The UN Security Council has just heard the views of the parties in the case: Cambodia and Thailand. Both are on the root cause of the differences among them, namely the border dispute, as well the circumstances surrounding the most recent border clashes on Feb. 4-6, 2011.
Indeed, on Feb. 7-8, 2011, through my visit to both Phnom Penh and Bangkok, I had the opportunity to hear first hand from the parties concerned on the issues confronting them.
There’s little doubt about the complexity of the border issue confronting Thailand and Cambodia. However, there is absolutely no reason why the issue cannot be resolved through peaceful means; through dialogue and negotiations.
As chair of ASEAN, Indonesia is of the view that there is nothing inevitable about a military solution to the two countries’ border issue. Indeed, as chair of ASEAN, Indonesia detects still a window of opportunity.
The recent communications from the two governments to the Security Council, as well as the statements just now made by the distinguished foreign ministers, illustrate well the differing interpretations of the circumstances surrounding the recent border incidents. Each side professes its defensive and peaceful intent; apportioning to the other responsibility for provoking the border incidents. However, intent must be accurately deciphered. Confidence and trust build on the ground.
The recent military incidents illustrate that, at the very least, there is a communication gap; of perceptions and misperceptions, leading to, perhaps, a cycle of unintended violence and conflict.
There is, thus, a need to build a more reliable local and higher level communications system between the two sides, perhaps with third party support, to ensure that the cease-fire holds, to foster confidence in each others’ commitment to hold the cease-fire and to remove self-fulfilling worst scenario action and counter reaction. Not least, there is an obvious need for the two sides to make a higher level political commitment to respect the cease-fire.
The Security Council may wish to join in calling on the two sides to respect and to adhere to the cease-fire and to support ASEAN’s endeavor in this regard. Commitment to address the issue by peaceful means and commitment to respect the cease-fire; these are essential if we are to create conditions conducive for diplomatic negotiations to take place.
The Security Council may wish to express support for ASEAN’s efforts, to facilitate and actively encourage, the two sides to step up efforts to resolve their disputes by peaceful means.
In anticipation of the outcome of the present Security Council meeting, as chair of ASEAN, Indonesia has called for a meeting of the foreign ministers of ASEAN member states in Jakarta on Feb. 22, 2011. Indonesia is very much encouraged that both Cambodia and Thailand readily and at once agreed to the convening of the meeting.
Based on the communications I have had, Indonesia foresees three basic and mutually reinforcing objectives:
First, an ASEAN call and, indeed, strong encouragement, to the parties concerned to continue to commit to the peaceful settlement of disputes and renunciation of the use and threat of the use of force, as provided for in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and its Charter;
Second, an ASEAN support to the efforts by the two parties to ensure respect of the cease-fire.
Enhanced communications modalities may need to be contemplated and introduced; and
Third, an ASEAN effort to ensure conducive climate for the resumption of negotiations between the two sides. ASEAN may facilitate such talks and be informed by the parties concerned on the general outline of its progress.
The Council may wish to express support for the aforementioned ASEAN foreign ministers meeting.
Our region is only too painfully aware of the costs of conflict. It is, at the same, cognizant of the dividends accruing from conditions of amity and cooperation. Common security means common prosperity and common progress. We are not about to let these gains lapse.
ASEAN has been at the forefront in catapulting the region to an ASEAN Community by 2015 in all its three pillars, namely economic, sociocultural and political-security. In such Community, resort to use of force to settle disputes cannot be the norm. It is an exceptional and unique aberration; as we believe the current situation between Cambodia and Thailand.
Indeed, cooperation within ASEAN, between ASEAN and its immediate regions, through the “plus one” and “plus three” processes, as well as the East Asia Summit, have continued unabated. ASEAN is occupying the driving seat role in the wider region’s architecture building.
Beyond, ASEAN is identifying a roadmap for a more enhanced contribution on global affairs: An ASEAN common platform on global issues of common concern.
In short, ASEAN has every incentive to ensure that the present difficulties afflicting two of its members be resolved amicably. Guns and artillery must remain silent in Southeast Asia.
Thus, we ask for synergy of efforts by the Security Council to support ASEAN’s endeavors and ultimately, to support and provide every positive incentive for the two parties concerned, Cambodia and Thailand, to resolve their differences amicably, as befitting members of the ASEAN family of nations; and indeed, members of the global community of nations.
As chair of ASEAN, Indonesia is of the view that there is nothing inevitable about a military solution to the two countries’ border issue.
The article is an excerpt of statement by Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa before the United Nations Security Council in New York on Monday.