Asean’s Albatross
covering burma and southeast asia
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Interview

Asean’s Albatross


By Asda Jayanama Thursday, March 24, 2005


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But Asean is not united versus Burma, and if Asean is not united it becomes very difficult… How determined are we?

 

Q: Perhaps the question of whether Burma will take over the chairmanship of Asean in 2006 and host next year’s annual meeting, as scheduled, is a test of that determination?

 

A: I think the West has a lot to do with whether or not Burma will hold the chairmanship. If the United States and the European Union, for example, threaten not to turn up in Rangoon [for the Asean annual meeting] that will have its effect. But the West is also not determined enough. Although they have said that it’s not going to look good, they have not specifically threatened to boycott the meeting. Maybe they have hinted, or maybe some of us have encouraged them to hint this. If they do attend the meeting, it is a way of showing their approval and political support or political non-objection to the Burmese regime in spite of what they said in the resolution at the UN. The West was very active and very strong in condemning the regime and wanting the UN resolution to be stronger. So how can they go to a country which they condemn, and has been condemned by the UN for over 10 years? As for Asean, well, we have to attend because we’re neighbors but the West doesn’t have to.

 

Q: What might be the repercussions for Asean if Burma does assume the chairmanship? How damaging will it be for the region if dialogue partners such as the US and the EU don’t attend Asean’s annual meeting?

 

A: It will look bad. It creates a bad image and it will split Asean more. It will worsen Asean’s attitude towards Burma. At the same time, [communist] countries like Laos and Vietnam will say that the West is terrible, that they’re blackmailing us. It will distance one part of Asean against the other.



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