Indonesia is hosting the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Nusa Dua, Bali, this week. The Jakarta Post’s Desy Nurhayati and Abdul Khalik spoke to Djauhari Oratmangun, the Foreign Ministry’s director general for ASEAN cooperation, on the sidelines of the grouping’s senior official meeting on Sunday. Below are excerpts from the interview:
Question: What main issues will be raised during this forum as a follow-up to the 18th ASEAN Summit?
Answer: We will be consistently projecting the three priorities of Indonesia as the current chair of ASEAN. The first is to ensure that there is a significant progress in the formation of an ASEAN Community.
Second, to ensure that the regional architecture and environment remain conducive to the pursuit of development in the region, including to ensure that ASEAN remains in the driving seat in shaping an expanded East Asian Summit, as well as strengthening ASEAN’s other partnerships with dialogue partners.
With the inclusion of the US and Russia in the regional architecture, we bring the concept of dynamic equilibrium where there is no dominant power, but we keep the equilibrium to achieve common prosperity.
We are also looking forward to implementing this concept in maintaining relations with dialogue partners and the EAS, where leaders will discuss strategic issues with regional and global impacts. This is a forum for us to morally ensure that the leaders guarantee peace and stability in this region through frequent dialogue. This regional architecture should also contribute to the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015.
The third priority is to focus on charting a post-2015 vision for ASEAN where there will be a more cohesive ASEAN role in addressing global issues, how we play a role in finding solutions for various global issues and at the same time putting forward a common ASEAN platform. Our leaders discussed this at the last summit and ministers will follow up.
With the concept of the ASEAN Community, we have to start from now instead of waiting for the formation of the ASEAN Community, including on how to elevate comprehensive partnerships between ASEAN and the UN and also with international bodies such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank within the context of ASEAN connectivity.
We will also start preparing a draft for the Joint Declaration of the ASEAN Community, although the declaration will only be decided in November. We will make a 10-year roadmap to 2022 on how to engage with the global community under the ASEAN common platform.
What is at the top of the agenda on discussion of politics and security?
We will discuss further the idea to build an institute for peace and reconciliation in ASEAN. In this meeting, we expect a final decision on the establishment. This institute would provide recommendations and advice to member states whenever conflict occurs and on how to manage potential conflicts. It will be a research institute comprising experts, representative of governments, or an eminent persons group.
We want to use the momentum of 20 years of ASEAN-China relations to address the issue of the South China Sea. ASEAN and China have a DOC [Declaration on the Conduct of Parties] and next year we will commemorate 10 years since the DOC was signed in Cambodia. We should move forward to implement the joint cooperation underlined in the DOC.
ASEAN member states have also agreed to have a Joint Declaration on the Trafficking in Persons. This would be our priority in the political and security context.
We will also start discussing the SEANWFZ [Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone] Treaty by lobbying five nuclear powers to join as parties. We will likely raise this issue during meeting with our dialogue partners.
What about economic issues?
ASEAN economic ministers will meet in August in Manado, North Sulawesi, where they will discuss closing the gap not only among ASEAN member states, but also within each state, to build equitable economies.
Nuclear explanation: Foreign Ministry director general for ASEAN cooperation Djauhari Oratmangun (center) chairs a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ) executive committee meeting at the Bali International Convention Center, Nusa Dua, Bali, on Sunday. Antara/Widodo S. Jusuf.
ASEAN connectivity, for the time being, is being addressed by the ACC [ASEAN Coordinating Council]. Each member state has its own representative in the council, but at the national level we should also have a coordinating council.
We have also started some infrastructure projects, in cooperation with dialogue partners and donor organizations.
This ASEAN connectivity is in line with our six economic corridors. Our domestic connectivity has also greatly contributed to the region’s connectivity and we could make the most of it if we built more comprehensive partnerships with dialogue partners.
Can you comment on the grouping’s progress in the sociocultural and people-to-people field?
To raise awareness on sociocultural issues within ASEAN, we will hold the ASEAN Fair during the November summit. The fair will take place from three weeks before the summit to one week after. We will also invite member states to participate, so it will be a real ASEAN Fair, not an Indonesian Fair on ASEAN.
Another important issue is how we are able to bring ASEAN to the people and improving people-to- people programs through youth and prominent people exchange of visits and other activities.
Have the three priorities Indonesia proposed gained the support of all member states?
Yes, and our target this year is to collect feedback from member states on what we could achieve by 2015. We have issued several joint statements, on the need to establish an institute for peace and reconciliation, on trafficking in persons, and on the ASEAN Community. Our task is to elaborate and negotiate the contents of the joint statements to make joint declarations.
Is there any progress on the resolution of the border conflict between Thailand and Cambodia?
We initiated a meeting last February, and tensions have significantly decreased, although there remain some minor disturbances. We need to wait for Thailand to form its new government and see how the situation develops before deciding on the next step. This issue will be Indonesia’s priority as ASEAN chair, and ASEAN foreign ministers will discuss this after Thailand has formed its new government. –Abdul Khalik and Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post
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