The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo intelligently and correctly utilized the opportunity of his debut as the host of an international conference on Wednesday to send a very clear message about his government's bottom line on international affairs and Indonesia's standpoint.
His grand foreign policy guideline is a combination of the intention to maintain the fundamental platform of Indonesia's 'free and active' foreign policy as mandated by the Constitution and a strong sense of pragmatism due to the shifting world realities.
In his remarks to open the 60th anniversary commemoration of the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta on Wednesday, President Jokowi positioned himself as a resolute voice of developing countries in the face of industrialized nations without dramatizing the problems by simply blaming the rich.
The President demanded a much more balanced and fairer world order from the developed countries, such as in the distribution of sources of wealth, while at the same time calling on developing nations to stand on their own feet and step up cooperation among themselves rather than simply awaiting handouts from the rich.
'When hundreds of people in the North enjoy their super rich life and 1.2 billion in the South live in powerlessness and poverty, on incomes of less than US$2 per day, the injustices are obvious,' said the President.
The President also pointed to the necessity to build a new international economic order that is open to new emerging economic powers and the need to reform the United Nations and other international institutions, which are dominated by the advanced and militarily powerful nations.
'The view that global economic problems can only be solved by the World Bank, the IMF and the ADB is obsolete,' he said.
Indonesia has naturally always tried to take a moderate way and avoid confrontation with the West. We do not want to repeat the choice of founding President Sukarno who chose to fight the West and acted as the champion of the Third World but neglected his own tasks at home.
Many of Jokowi's key points in his speech were very similar to those of then president Soeharto when he opened the 10th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in September 1992. Soeharto insisted on the urgency to reform the UN and the need to boost South-South economic and trade cooperation and eradicate global injustices and the domination of a small number of rich and powerful nations.
The similarities indicate that there has been little progress in the realization of those aspirations toward the reduction of the hegemony of certain countries in the global economy and politics.
The gathering of Asian and African leaders, although not all of them are poor and underdeveloped, such as Japan and China, is the right moment to find concrete and effective measures to build a better home for millions of people in the two continents who are living in destitution and deprivation.
As President Jokowi has rightly pointed out, developing nations should do more than just blame others for their plight.
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