Prince Mohamed attends TAC signing ceremony for Norway
Abdul Hakiim Yakof

HIS Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, attended the Signing Ceremony for the Accession of the Kingdom of Norway to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) yesterday at the Main Conference Hall, International Convention Centre (ICC), Berakas.

During the welcoming remarks, His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, sent his respects to King Herald V and the Government and People of the Kingdom of Norway and welcomed Norway as a new member of the TAC.

His Royal Highness and other Asean Foreign Ministers then signed the instrument of Extension of the TAC while Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, signed the Instrument of Accession to TAC.

Following the signing ceremony, Mr Eide said that “accession to the TAC is a natural extension of our longstanding engagement in the region and our commitment to multilateralism”.

“As an outward-looking trading nation, globally engaged in maritime issues, energy and climate, as well as a major investor, Norway already has a significant presence in Southeast Asia,” said Mr Eide.

Foreign Minister Eide also announced during the ceremony that Norway will further its engagement with Asean by establishing a Norwegian Asean Regional Initiatives Fund of USD 7 million.

He emphasised that, “the fund will be geared towards supporting selected cross-cutting issues of regional importance and in line with Asean’s roadmaps”.

“In today’s interconnected world, regional organisations are proving their relevance. The building of norms and values, peaceful settlement of disputes and the promotion of economic integration are increasingly taking place at the regional level. Hence, contact between as well as within the regions is important to understand and influence the global agenda,” Mr Eide said.

The details of the cooperation will be reflected in an Asean-Norway Joint Declaration on enhanced cooperation.

TAC is a non-aggression and cooperation pact between members of Asean and their partners. The Treaty was first signed in February 1976 by the leader of the then members of Asean (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines) and has since been amended three times to include non-Asean members and more recently regional organisations.

Today, the non-Asean parties to the TAC are Papua New Guinea, China, India, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Australia, France, East Timor, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, North Korea, the United States, European Union and the United Kingdom. - Borneo Bulletin (2 July 2013)