By Ecenur Colak and Cansu Dikme
Ambassadors of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have welcomed Turkey’s “multi-dimensional” foreign policy.
A. Selvarajah, Singapore’s ambassador to Turkey, in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Tuesday, said: “In the past, Turkey has focused on its European accession and European membership. But today Turkey wants to also look beyond Europe to other parts of the world.”
“Turkey’s strategy of having a multi-dimensional foreign policy is kindly welcomed by the ASEAN countries, and also this decision to apply for sectoral dialogue partnership [with the bloc],” he added.
His remarks came after a ceremony held at the Indonesian ambassador’s residence to mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.
ASEAN -- a regional bloc of 10 countries comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- was founded on Aug. 8, 1967 in Bangkok.
Praising Turkey’s deepened relations with ASEAN member states, Philippine ambassador Maria Rowena Mendoza Sanchez said Ankara’s application for sectoral dialogue partnership carried links between the bloc and Turkey to an institutional level.
“We need to say that there is a work platform for deepening the relationship in a regional capacity,” Sanchez said.
“Turkey has amazing economic growth. This application for sectoral dialogue partnership will further enhance the cooperation and deepen the relations on the regional as well as the bilateral level among the member states,” she added.
Indonesia’s ambassador to Turkey, Pak Wardana, also hailed Turkey’s ASEAN partnership, saying: “We welcome the area for cooperation as outlined in the Action Plan for Sectoral Dialogue Partnership between Turkey and ASEAN, which emphasizes the potential for economic cooperation.”
Referring to potential cooperation in investment, energy, construction and defense, Wardana said: “Considering Turkey is the sixth most popular tourism destination in the world, tourism is also one of the important areas which provide many opportunities for cooperation that will be mutually beneficial for both Turkey and ASEAN.”
Thailand's ambassador, Suvat Chirapant, said ASEAN was a huge market with over 600 million people.
“We are looking for Turkey to be a hub connecting China, India, Japan and Korea with Europe, Africa and the Middle East,” Chirapant said.
He added Turkey’s new embassy in Vientiane, Laos “will improve diplomatic relations between Turkey, Malaysia and Singapore”.
Turkey became a sectoral dialogue partner for ASEAN on Sunday.