ASEAN Foreign Ministers have approved the six-point principles on the East Sea after direct consultations with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Cambodia, reiterating solidarity and consensus as decisive factors behind the regional grouping’s strength.
Indonesian FM Marty Natalegawa (L) held talks with Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong. Source: VOVNEWS
Peace, stability, security, and maritime safety in the East Sea are common concerns of ASEAN members and others in the region and the world at large. Realising the importance of East Sea issues, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa started a round of shuttle diplomacy to regional countries last week to lay the groundwork for the bloc’s joint statement.
In an international press briefing in Phnom Penh on July 20, Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong announced ASEAN’s six-point principles on the East Sea.
The Foreign Ministers reaffirmed ASEAN members’ commitment to the 6 principles including the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea; the full respect of the universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; continued exercise of self-restraint and non-use of force by all parties; and peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said ‘The ASEAN Foreign Ministers are determined to intensify ASEAN consultations in the advancement of the above principles, consistent with the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and the 2008 ASEAN Charter’.
The announcement of a joint communiqué has dispelled a suspicion of differences among the members that has lingered since the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting concluded a week ago without releasing a joint communiqué.
ASEAN now appears united and ready to continue its central role in dealing with regional ‘hot’ issues. The principles show a consensus among all 10 ASEAN member countries on East Sea issues. The principles hold that violations will affect ASEAN, and that despite any differences they are able to find a common voice in matters of common interest.
Vietnam’s stance is consistent – its national interests can’t be isolated from regional interests. Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said not only maritime countries but all in the bloc should try harder to maintain peace in the East Sea.
“We must ensure international law will be respected with regard to national sovereignty and settlement of disputes without the use of armed forces,” said Vinh. “ASEAN should use all available means and forums relating to politics, security, and cooperation for regional development. These include the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in South East Asia, the Treaty for a Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea’.
The six-point principles are another consensus of ASEAN in its way to building a community by 2015./.