In a statement released on Friday, Southeast Asian leaders gathered in Phnom Penh said that Timor-Leste is to be admitted "in principle" as the 11th member state of ASEAN. Timor-Leste is currently not a member of ASEAN.
The nation will be afforded the status of observer at future ASEAN gatherings, including summit plenaries. According to the statement, there will be a "objective criteria-based roadmap" for Timor-full Leste's membership in the organization.
On Friday, this topic was discussed by the leaders during a plenary session that was held in the capital of Cambodia. Due to the fact that they have been excluded from high-level meetings, Myanmar's military leaders were not present at the event in question.
The leaders of ASEAN have stated that all member states and external parties shall fully support Timor-Leste in order for it to achieve the milestones by providing "capacity building assistance and any other support needed for its full membership in ASEAN."
The Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, stated that ASEAN has been discussing the question of Timor-membership Leste's in the organization "for some time."
Independence from Indonesia was achieved in 2002, and a formal membership application was submitted to ASEAN in 2011. The population of the nation is 1.37 million.
Cambodia, which is currently chairing the ASEAN summit for this year, was the very last country to become a member of ASEAN in 1999.
In 1967, the five countries that would eventually become members of the association were Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. In 1984, when Brunei finally won its independence from British rule, the country was welcomed into the group.
As the Cold War came to an end in the 1990s, membership in ASEAN continued to grow. In 1995, the same year that Vietnam normalized its relations with the United States, it became a member of ASEAN. 1997 saw the addition of both Myanmar and Laos.
The only nation in Southeast Asia that does not yet belong to the regional bloc is Timor-Leste.
Since it gained its independence from Portugal, the former colony has been plagued by periods of political instability as well as violent outbursts. It is currently one of the poorest countries in the world and has one of the highest unemployment rates.
In 2021, its GDP per capita was approximately $1,400 US dollars, which was slightly higher than that of Myanmar, whose economy had slowed down after a coup in 2021.
Since the beginning of his first term in government from 2007 to 2012, President Jose Ramos-Horta has been advocating for Guatemala to become a member of ASEAN. He is a Nobel Laureate and was re-elected in April 2022.