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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Eight ambassadors presented their letters of credence to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday (12/01).

Five of the ambassadors received are ambassadors in residence and three non-resident ambassadors.

The new ambassadors in residence are Jean-Charles Berthonnet of France, Benabdellah Ouadia of the Kingdom of Morocco, Rui Fernando Sucena Do Carmo of Portugal, Joseph R. Donovan of the United States, and Azmal Kabir of Bangladesh.

The new non-resident ambassadors to Indonesia are Mauritius' Ambassador to Malaysia Isop Patel, Rwanda's Ambassador to Singapore Guillaume Kavuruganda, and Marshall Islands' Ambassador to Japan Tom D. Kijiner.

During the ceremony, the president was accompanied by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, State Secretary Pratikno and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung.

 
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            [post_excerpt] => Eight ambassadors presented their letters of credence to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday (12/01).
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                            [title] => Presiden Joko Widodo (ketiga kanan) didampingi Menteri Luar Negeri L.P. Retno Marsudi (kanan) menerima delapan Duta Besar Luar Biasa dan Berkuasa Penuh (LBBP) di Istana Merdeka, Jakarta, Kamis (12/1).
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Indonesia's diplomacy will continue to contribute to a peaceful and more prosperous world with shared benefits for all, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Tuesday (10/01).

Speaking at her annual press address, Retno touched on the country's diplomatic outlook for the year ahead. She touched on strengthening contributions to Asean, optimizing support for a non-permanent member seat on the United Nations Security Council, settling maritime and land boundaries and prioritizing counter-terror efforts through the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC).

The country will focus on establishing lasting territorial boundaries with Timor Leste and Malaysia.

“[Indonesia is] intensifying development, trade and investment cooperation with potential markets, especially with countries in Africa and Latin America,” Retno said.

Indonesia will host the Indian Ocean Rim Association Summit as well as regional consultation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Prepcom in March.

The minister also reflected on regional uncertainties, conflicts and threats, while reassuring that Indonesian diplomacy has worked to advance the national interest and contribute to peace and stability.

Retno encouraged increased international cooperation in order to improve stability, peace and welfare of the world.

“None of us can afford to have an unstable and non-peaceful world,” Retno said.

She also confirmed Indonesia's unwavering position on South China Sea, with the country's maritime borders overlapping only with Malaysia and Vietnam.

“A Continental Shelf delimitation with the two countries has been concluded, while exclusive economic zone is currently being negotiated,” Retno said.

She added that Indonesia believes resolving boundaries with neighboring states will prove that “overlapping claims can be resolved peacefully.”

Retno also emphasized on Indonesia’s push for the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct between Asean and China to ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea.

She also tipped Palestine as a major diplomatic focus, with a target of achieving the 4000 Peacekeepers Vision by 2019, committing to Palestinian Independence, reinforcing the Bali Democracy Forum on its tenth anniversary and protecting Indonesian nationals around the world.

“This year’s agenda will be dynamic and will rise to the challenges ahead,” Retno said in her statement’s conclusion.
            [post_title] => Foreign Policy Outlook 2017: Focus on Borders, Counter-Terrorism, Palestine
            [post_excerpt] => Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Tuesday (10/01) assured the continued work of Indonesia’s diplomacy to contribute to a peaceful, more prosperous world with shared benefits for world citizens.
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            [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_563" align="aligncenter" width="614"]Former Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo raises his finger after voting in last year gubernatorial election. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad) Former Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo raises his finger after voting in last year gubernatorial election. (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad)[/caption]

The government has submitted the names of 20 candidates, nominated to fill vacant ambassadorships, to the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Among the names are those of former Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo as well as high-ranking police and military officers such as Sr. Comr. Ito Sumardi and Lt. Gen. Johny Lumintang. Also on the list is relatively unknown Nurul Qomar.

Golkar politician Muhammad Misbakhun criticized the government’s choice of candidates, saying it was a list of the president’s friends and people who had served with him during his terms in office.

“The way I see it, some of the ambassadorships [are] gifts for former officials who served during SBY’s regime,” he said on Tuesday, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono by his initials.

Misbakhun also pointed out that some of the nominees had not established a track record as high achievers in their previous positions.

Meanwhile, the lawmaker said, ambassadors needed to have a good understanding of Indonesia’s foreign policies so they could convince other countries to accommodate Indonesia’s interests and form closer ties.

“Retired officials should spend their retirement in Indonesia rather than [automatically] becoming ambassadors.”

Mahfudz Siddik, a member of the House of Representatives Commission I which oversees defense and foreign affairs, said ambassadorial positions were the president’s prerogative, with the commission merely offering support in terms of information about the candidates.

