BEIJING – President Duterte is amenable to the entry of Mongolia and Turkey to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) despite the concerns raised by Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi on their geographical location.
The President said the two nations expressed interest in joining the regional bloc during his separate meetings with Mongolia Prime Minister Jargaltulgyn Erdenebat and Turkey President Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of a trade forum in Beijing early this week.
“By the way, I had a talk with the President Erdoğan and the Prime Minister of si Erdenebat sa Mongolia. They also want to… Gusto nila na mag-sali sa ASEAN,” Duterte said upon arrival in Davao City early Tuesday morning.
“And since I am now the chair, ang Pilipinas ngayon, they wanted me to sponsor their entry and I said, ‘Yes, why not?’” he said.
Another ASEAN leader has some misgivings about the entry of the Mongolia and Turkey but Duterte stood his ground.
“Si Aung San Suu Kyi, ang sabi niya, ‘Have you considered the physical – the geography whether they are part of the ASEAN or not?” Duterte said, quoting the Myanmar leader.
Duterte responded to Suu Kyi: “They are. I would say that they are.”
He said there has been an “ambivalent view” on whether Turkey is actually part of Asia or just a bridge between Asia and Europe. “Wala silang klaro diyan. There has always been an ambivalent view. Sometimes they say that they are part of Asia, sometimes they say that they are the bridge of Asia to Europe,” he said.
Mongolia is located in East Asia while Turkey has been known as a transcontinental country that lies both in Asia and Europe.
ASEAN, founded in 1967, is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (Genalyn Kabiling)