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Indonesia seeks more influence overseas: Minister

  • Tama Salim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, January 11, 2017 | 07:01 am
Indonesia seeks more influence overseas: Minister Enhancing commitment -- Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi speaks at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) 43rd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on Tuesday. (Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry/File)

Indonesia will forge ahead in the new year with a comprehensive foreign diplomacy agenda as it looks to elevate its presence on the international stage.

Eschewing the ceremonial format of past annual statements, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi announced 14 foreign policy priorities for Indonesia to pursue in 2017, focusing mainly on consolidating the country’s geostrategic importance.

Engagement in its immediate regional vicinity will remain a big priority as Jakarta looks to strengthen its contributions to ASEAN ahead of the bloc’s 50th anniversary celebrations this year.

To this end, Indonesia will continue building up ASEAN centrality and unity, implement the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and back the constructive role of forums like the East Asian Summit as an ASEAN-led mechanism for maintaining regional peace and stability, Retno said.

“Indonesia will ensure peace and stability in the region — and, once more, negotiations on the COC [Code of Conduct in the South China Sea] will be very important,” Retno said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

In addressing the simmering debate over the South China Sea, where China and a number of ASEAN member states have competing claims, Retno said Indonesia looked to set a good example for its neighbors by expediting the settlement of a number of unresolved border disputes with Timor Leste and Malaysia this year. “Good fences make good neighbors,” she said.

Indonesia will also focus on its engagements as chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) — “a regional architecture that is badly needed”, the minister said — ahead of the IORA’s first summit ever, a landmark meeting in Jakarta that will commemorate the organization’s 20th anniversary in March.

Additionally, Indonesia will continue its Look East policy, paying particular attention to engagements in the South Pacific, whether through the Melanesian Spearhead Group, the Pacific Island Forum, or the Pacific Island Development Forum.

In its endeavors to contribute to world peace, Indonesia will continue to seek support for its bid to be a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2019 and 2020 period and work toward the deployment of 4,000 Indonesian peacekeepers by 2019.

Retno also touched on Indonesia’s continuing support for the Palestinian agenda, which includes supporting the implementation of UN Resolution 2334 on illegal Israeli settlements and rallying support for or exerting international pressure toward achieving a two-state solution.

In the economic sector, a point of interest for President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the government will “intensify development, trade and investments in potential countries”, particularly in non-traditional markets like Africa and Latin America, with the minister hinting that Indonesian trade delegations would be sent on a “tour” of the two regions this year.

International relations expert Beginda Pakpahan, who was present at Tuesday’s event, heaped praise on the minister’s ability to discern the growing uncertainty in geopolitics, and adapt the country’s foreign policy priorities to address the most pressing issues.

The University of Indonesia scholar said however that the ministry would have to prove itself in the coming weeks, especially in responding to the incoming US government.

“With the situation developing so fast, I hope that the ministry is able to keep up. They have to be flexible, adapt quickly and respond accordingly,” Beginda told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

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