The Jakarta Post
New Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi made it very clear on Wednesday that her office would focus on how to materialize President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's vision to make Indonesia the world's 'maritime axis' in the next five-year program.
Speaking in her first press briefing after taking over the ministerial post from her former boss Marty Natalegawa, Indonesia's first female foreign minister also initiated another priority on economy and people-based diplomacy.
'We will carry out the President's visions. In a political context, the Foreign Ministry wants to push the realization of the maritime axis through the enforcement of [Indonesia's] sovereignty, security and prosperity,' said Retno.
Retno, who had to leave her post as Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands following her new promotion, also asked all Indonesian diplomats to move away from their old mindset to enable them to concentrate on materializing the so-called 'Trisakti' vision from the President.
Trisakti is three principles first formulated by Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, which envision an Indonesia sovereign in its politics, independent in regard to its economy and distinct in its cultural character.
According to Retno, Indonesia should utilize international forums in the near future, such as the APEC Leaders Meeting in China, the ASEAN Summit and other related summits in Myanmar, as well as the G20 in Australia, to introduce Jokowi's maritime vision, including the settlement of sea-boundary disputes with neighboring countries.
'In the upcoming ASEAN Maritime Forum, we will push for maritime connectivity and the expansion of sea lanes. We will also promote the maritime-axis concept by initiating cooperation with other maritime or archipelagic nations,' she said.
When it comes to political sovereignty, Retno pledged to be tough in keeping Indonesia's sovereignty intact. 'We will keep up on the ongoing border-related negotiations, some of which should soon be resolved,' she said, adding that Indonesia would maintain its centrality in addressing regional and international issues.
Malaysia, one of the countries with prolonged border issues with Indonesia, has been gearing up to face new negotiations after its prime minister, Najib Razak, openly told Jokowi that he wanted the issues to be resolved soon.
In the past, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur had been involved in tensions due to overlapping claims in Ambalat waters.
'Being tough and decisive does not necessarily mean confrontational. I will try not to be involved in confrontation, the most important thing is that our goals can be reached,' she said.
Her explanation of the Trisakti-based diplomacy, however, did not break down into applicable details or display much breakthrough, particularly when putting Jokowi's 'pro-people diplomacy' vision in the context of multilateral and bilateral relations.
Nevertheless, Retno managed to be straightforward in emphasizing that all diplomats 'must change their mindsets'.
'For instance, when an ambassador finds statistics showing that the number of tourists going to Indonesia from the country where he or she is posted is declining, the ambassador must be able to immediately make a report on the factors behind the decline, as well as efforts that have been carried out and that should be implemented in the
future,' Retno said.
Apart from meeting with journalists on Wednesday, the foreign minister also paid a courtesy call to the House of Representatives, where she was received by House Speaker Setya Novanto and his deputies. The speaker reportedly praised Retno's diplomacy skills, but without further elaboration.
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