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Jakarta Post

RI, Brazil in diplomatic row over executions

  • Hans Nicholas Jong and Nani Afrida

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, February 22, 2015   /  06:57 am

Lawmakers and analysts have backed the Indonesian government'€™s decision to recall its new ambassador to Brazil, saying that the South American country'€™s government had overreacted to the execution of its citizen for drug offenses and that the move could harm business ties between the two countries.

Following Brazil'€™s move to postpone accepting the credentials of ambassador-designate Toto Riyanto, the House of Representatives has threatened to reevaluate the country'€™s defense partnership with Brazil as a sign of support for the Foreign Ministry'€™s decision.

'€œIndonesia and Brazil have been partners and we allocated some funds in the 2009-2014 state budget to purchase Super Tucano aircraft from Brazil to secure our coastline,'€ member of House Commission I overseeing political, security and foreign affairs Tantowi Yahya said.

Indonesia has also ordered multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) from Brazil.

Tantowi said that lawmakers would hold a meeting with the Defense Ministry to evaluate whether Brazil'€™s government had changed its stance toward Indonesia.

Apart from the weapons systems, Indonesia also imports meat from Brazil.

'€œI think Brazil needs us more than we need them. We have an emergency situation with drugs and we don'€™t need to be afraid of pressure from Brazil and Australia,'€ Tantowi said.

University of Indonesia international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana said that Indonesia made the right move by recalling Toto.

He said on Saturday that Indonesia had to resort to the action because Brazil had violated diplomatic protocol. '€œWhat the Foreign Ministry has done is right. Of course Indonesia could not accept such treatment.'€

Hikmahanto warned that with its action, Brazil could harm its relations with Indonesia.

'€œThe Brazilian government is putting its relations with Indonesia at risk by trying to do too much to protect a citizen who has committed a serious crime,'€ he said.

The Indonesian government recalled its new ambassador to Brazil after the envoy was snubbed in a ceremony to accept his credentials organized by the South American country'€™s presidential office on Friday.

The Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that it had recalled Toto in protest at a delay in accepting the envoy'€™s credentials.

The incident happened only four weeks after the execution of a Brazilian national at Nusakambangan prison island off the coast of Central Java for drug smuggling.

The ministry said that Jakarta could not accept the postponement because Toto had been invited to the ceremony.

'€œThe Foreign Ministry regrets the Brazilian government'€™s decision to suddenly delay the acceptance of the credentials after it invited ambassador-designate Toto Riyanto to the ceremony at the presidential palace at 9 a.m. [Friday Brazil time]. The Indonesian government does not accept the way the Brazilian foreign minister delayed the credentials acceptance after the ambassador-designate had arrived at the palace,'€ the ministry said in a statement.

Jakarta summoned the Brazilian ambassador to Indonesia on Friday night '€œto convey our strong protest against [Brazil'€™s] unfriendly act'€.

Last month, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said she was outraged at the execution of Brazilian drug convict Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira and immediately recalled the Brazilian ambassador to Indonesia. Another Brazilian national, Rodrigo Muxfeldt Gularte, who was convicted of drug trafficking offenses, is on the list for the next batch of executions.

With regard to the delay in accepting the credentials, Rousseff said Brazil needed to evaluate the state of relations between the two countries.

'€œWe think it is important for there to be an evolution in the situation in order to clarify the state of Indonesia'€™s relations with Brazil,'€ Rousseff said as she received the credentials of ambassadors from five other countries; El Salvador, Panama, Venezuela, Senegal and Greece.

Rousseff said that clearance for Indonesia'€™s representative would be '€œheld up a little'€ with Brasilia and Jakarta at loggerheads over the impending execution of Gularte, who has been on death row since 2004 for smuggling 6 kilograms of cocaine into Indonesia in surfboards.

'€œWhat we did was delay the acceptance of credentials, that'€™s all,'€ she said as quoted by Agence France-Presse in Brasilia.

The move came as Rousseff is struggling to maintain her popularity. Since narrowly winning reelection four months ago with 51.6 percent of the vote, her approval ratings have nearly halved.

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