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Address by the Australian Foreign M
Subject: Address by the Australian Foreign Minister. (Including Regard to Myanmar).
Australian Minister for Foreign Minister address to ASEAN PMC 7+7 ADDRESS
BY SENATOR GARETH EVANS, FOREIGN MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA, TO THE ASEAN PMC
7+7 SESSION, BANDAR SERI BAGAWAN, 2 AUGUST 1995.
If we look back over the last year since ASEAN and its dialogue partners
met in Bangkok, it would be fair to say that we have seen in the intervening
twelve months a consolidation and strengthening of the sense of community
amongst Asia-Pacific nations. This is reflected not only in the further
development of APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum, but perhaps also in a
growing call that disputes in both the economic and the security fields
not be resolved unilaterally but be addressed in a cooperative manner with
the interests of the broader Asia-Pacific community in mind.
Economically, the Asia Pacific Region has been going from strength to
strength, reflecting its pre-eminence as the fastest growing region in
the world. This robust growth will be further enhanced by the historic
declaration made last December at the APEC leaders meeting in Bogor. The
agreement to achieve free trade in the region by 2010 for industrialised
countries and 2020 for developing countries will have the end result of
establishing an open market of around two billion people. It is pleasing
too, that at a sub-regional level trade liberalisation is gathering
pace. A good example is ASEAN's decision to speed up the implementation of
the ASEAN Free Trade Area and significantly broaden its coverage.
Australia believes the success of the APEC process is central both to the
future prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and to its long term stability.
Apart from the enormous longer term economic benefits it will bring to all
participants, we should remember that not the least of APEC's contributions
to regional peace and prosperity is that it engages the United States in
the Asia-Pacific in a constructive way that is strongly in the interests both
of the US and regional nations.
Australia has been pleased by progress in recent APEC discussions and
APEC now seems well on its way to putting in place an action agenda
capable of effectively implementing the Bogor commitments. This reflects
very positive Japanese leadership and a substantial body of support among
APEC members for a bold outcome at the forthcoming Osaka Leaders Meeting.
APEC's success of course can only take place within the framework of the
effective operation of the GATT and of the new World Trade Organisation.
The willingness of major nations to deal with important bilateral
economic disputes between them by recourse to the multilateral system is
particularly important for this region. Such disputes between the world's
largest economies, for example the recent dispute between the United States
and Japan, have major consequences for Australia and the rest of the Asia
Pacific region. It is Australia's view that any further trade differences
of this kind should be settled by recourse to multilateral processes such as
the World Trade Organisation or suitable regional arrangements rather than
by unilateral action. In the regional security field, Australia has been
very pleased with the considerable progress made in the ASEAN Regional
Forum under the stewardship of Brunei over the last year, culminating in
yesterday's successful meeting. Australia looks forward to working
closely with Indonesia as it takes the process forward in the coming
year. Australia welcomes in particular the progress made on confidence
building measures, with particular dialogues to go forward under the
auspices of the Intersessional Support Group (ISG). It is essential, of
course, for the ARF to address the real regional security issues facing
the Asia-Pacific. The ARF could not claim to make a practical contribution
to regional welfare if it were to ignore such issues as the Korean Peninsula
and the South China Sea. It augurs well for the development of Asia-Pacific
security processes that ARF participants have been prepared to tackle such
issues in a constructive and non-confrontational way.
Both these issues demonstrate a growing preparedness on the part of
regional countries to recognise their obligations as members of a regional
community in the Asia-Pacific. North Korea's willingness to sign the
1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework was a major breakthrough in resolving the
nuclear issue and in contributing to peace and stability on the Korean
Peninsula. The Agreed Framework offers the best way of ensuring the
DPRK's compliance with its safeguards obligations, halting its weapons-related
nuclear development and drawing it into a more responsible international
role. Australia has also been encouraged by the outcome of the recent
US and DPRK talks in Kuala Lumpur, which confirmed KEDO's authority to
negotiate with the DPRK for the provision of Light Water Reactors. We
believe it is in the security interests of the region and the
international community to continue to support the implementation of the
Agreed Framework through continued strong support for KEDO.
Australia takes a close interest in developments in the South China Sea.
Instability there affects the security of Australia's surrounding region.
Unilateral action unexpectedly initiated earlier this year was very
unsettling for the region, and lead to a strong and united call by
counties of the region for cooperative solutions rather than imposed
outcomes. To make progress towards a long term solution on the Spratlys
dispute, it is very important that all claimants commit themselves to a
serious multilateral, diplomatic, negotiating exercise, rather than
seeking to resolve or assert claims through unilateral action or the use
or threat of force or military might in any way. As a starting point,
Australia urges mutual recognition of the existence of competing sovereignty
claims. We also encourage all claimants to clarify the precise extent of their
territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea.
Australia like many other countries is opposed to nuclear weapons testing
by any state. We deplored China's undertaking a test just a few days
after the NPT Review and Extension Conference, and France's announcement
on 13 June that it would resume nuclear testing in the South Pacific.
Australia is profoundly concerned that the actions of China and France
will have adverse effects on international nuclear non-proliferation and
disarmament efforts. These actions have betrayed the trust of the many
countries - particularly those in the NAM - which agreed to the
delicately balanced understandings which form the outcome of the NPT Review.
Moreover, continued nuclear testing represent a potential threat to the
negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which are now entering
a crucial stage in Geneva.
