Strengthening Indonesian Existence in Southern Pacific

South Pacific Islands - Jubi
South Pacific Islands – Jubi

Jakarta, Jubi – The visit of an Indonesian delegation to Papua New Guinea and Republic Fiji on 30 March to 3 April 2016 confirms the seriousness of Jakarta in its efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with the countries in the Southern Pacific region.

The visit led by the Coordianating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan to two members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is not the first conducted by a cabinet member of Widodo’s administration.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno L.P. Marsudi made her first visit to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji recently. The Minister of Foreign Affairs Milner Tozaka in Honiara welcomed her during her visit to Solomon Islands on 28 February 2015. .

Both foreign ministers admitted both Indonesia and Solomon Islands have Melanesian background and cultural heritage that could help the realization of close bilateral relations between two countries for the benefit of both contries and people.

They both also recognized the importance of the principle of mutual respect on territorial integrity in building the bilateral relations of two countries in addition to strengthening the partnership in economic and human relationship sectors in particular through the capacity building and technical assistance.

Regarding to valuable position of the countries in the Southern Pacific region for the Indonesian foreign political policy, it has confirmed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs A.M. Fachir at the 20th MSG Summit held at Heritage Park Hotel, Honiara, Solomon Islands on 26 June 2015.

For Indonesia, which has 11 million of Melanesian ascendants spreading in five provinces of Papua, Papua Barat, Maluku, Maluku Utara and Nusa Tenggara Timur, Pacific region is ‘a main priority’, he said during his speech before the leaders of MSG country members.

The President Joko Widodo’s official visit to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 11 – 12 May 2015 by the invitation of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is ‘a real reflection of this priority’, said Deputy Minister A.M. Fachir.

As conveyed by the Deputy Minister before the forum, which accepted the full membership of Indonesia and gave observer status to ULMWP, the commitment of Indonesia for MSG is ‘real and concrete’. Even Indonesia committed to assist the MSG country members to be more involved with the broader international community through Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation and Asia Africa Conference.

On Fachir’s point of view, the open access of connectivity between Melanesian community in MSG country members and 11 million Indonesian citizens of Melanesian ascendants spreading in five Indonesian provinces would pave the way for more open access to the broader Indonesian market.

“Indonesia is willing to be the gate, even it could also act as a gateway for products of the countries in the Southern Pacific region to enter to the ASEAN market,” he said.

The opportunity of collaboration between Indonesia and MSG country memebrs is not limited in economic and trading sectors, but also cooperation in disaster mitigation due to the impact of climate change and improvement of people’s welfare is very opened.

But above the entire opportunities in strengthening both bilateral and multilateral relations, Deputy Minister A.M. Fachir reminded the agreement on MSG Establishment in 2007, in which mentioned ‘MSG members are fully respect the principles of the international law governing the international relations’.

Among those principles, the MSG members must respect to the principles of sovereignty, equal independence to the entire nation, and do not intervene the domestic affairs of the country members, he said.

What the deputy minister in MSG Forum in Honiara delivered was very unfounded moreover the internationalization of Papua issue and campaign containing of lawsuit over the validity of the implementation of the Referendum Act of Free Papua 1969 keep ongoing.

Professor of the Faculty of Law from the University of Indonesia, Professor Hikmahanto Juwana admitted this reality in his introductory note to the book by Nico Gere titled “Maintaining Indonesian Sovereignty in Papua: Revitalization of the Principles of Sovereignty and Non-intervention in the UN Charter’ (2015.

“Papua is Indonesia. But some people in Papua and a number of NGOs abroad still could not accept this reality. Therefore, the Indonesian sovereignty in the land of Papua shall continue to be treated,” he wrote in the book published by Perum LKBN Antara.

In the midst of this reality, the visit of the Indonesian delegation to Papua New Guinea, a country that will host the 21st MSG Summit in 2017, and Republic of Fiji is conducted.

According to Deputy of Communication, Information and Administrative Department of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Agus Ruchyan Barnas, in his visit to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on 30 March, the Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan is scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

From Port Moresby, the Indonesian delegation would continue their bilateral mission to Suva, the capital of Republic of Fiji on 31 March to 1 April. In the visit to Suva, the minister is also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister of Fiji V.J. Bainimarama.

“Included in the agenda of visit of the Indonesian delegation to the Republic of Fiji is the delivery of human aid and deployment of a contingent of army engineer to help the reconstruction process for the post-Winston hurricane disaster that hit the country in last February,” said Agus.

A helping hand from Indonesia to the government and people of Fiji is reflecting the proverb “a true friend is a friend in joy and sorrow”. Indonesia did the similar act when Vanuatu was destroyed by Pam hurricane on 17 March 2015. (*/rom)