The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has given his assurances that the Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) will be continued under Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's new government.
Yudhoyono said he would request that the president-elect continue to hold the annual intergovernmental gathering, which addresses developments in democracy worldwide.
'I will tell Bapak Joko Widodo ['¦] this important tradition must continue,' the President said Friday as quoted by Antara news agency. He made the comment during a press conference after opening the seventh BDF in Nusa Dua, Bali, in response to recent criticism of the forum, which was first held in 2008.
Yudhoyono added that the Bali Media Forum, one of the BDF's side events, promoted an exchange among media personnel to help them understand the development of democracy in the region. Citing an example, Yudhoyono said the forum had acted as a bridge for media outlets in resolving a crisis triggered by the controversial publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the new administration, which will be led by Jokowi and vice president-electJusuf Kalla, had the authority to decide the BDF's future. However, he added that the forum was growing in popularity among an increasing number of countries, not only in Asia Pacific but also in other regions.
'It is a fact that the BDF has become part of the democratic structure in the region. Many countries have enjoyed its benefits,' Marty said.
This year's BDF is being cochaired by Yudhoyono and Philippine President Benign Aquino III, and it is being attended by delegates from 85 countries. The world leaders attending this year's event include Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmai and Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah. (dyl/ebf)(++++)