Australia's position is that such testing lacks any justification,
especially with the passing of the Cold War. The strength of feeling in
the region - and indeed world wide - shows that countries which persist with
testing programs are seriously out of step with the international community.
South Pacific Forum nations, including Australia, feel particularly aggrieved
at the French decision, on both environmental and wider nuclear policy
grounds. I led a South Pacific Forum mission to Paris in June to protest
against this decision. We were thus delighted at the call by ARF
members yesterday for an immediate cessation of nuclear testing in the region.
More positively, Vietnam's presence at this meeting highlights two
developments that contribute in an important way to a stronger sense of
community in the Asia-Pacific - the expansion of ASEAN and the normalisation of
relations between Vietnam and the United States.
I would like to express Australia's pleasure at Vietnam's accession to
ASEAN. Membership of ASEAN is an important milestone in Vietnam's
accelerating integration with the region. ASEAN membership is all the more
significant because of the opportunity it gives Vietnam, which has
suffered decades of war and isolation, to share fully in the economic
growth and development of the region.
Nor are the benefits of this event only Vietnam's: the political and
economic strength of ASEAN will be enhanced by the addition of an
educated and industrious nation of some 73 million people. The combined
population of the ASEAN states is now about 415 million, and the
diversity of what was already a rich tapestry has been increased by
addition of another nation with cultural traditions that reflect
centuries of interaction and integration. Vietnam's membership - and
prospects for an even larger group - will maintain ASEAN's central
role in the Asia-Pacific community.
Australia looks forward to the time when ASEAN includes all the ten
member states of South East Asia. ASEAN's success as a cohesive regional
grouping strongly supports Australia's fundamental interest in the
economic growth and strategic stability of South East Asia. The trends
are encouraging. Cambodia, after decades of instability which witnessed
the horrors of the late 1970s, is finally showing signs of re-emerging as a
cohesive nation. Laos, after years of isolation, is becoming a focus for
trade and investment, building upon its central position in Indochina.
Australia warmly welcomed President Clinton's announcement of the
normalisation of diplomatic relations with Vietnam on 11 July 1995.
Australia has long been of the view that the relationship should be normalised
and has taken every opportunity to encourage both the United States and
Vietnam to take the necessary steps to facilitate normalisation.
Australia believes that normalisation marks the beginning
of a new phase in US relations with Vietnam and with the region.
Together with Vietnam's accession to ASEAN, the re-establishment of full
diplomatic ties with the United States should allow each country to
pursue more comprehensive engagement in regional affairs, enhancing the
sense of community in the Asia-Pacific.
[With regard to Myanmar, we of course welcome the release of Aung San Suu
Kyi as an important action by the military leadership of that country.
It is heartening to see that since her release she has laid stress
on the need for dialogue, for reconciliation and for inclusiveness rather
than for confrontation and division. But it is vital that none of us in
the region should now send a message to the military leadership of Myanmar
that it has now done enough simply by releasing Aung San Suu Kyi - that it
simply has to wait out international disapproval for a year or two more and
that it will be accepted into regional organisations without need for
further change. All of us should make clear to the military leadership
of Myanmar that we need further indications of its intention to move down
the path towards reconciliation. We should make clear to that leadership
that the region will respond in a measured and positive way to the
benchmark steps it takes towards that reconciliation, but that those steps
need to be taken.]
The development of the Asia-Pacific towards a regional community has
helped it avoid in recent years the worst type of security related
problems that afflict other parts of the world. Not the least of these are
the myriad of seemingly intractable ethnic conflicts, typified at present
by the worsening situation in the former Yugoslavia. Like other nations,
Australia has been deeply saddened by recent developments in Bosnia and its
neighbourhood. Australia appreciates the strength of feeling in the
region on this issue. We continue to encourage those countries directly
involved - especially the European nations - to tackle the situation in the
former Yugoslavia decisively.
Australians now accept, not grudgingly but enthusiastically, the idea
that the East Asian Hemisphere, within the wider Asia Pacific region, is
where we live, where we must find our security, and where we can best guarantee
our prosperity. Over the last ten years in particular, we have comprehensively
engaged our East Asian neighbourhood to the extent now that we are
economically, strategically, politically, related to it to a degree that
would have been almost unimaginable even a decade ago. For us,
therefore, the emergence of a real, identifiable Asia Pacific community,
further consolidation of which we have seen in the past few days, is
something which is vital to Australia's national interests. The simple
conclusion to which we came many years ago, and which we believe is now
being well borne out, is that no country in this part of the world can
guarantee their security or their economic progress better alone that
they can by working cooperatively with all other countries in the region.
Australia certainly appreciates that its interests will be best served by
maintaining and strengthening the trans-Pacific architecture which APEC and
ARF have already put in place. We believe, in fact, that the interests
of all the nations of the region will best be served not only through the
further evolution of these institutions, but by the emergence of a
confident, articulate sense of membership of a common Asia Pacific community.
And I believe that, with the events of the last twelve months I have
described, we are well on the way to achieving
Senator the Hon. Gareth Evans (Minister for Foreign Affairs)
Suite 68 MG, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600
Ph:(616) 277 7500
Fax:(616) 273 4112
4 Treasury Place, Melbourne Vic 3000
Ph:(613) 9655 2533
Fax:(613) 9650 9759