Turkey keen to join ASEAN as dialogue partner

National 1 minute, 31 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

TURKEY has reiterated its strong desire to become a full dialogue partner of ASEAN despite a moratorium on adding new partners, said Turkey's first resident ambassador to Brunei.

"In 1999, Turkey made a decision to develop a relationship with ASEAN and announced its intention to become a dialogue partner," said newly-appointed envoy Oğuz Ateş.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, he added that his country has shown commitment to engaging with ASEAN by acceding to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2010, which he said will lay the groundwork for a sectoral, but not full, partnership.

ASEAN has 10 dialogue partners - namely the EU, Canada, the United States, China, Russia, Australia, Japan, Korea, India and New Zealand - which attend several ASEAN-led meetings every year. Pakistan is the grouping's only sectoral partner.

Turkey - which has the 16th largest economy in the world - traditionally has strong ties with the EU, Russia and the central Asian republics but is looking to expand its outlook eastward towards Asia-Pacific.

Turkey's exports to European countries are much higher compared to other countries - around $60 billion - yet exports to Asian countries are increasing steadily as with exports at more than $10 billion last year, according to latest figures.

Ateş said there was a myriad of opportunities to be reaped, with trade, tourism and investment just some of the areas the two could cooperate on.

"We believe it will be in their benefit to improve relations with Turkey... because of Turkey's strategic location - it is close to the Middle East, the Caucasus, Russia and the EU."

"[There is a possibility of a bridge] to make joint investments, particularly in the case of Brunei, to reach out to these markets. This is where Turkey can be instrumental as a gateway," he added.

The Brunei Times