Foreign Minister of Indonesia
Indonesia’s diplomacy has been at full speed since the very first day of 2018. I have just returned from Davao City, Philippines. Symbolically, on Jan. 3, I handed over 300 Indonesian passports to persons of Indonesian descent, who have been living for decades in the Philippines without a defined legal citizenship.
Our Consulate General, with the Philippines and the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, have listed 8,745 persons of Indonesian descent in Southern Philippines. Among them, 2,425 people have been given the Certificate of Indonesian Citizenship (SPKI).
The lengthy collecting and validating of data is needed to ensure maximum protection for citizens living abroad. With the Philippines we agreed to enhance cooperation particularly to improve education in Islamic schools in Indonesia and the Southern Philippines.
On Jan. 5, I inaugurated the groundbreaking event for the construction of the new ASEAN Secretariat building so that the Secretariat will be able to perform its tasks well in the next 50 years.
Also on Jan. 5 I received Indian Foreign Minister (Sushma Swaraj). We agreed to strengthen our strategic partnership, including in the Indo-Pacific.
Approaching the end of the year, the world was shocked by an attempt to alter the international status quo on Jerusalem. Indonesia’s position on Palestine is clear, firm, and consistent in line with our Constitutional mandate.
Indonesia’s contribution to world peace is also carried out in Afghanistan. We will intensify cooperation through scholarships, police training, infrastructure, ulema exchange programs, and women empowerment. Indonesia also had the honor to receive the visit by President M. Ashraf Ghani, the High Peace Council, and the First Lady of Afghanistan in 2017.
Indonesia also witnessed with concern the crisis in Rakhine state, Myanmar. Indonesia has been the driving force behind the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Center in Rakhine. We welcome the repatriation arrangement between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Following the occupation of Marawi by terrorist groups., we initiated a trilateral meeting to strengthen cooperation in defense, countering radicalism and terrorism. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of ASEAN’s establishment. Achievements included the ASEAN- China agreement on the Framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.
Indonesia’s diplomacy was fortified not only in the Pacific Ocean but also in the Indian Ocean.
Strengthening cooperation in the Indian Ocean Rim was a priority during Indonesia’s chairmanship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). After 20 years of its establishment, an IORA Summit was held for the first time in Jakarta last March. The resulting Jakarta Concord reinforced members’ commitment to uphold the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as the main norm in maintaining peace and stability in the Indian Ocean region, and the IORA Action Plan.
Indonesia also intensified its campaign for candidacy as a non permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2019-2020. Indonesia ranks ninth out of 125 peacekeeping troop contributing countries.
Advancing democracy has been carried out through the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF), referred by others as an international forum discussing democracy without “finger pointing.” A breakthrough was the BDF Chapter Tunis.
Indonesia’s commitment to strengthen the South-South and Triangular Cooperation was also fortified in 2017. At least 31 countries in Asia, Africa, and South Pacific have become Indonesia’s partners including in food security and micro-finance.
Indonesia has strengthened engagement in the Pacific through trainings and humanitarian assistance, especially during natural disasters.
South-South and other technical cooperation shall be strengthened through a single agency — Indonesian Aid — tasked to deliver our international assistance, with an initial budget of Rp 1 trillion.
As part of economic diplomacy, Trade Expo Indonesia 2017 yielded a total transaction of US$1.4 billion or a 37.36 percent increase compared to last year’s transaction. With stakeholders, including with the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries, Indonesia intensifies efforts to counter the black campaign and promote sustainable palm oil. In trade and economic cooperation, Indonesia signed 78 agreements in 2017.
The Foreign Ministry’s innovation includes the Treaty Room website, containing every single international agreement signed since Indonesia’s independence.
In protecting citizens abroad the government has exerted tremendous efforts to ensure the state’s presence for all citizens.
In safeguarding sovereignty, throughout 2017, we conducted 35 boundary demarcations. Progress included ratification of a maritime boundary agreement between Indonesia and Singapore; and ratification of the Exclusive Economic Zone boundary agreement between Indonesia and the Philippines. Now, in 2018, many countries are backtracking from international commitments. Therefore, we need to keep on developing partnerships to respect international law and multilateralism, to avoid “the mighty takes all.”
With other Southeast Asian countries at the crossroads of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, we must continue to be the prominent player in the creation of a regional architecture. Indonesia also wants peace, stability, prosperity in the Indian and Pacific Oceans Rims or the Indo-Pacific.
Therefore Indonesia will continue to contribute to strong positive cooperation in the IndoPacific, instead of one based on suspicion. Indonesia will work with countries in the region, to develop an Indo-Pacific cooperation umbrella to support confidence-building measures and cooperation; and enhance a habit of dialogue.
This regional architecture will be built through a building blocks approach, including intensifying cooperation in strategic fields and creating new growth centers in the Indian Ocean region.
Strategic steps and focuses of foreign policy in 2018 include:
First, in strengthening ASEAN unity and centrality, Indonesia will fully support the chairmanship of Singapore in ASEAN.
Indonesia shall strive for ASEAN and China to be able to produce a practical and effective Code of Conduct for stability and security of the South China Sea.
More transnational crimes requires better legal cooperation in ASEAN. Thus Indonesia will push for an ASEAN Extradition Treaty.
Second, Indonesia will enhance its peace and humanitarian diplomacy. Third, Indonesia will ensure the successful hosting of important events including the Asian Games and the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
Fourth, Indonesia will intensify its campaign for candidacy to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2019-2020 period. Fifth, we shall intensify boundary delimitation negotiations. Sixth, the Foreign Ministry will launch “SafeTravel” app for overseas citizens.
Seventh, Indonesia will intensify trade and economic cooperation negotiations. Priorities for conclusion include the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union, Turkey and Australia.
Eighth, we will strengthen the combatting of transnational crimes, including human trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal drugs, and countering radicalism and terrorism.
The above is an abridged version of Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi’s annual press statement of Jan. 9. Read the complete speech here.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.