The Jakarta Post
In an apparent move to show off his achievements, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Moeldoko has claimed that the 10 member states of ASEAN have acknowledged the leadership of the TNI, adding that the country deserves the position of a big brother in the regional grouping.
Speaking at a press conference after chairing a TNI leadership meeting on Monday, the general said that as the most important member of ASEAN, Indonesia holds a critical position in securing regional security and stability.
'We have a forum of ASEAN military commanders [and defense chiefs]. All of them have recognized our greatness,' said the 57-year-old general, who was promoted to his current position on Aug. 30 last year.
'We have a cooperation agreement between the TNI, ASEAN and Asia-Pacific countries. We are trying to make the TNI the big brother in ASEAN,' Moeldoko said, in apparent reference to the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Moeldoko said that the meeting also discussed the South China Sea dispute, adding that Indonesia hoped to be a pioneer in maintaining stability in the area by carrying out diplomacy with China and the US.
'After I was inaugurated [as military commander], I met with military commanders from the Philippines and Vietnam. Then I met the military commander from China to convey our concerns [on the South China Sea dispute],' Moeldoko said.
Along with Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam have overlapping claims on the South China Sea with China.
'I said to China's chief commander that Indonesia and [other] ASEAN countries understood about China's military development. However, we expected China would not create instability in the ASEAN region,' he said.
Moeldoko said he also expressed the same sentiment to US military commander Martin Dempsey.
Contacted separately, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Christiawan Nasir tried to tone down Moeldoko's statement, saying that ASEAN was and would always be the cornerstone of Indonesian foreign policy. Indonesia typically avoids making sensitive statements to its neighbors such as claiming to be a 'big brother'.
'The term 'big brother' refers to our cooperation with ASEAN countries. The context is the close cooperation [between ASEAN countries]. Despite our size, we don't want to dictate our interests in the region,' the diplomat told The Jakarta Post.
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