ANDRE OMER SIREGAR | The Jakarta Post
INDONESIAN PRESIDENT SUSILO BAMBANG YUDHOYONO has been active in the past few months strengthening bilateral relations with countries in the Pacific, while also fostering ways to connect the Pacific and Asia.
Within a span of less than three weeks between June and July, Indonesia had the privilege to receive four Pacific leaders including Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O’Neill.
With each of these leaders, SBY not only produced a new cooperation commitment and framework, he provided a sense of interregional partnership and a sincere outlook for deeper cooperation within the Asian-Pacific region.
With PNG, a new strategic comprehensive partnership was created that will go a long way in enhancing trade and investment relations while forging people-to-people contact, especially among those at the border.
In all these meetings, not only did the leaders reaffirm the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Indonesia, but they also sincerely appreciated Indonesia’s efforts to foster development and progress in the provinces and for the people of West Papua and Papua.
This support was evident from the genuine interactions between the Pacific leaders and SBY. Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands all considered Indonesia a big country looking out for small countries.
Prime Minister Lilo of the Solomons even generously said, “The leadership that Indonesia has taken in ASEAN and the region is important.
“And for Indonesia to extend that invitation to connect with small island states, it goes right down to show that here is a big country in the world that is able to reach out to small countries and bring them up and make them fit in and get more opportunities.”
Indeed, with 12 million Melanesians, which is more than the entire population in the Pacific, Indonesia has an interest in continuing to provide development options for these members of its society.
While challenges do prevail domestically, the interests of the Melanesian community will remain a priority as mandated by the Indonesian Constitution.
The regional meeting of ministers suggested by President SBY would serve as a good forum for foreign ministers to take a snapshot of new emerging threats, while providing Asian and Pacific countries concrete and humane options for medium- and long-term solutions to the people-smuggling issue.
In either way, Indonesia’s genuine and sincere good offices to forge partnership among countries — big, medium and small — should go down in history as an effort to dignify all states and empower them to play an equal and contributive role in international issues.
The writer is assistant special staff to the President for international relations. The views expressed are his own