Small, remote… and at the center of strategic preoccupations

Couverture ASE2020Christine CABASSET

The number of foreign delegations and the scale of the ceremony, in Dili, of the 20th anniversary of the 1999 auto-determination consultation reminded how « internationalized » the independent Timor-Leste was born. The Timor-Leste membership to ASEAN made another diplomatic and media’s major theme of the year, although based on a non-event: nine years after its application, the country is still waiting for a decision from the regional organization. Its membership is scrutinized as none other before it. Journalists and observers try hard to explain this delay in the light of the supposed resistance factors from ASEAN member-states. The analysis of the petroleum geoeconomy provides a basis for other interpretation. The increasing presence of China in the country could also explain the delay to get the ASEAN membership, as well as potentially disrupting Australia - Timor-Leste relations.

Keywords: Timor-Leste (East Timor), ASEAN membership, Geopolitics, Petroleum resources, Environment