BANGKOK, 27 November 2009 (NNT) – The ASEAN’s Secretary-General suggested that ASEAN member countries should consider the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) more imnportant than cross-border conflicts derived from concepts of nation states.
Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of the ASEAN, said that cross border conflicts between ASEAN member countries has caused regional discord and delayed the establishment of the AEC.
He explained that colonialism brought the concept of a nation state into the region. The concept forced ASEAN countries to consider territorial borders seriously and led to nationalism. He said that this was an origin of cross border conflicts and suggested that the region needed to look back before colonialism.
“Our ancestors would not care about the exact boundary back then. Why do we have to fight for the boundary when we still care and share together?” Dr Surin questioned.
The Secretary-General, 57, stated that the concept was too new to the region where human control was more important than boundary accuracy. ASEAN as a cultural community was not ready to adapt to the concept.
He said that the reason why Thailand had more cross-border problems came from its location in a central position. Thailand has over 5,000 km of borders with 4 countries. This is the longest in the region. Only 56 km has been ratified by the Thai national legislature. The rest has been under control of committees.
Dr Surin emphasized that looking beyond border and colonialism mentality was one way for ASEAN to move forward to being a single community. He said that “there is still a community when boundaries becomes meaningless.” However, Dr Surin mentioned that to move forwards the region should have a similar economic level to the EU.
“It would be easier if each country’s economy is not much different. What is left is to create a mutual feeling of a single community among our people”, Dr Surin said.
Dr Surin hoped that the AC would be a rule-based community as expected. He said that if every country tried to work together it would reduce conflicts in the long run.
“ASEAN now has a dispute mechanism in the charter. For political issues, ASEAN member countries have signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) with other developed countries to provide all possible assistance to disputing parties”, Dr Surin said.
News ID: 255211270034