European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday signed the Instrument of Accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), with ten ASEAN Foreign Ministers simultaneously signing the Instrument of Extension to agree to the EU's accession from the ASEAN side.
"I am absolutely delighted to have signed the Instrument of accession of the European Union to the TAC today, Ashton said after signing the treaty along with her ASEAN counterparts in the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh on Thursday
"This is an important step because it commits us to working together in tackling issues that we face in a peaceful way. It also confirms that we will work together to address some of the security and political concerns of the region," she added.
The TAC is a non-aggression and cooperation pact between ASEAN members and their partners, and is a precondition for membership of the East Asia Summit. The treaty was initially signed in February 1976 by the leaders of the then-members of ASEAN (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines).
The treaty was subsequently signed by the five other nations which joined the ASEAN regional grouping later, including Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei.
Currently, the parties to the TAC include the 10 ASEAN member states as well as Papua New Guinea, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Australia, France, East Timor, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, North Korea, the United States, Turkey and Canada. Brazil and the UK are expected to become members soon.
The EU had lodged an application to accede to the TAC on 7 December 2006. The process of accession took long because ASEAN had to amend - through a Third Protocol - the Treaty to enable "regional organizations" to accede. This Protocol has been signed in 2010, and entered into force on 12 June 2012.
by RTT Staff Writer
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