Asean deal expected to strengthen Turkey's outreach to Southeast Asia
According to Vietnamese Ambassador to Turkey Duong Huynh Lap, bilateral relations between Vietnam and Turkey will move closer to their full potential as Ankara takes a key step in its diplomatic outreach to Southeast Asia by signing a cooperative agreement with the main forum in the region, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Late last month, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu signed a deal on Turkey's accession to ASEAN's Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) in Vietnam, where a meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum, a group made up of the 10 ASEAN nations in addition to 17 others, took place. "Accession to the treaty marks a historic step in Turkey's process of opening up to the Southeast Asian-Pacific region," a Foreign Ministry statement said. "Thus, our country has established, for the first time, an institutional relationship and has the opportunity to further deepen its political, economic and cultural ties with the region." Turkey's efforts to build institutional ties with ASEAN date back to 1999, but they accelerated in 2008 when Turkey formally expressed its readiness to accede to the TAC in a letter to the Foreign Ministry of Thailand, which chaired ASEAN activities that year. "Turkey is a member of the G-20, has the world's 17th-largest economy, and is a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and a country with an important location connecting two continents, Europe and Asia," Lap said in an interview, when asked about the treaty accession. "This important development will contribute to the further strengthening and consolidation of friendship and cooperative relations with full potential between Turkey and ASEAN member countries, especially Vietnam as ASEAN's chairman this year."