The Jakarta Post | Marty M. Natalegawa | Opinion
By any measure, the first decade of the 21st century has been a momentous one for Indonesia. The decade witnessed the transformation of Indonesia into what has been hailed as the third largest democracy in the world.
As a result, some one quarter billion of humanity now enjoys the civil and political rights, in addition to economic and social rights hitherto denied them. A solid evidence that democracy, Islam and modernity can go hand in hand.
Not least, the past decade has proven another indisputable fact: the resilience of the Indonesian nation. Where once political obituaries were written about the demise of Indonesia gripped by multi dimensional crisis, not least separatist threats, Indonesia today is thriving as never before. Above all, where once self-generated doubts were common among some quarters about Indonesia’s role in the world, today opportunities abound.
Indeed, where foreign policy is concerned, the year ahead promises much in solidifying Indonesia’s place in the world: the reaping of its democratic dividend. A nation able to strengthen its contribution within its immediate region of Southeast Asia and yet at the same time enhancing its global interests and concerns. A nation able to concretize its vision of a thousand friends and zero enemy. All aimed at promoting its national interests.
Of course, in carrying out its foreign policy this year, Indonesia, like other nations, cannot be oblivious to the external milieu it is likely to face. If the past year provides any guide, it is that we are truly in the midst of a transformational phase in international relations. The tests the international community faced in 2009 make for a depressing list: financial, economic, energy and food crisis; threat of global pandemic; the challenge of climate change.
These are just a few examples. Multifaceted in its form and simultaneous in time. Their trans-boundary and indeed global nature remind that comprehensive solutions can be found only by means of international cooperation. Even the mightiest of nations find it impossible to address issues whose enduring characteristic is their non conformity with state boundaries. The year 2010 is unlikely to be any different. Thus, multilateral approach and solutions remain indispensable.
In 2010, Indonesia will continue to invest heavily in its multilateral diplomacy. The United Nations must remain central in addressing the various global challenges and crisis we are likely to face in the year ahead. To be effective, however, reform of the UN, in particular its Security Council, to better reflect the contemporary world, is essential.
Indonesia will continue to be at the forefront in promoting the role of the United Nations in tackling global crises and at the same time in calling for its reform. Democratization of governance, after all, extends beyond national boundaries. Democratization of global institutions and governance is equally key.
While confronting newly arisen crisis is the task of United Nations, its Charter-mandated responsibilities in promoting economic development and progress cannot be held in abeyance. The year 2010 will be particularly significant as the UN convene a special leaders meeting to review progress made in implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
Also not to be ignored is the unfinished business of climate change. Despite the nature of the challenge, the Copenhagen conference at the end of 2009, as anticipated, did not quite produce the legally binding outcome. Yet, it is important that positive momentum continue to be built with the objective of reaching a legally binding commitment during the course of 2010. Inaction is not an option.
Indonesia’s diplomacy will continue to actively strive to promote consensus and, at the same time, through concrete national actions, demonstrate what can be achieved if each nation shoulder its own responsibilities. Indeed, the year ahead is expected to bear witness to an enhanced role by Indonesia in building bridges among divides.
Our foreign policy will consistently project Indonesia as part of the solution to various global challenges; of a country keen to accentuate the overlapping of interests and concerns rather than competing interests and concerns. Such bridge-building endeavor will extend beyond the United Nations to include other multilateral fora within which Indonesia is active and in confronting the multitude of issues confronting the international community. Of note, among them, is Indonesia’s participation within the G20.
As G20 confirms its status as the premier forum on economic issues, Indonesia is challenged to carve a niche within the Group that is unique to itself as the world’s third largest democracy, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population and a voice of moderation. While we are likely to continue to confront transformational challenges in 2010 – at the same time, perennial and “traditional”, political and security challenges will continue. This mix of the traditional and non-traditional; the old and new is a reality that challenges the conduct of our foreign policy.
In the Middle East, Israeli-sourced violence and violation of international law and previously agreed commitments persist. Indonesia will continue to consistently support the Palestinian cause and the peace process aimed at realizing an independent Palestinian State. The reinvigoration of diplomatic efforts by the Quartet, including the United States, must be encouraged. Nor would Indonesia’s foreign policy in 2010 be oblivious to continuing difficulties in Afghanistan and Iraq.
There has not been a deficit of international attention on the situation in the aforementioned countries. Indonesia for its part will stand ready to contribute in a manner that is in keeping with its own capacities and foreign policy principles and, of course, based on the assessed needs identified by the countries themselves.
Despite the renewed attention on the perceived nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula and Iran, the year 2010 is likely to be notable for the likely promise it offers to make substantial progress on efforts to create a world free of nuclear weapons. The responsibilities resting on the nuclear weapon states to ensure deep cuts in their nuclear armaments are clear.
Nationally, as well as Coordinator of the Non-Aligned Movement on disarmament issues, Indonesia will play an active role in the forthcoming NPT review Conference in New York in May 2010. Indonesia also will continue to play an active role within the NAM. Such a role will be complemented by continued active engagement within the G77 as well as the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The writer is Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia. The article is an abridged version of the minister’s annual policy statement on Jan. 8.
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