintained the rule of law, it is sort to shape a region where might is not right and where inclusiveness is the norm. The interest of all nations, large and small are protected by international rules based order,” Bishop added.

She also acknowledged the efforts of the ASEAN, noting that their country benefitted from it.

“Australia is a beneficiary of a strong and resilient ASEAN and will continue to be a vocal partner with and advocate for ASEAN and its objectives,” the Australian Foreign Minister said.

Likewise, Bishop cited the achievements of ASEAN, who is celebrating its 50th year anniversary this year.

“This is a landmark 50th anniversary year for ASEAN. We can reflect on ASEAN’s achievements over the past five decades which have been truly remarkable. It has hoped to deliver peace, security and cohesion to this region. It’s been a strong catalyst for economic cooperation and integration hoping to transform Southeast Asia into a global economic power with a combined GDP of around US.5 Trillion,” she said.

Bishop added, “ASEAN has underpinned the development of diplomatic architecture that brings the region together to manage strategic risks. Australia’s relationship with ASEAN, from our perspective, has never been in better shape. ASEAN is Australian’s third largest trading partner, our people to people, education and tourism links has substantial and growing.”

She noted that the cooperation will help face issues besetting the region.

“A partnership made even more important by the increasingly contested and complex strategic environment. North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions is a direct threat to us all,” Bishop said.

“Territorial disputes in the South China Sea destabilizing and an increasing tension between nations. The threat of terrorism, violent extremism transcends national boundaries directly threatening regional security as we’re seeing in Marawi,” she furthered.

For his part, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee acknowledged the holding of Ministerial Meetings as a method to discuss issues involving security and how they will go about it.

“In the 1970s, New Zealand diplomat suggested that New Zealand was putting its money on ASEANwith regards to its hope for regional instability. If you think about a type of conflict that the region was dealing with back in those years then it must surely make difficulties that we have enough security since today much more manageable and to have such an established dialogue-forum I think will help enormously in that,” he said in his opening remarks.

“We see there has been a particularly important body to represent the aspirations of a region of the world, that over the history of 50 years has become progressively more economically important to the rest of the world, but also achieved an enormous amount for people who live in this part of the world,” Brownlee added.

He also commended the efforts of those who were part of a forum held in Indonesia last week against extremists.

“I want to congratulate Indonesia for the forum held last week, I attended that I think it was extremely valuable because it does send serious commitment to the eradication of radical terrorism to those who’d be its perpetrators,” the New Zealand’s Foreign Minister added.

With this, he acknowledged the Philippines for being a good host of the international event.

“Can I conclude my opening remarks by congratulating the Philippines for being such a splendid host but also for providing a surge work force into my home study of Christchurch at the time when we needed to rebuild post the disaster, earthquakes we hit there a few years ago,” Brownlee said. Ferdinand Patinio/