Turkey’s Relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Turkey regards ASEAN as the most important framework of cooperation in the region. With its combined GDP amounting to the 7th biggest economy in the world, the 4th largest trading entity and with a dynamic population of around 650 million, and located in the middle of strategic sea routes, ASEAN is the key regional organization and an important actor in its region.

It is not possible for countries outside the region to become a member of ASEAN. On the other hand, the Association has declared a moratorium on Dialogue Partnership, which is the highest level of institutional relations with third countries.

Turkey’s ultimate objective for developing its relations with ASEAN is to achieve Dialogue Partnership. However, since the moratorium is still in effect with no sign of lifting, Turkey has applied to become a Sectoral Dialogue Partner (SDP) with ASEAN in 2015 in order not to lose the momentum of relations.

Turkey is granted the status of Sectoral Dialogue Partner of ASEAN at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 5 August 2017 in Manila, where H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey was also present by the invitation of the Philippines as the host country.

Turkey’s decision to establish institutional ties with ASEAN dates back to 1999. Taking the first step for institutional cooperation, Turkey became a signatory of the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) on 23 July 2010 during the 43rd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Vietnam.

Turkish Ambassador in Jakarta was accredited to ASEAN the same year.

Turkey was invited to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meetings as the guest of ASEAN Chair Brunei in 2013 for the first time. Former Prime Minister H.E. Ahmet Davutoğlu, then in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, has participated in this meeting. Turkey was invited to the 47th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2014 by the ASEAN Chair Myanmar. Turkey was represented by former Deputy Minister of Development H.E. Mehmet Ceylan due to the Presidential elections held in Turkey in the same period.

Turkey’s bilateral ties with ASEAN countries are also developing. Turkey’s trade volume with ASEAN countries rose from 1,3 billion USD in 2002 and surpassed 8,7 billion USD in 2016. After the Turkish Embassy in Vientiane (Lao PDR) is opened, Turkey will have diplomatic representation in all 10 member countries of ASEAN.

Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) has been very active in providing development assistance through various projects in the region which cost nearly 147,8 million USD between 2005 and 2015.

In addition, Turkey has obtained an observer status in the multinational police force of ASEAN in 2014.