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Timor-Leste: President questions whether country ready for full ASEAN membership

Lusa - April 12, 2024

The president of Timor-Leste, Jose Ramos-Horta, has questioned whether the country is prepared to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year, as currently planned, given its lack of key infrastructure.

"The ASEAN countries are ready to receive Timor-Leste in 2025," he said in an interview with Lusa. "Now, Timor-Leste is not ready. It doesn't even have a modern airport or a modern hospital.

"I don't know if the current government has even made a modern hospital and a modern airport absolute priorities," he added. "If you don't think that a modern airport is urgent – and it should have been done many years ago – and if you don't think that a modern hospital is urgent, then our joining ASEAN shouldn't be urgent either."

He maintained that Timor-Leste cannot join the organisation with its current airport and hospital.

ASEAN was founded in 1967 to promote economic, political, social and cultural co-operation and ensure stability and development in the region. Its current member states are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the last country to join ASEAN, in 1995.

The 10 member states in November 2022 voted unanimously to admit Timor-Leste, but with observer status only, and no veto power.

In May 2023 ASEAN, together with Timor-Leste, approved a roadmap to full membership in 2025, which includes preparing human resources, building infrastructure and adopting the organisation's existing agreements.

Last week, the ASEAN secretary general, Kao Kim Hourn, paid a visit to Dili, during which he reaffirmed his commitment to working with Timor-Leste so that the country can become a full member of the organisation in the near future.

The Timorese authorities have set 2025 as the year for the country to become a full member of the organisation, but the decision will be made by ASEAN member states.

Source: https://www.macaubusiness.com/timor-leste-president-questions-whether-country-ready-for-full-asean-membership