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Thayer ASEAN Unity Restored by Shuttle Diplomacy?

Thayer ASEAN Unity Restored by Shuttle Diplomacy?

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Published by Carlyle Alan Thayer
An assesment of Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa's shuttle diplomacy to restore ASEAN credibility after the failure of its most recent ministerial meeting to issue a joint communique due to differences over how to describe events in the South China Sea.
An assesment of Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa's shuttle diplomacy to restore ASEAN credibility after the failure of its most recent ministerial meeting to issue a joint communique due to differences over how to describe events in the South China Sea.

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Published by: Carlyle Alan Thayer on Jul 25, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/25/2012

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Background Briefing:ASEAN Unity Restored byShuttle Diplomacy?Carlyle A. ThayerJuly 24, 2012
[client name deleted]
 
We request your assessment of 
“ASEAN Unity” after w
hat happened in Cambodialast week.Q1. Was the failure to release a joint-statement after the ASEAN Ministerial Meetingin Phnom Penh last week an indication of a rift in ASEAN unity? If so, why?ANSWER: What happened at the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Retreat was the firsttime in forty-five years that ASEAN could not paper over differences among itsmembers in a Joint Communique. ASEAN members have always had differing views,sometimes quite serious. Cambodia stood alone in opposing any reference to
Scarborough Shoal and China’s intrusion into Vietnam’s and the Philippines’
Exclusive Economic Zones and continental shelves.Q2. What were the major reasons behind this failure, in your views?ANSWER: The major reason was that Cambodia, as ASEAN Chair, refused to allowany mention of Scarborough Shoal and EEZs and continental shelves. In the
ministers’ discussion Cambodia twice threatened to withhold the joint communique
in order to pressure Vietnam and the Philippines. Vietnam and the Philippines weresupported by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. When an emergency meeting washeld afterwards Indonesia and Singapore brokered a compromise that Vietnam and
the Philippines agreed to. When the compromise wording was taken to Cambodia’s
foreign minister he refused to consider it and walked out of the meeting. Foreignobservers report that Cambodia was in close consultation with China. It is hard toavoid the conclusion that Cambodia put its relations with China higher than ASEANsolidarity and unity.Q3. With his ongoing shuttle diplomacy to ASEAN countries, Indonesian ForeignMinister Marty Natalegawa is trying to get ASEAN members closer again and savethe unity among ASEAN members. Do you think his efforts will achieve successful?Why?ANSWER: Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa was successful in getting all foreign
ministers to agree to “ASEAN’s Six Point Principles on the South China Sea.” This has
several positive effects. It served to boost ASEAN morale after the disappointment of the previous week. It sent a reassuring message of ASEAN unity to foreign countries.
Thayer Consultancy
ABN # 65 648 097 123

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