E Timor should join Commonwealth, says Carr

E Timor should join Commonwealth, says Carr

E Timor should join Commonwealth, says Carr

Updated 14 December 2012, 14:22 AEDT

The Australian Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, is advocating that East Timor should make moves to join the Commonwealth of Nations, the former British Commonwealth.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Senator Bob Carr, is advocating that East Timor should make moves to join the Commonwealth of Nations, the former British Commonwealth.

The former Portuguese colony is keen to join the Association of South-East Asian Nations and is being supported in its efforts by some Asean members.

But Senator Carr, holding talks with the government in Dili, said while Australia would be happy to back any move by East Timor to join Asean, Commonwealth membership would be a cheaper and potentially more effective option.

Evolving

"The Commonwealth is evolving into a community of democracies quite quickly," he told Radio Australia's Connect Asia.

It was 'very worthy' of consideration by East Timor's leaders.

Importantly, "they'd be joining an international forum where the votes and the views of a small island state count as much as the vote and the views of India or Nigeria or the United Kingdom.

"This would be the only forum in the world where small island states would have a consideration equal to those of very populous nations."

The minister said there was a precedent - with Rwanda and Mozambique - for Commonwealth members not to have a British heritage.

With the idea now "flickering on the screen" for Timor, the Australian minister said Commonwealth membership gave access to an international forum at low cost, while the demands of Asean membership - with hundreds of regional meetings mandated each year - were "pretty considerable for a small nation".

There was no conflict with Asean membership, he said: Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia were Asean members, while also belonging to the Commonwealth.