“The House only provides input and notes based on the fit and proper test. But the final decision lies with the president.”

But he said the lawmakers still had a valuable role to play in terms of providing input.

“Yes, all the input from the lawmakers should be taken into account,” the Prosperous Justice Party politician said.

Mahfudz said Commission I was in the process of preparing fit and proper test for the candidates, scheduled it for Sept. 18.

Fauzi Bowo

Commission I deputy chairman Ramadhan Pohan said the president’s decision to recommend Fauzi Bowo as ambassador to Germany made sense.

“It’s not surprising to see the government recommend Fauzi Bowo. That’s because he graduated from Germany and has rich knowledge and experience on Germany,” Ramadhan said.

He added that since Fauzi had the advantage of speaking the local language it would make it easier for him to achieve mission priorities and generally avoid running into problems.

He said it was not unreasonable to expect Fauzi to improve bilateral ties between Indonesia and Germany.

Susaningtyas Nefo Handayani Kertopati, also a member of Commission I, agreed that Fauzi was the right choice to head up Indonesia’s mission to Europe’s largest economy.

“I think he is the right one for Germany because he studied there and has many friends and speaks German fluently,” said Susaningtyas, who is a member of the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura).

No joke

One of the names proposed by the government as an ambassador was Nurul Qomar, who was recommended head Indonesia’s embassy in Brunei Darussalam.

The initial reaction of many who learned about it was that former comedian Nurul Qomar did not have much of a public sector background, let alone foreign policy experience.

However, Ramadhan pointed out that this was a relatively common name and he couldn’t be sure whether or not it referred to the former entertainer who was elected to the House in 2004, and then again in 2009, the second time on the Democrat Party ticket.

“Which Nurul Qomar ... let’s find out first,” Ramadhan said.

“There is only one Fauzi Bowo but there are several Nurul Qomars. I think that’s a different person.”

Golkar Party’s Tantowi Yahya clarified that the nominee in question was a career diplomat currently serving in the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

“It’s not Qomar the comedian. It is a career diplomat,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tantowi said the government’s choice of Yusron Ihza Mahendra — a lawyer, former Commission I member and brother of a former Justice and Human Rights Minister — as ambassador to Japan struck him as somewhat unusual.

“There’s something interesting in the list of ambassadorial candidates and that’s the inclusion of Yusron’s name as the candidate for ambassador to Japan,” he said.

Tantowi was of the opinion that Yusron was not old enough for a country such as Japan, where seniority is highly valued.

He said regardless of whether it was something that had already been mentioned by the Japanese counterparts, they would surely be expecting Indonesia to appoint a more senior person to fill the top diplomatic post.

“It would be interesting to see, in the fit and proper test, why the president recommended Yusron,” Tantowi said.

The criteria

International relations observer Hikmahanto Juwana, however, did not see anything amiss with the nominations of either Fauzi Bowo or Yusron Ihza Mahendra, echoing the opinions of others who felt they were best suited to represent Indonesia.

“An ambassadorship is a political position. The most important thing is that an ambassador acts as an administrator and mediator between Indonesia and the country to which he or she is assigned, and that he understands that country,” Hikmahanto said.

Fauzi will make a good ambassador to Germany because he has administrative experience, was the governor of Jakarta, and once lived and studied in Germany.

“Foke [Fauzi] and Yusron have been there before. Yusron once studied and worked in Japan. Even without having ever worked in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, at least they are familiar with the country where they will be posted as ambassadors,” he said.

Regarding the nomination of Ito Sumardi as ambassador to Myanmar, Hikmahanto said previous ambassadors to that country had likewise come from a police or military background.

He added that no matter who was appointed they needed to be able to represent Indonesia’s interests and that this was the bottom-line in all cases where an ambassadorship was involved.

“Ambassadors need to be able to speak for Indonesia and able to carry out their duties in accordance with the mandate.”

Hikmahanto mentioned information gathering and report writing as another important part of the mandate, so that the government would have a solid basis for formulating foreign policy.

But he pointed out that the job description was actually open-ended.

“You have to see what an ambassador can do,” he said, indicating that it wasn’t always clear in advance how he or she would best be able to advance the country’s interests overseas — perhaps by promoting tourism or facilitating bilateral exchanges for the benefit of Indonesian entrepreneurs or foreign investors, he suggested.

Hikmahanto said an ambassador might come from various backgrounds including the military, the academy, politics or the foreign service.

At the same time, he emphasized that an ambassadorship wasn’t a “left over” to be awarded in cases where there did not seem to be anything else to give.

Musical chairs

President Yudhoyono is reportedly also planning to replace Indonesia’s ambassador to the United States, Dino Pati Djalal with Foreign Affairs secretary general Budi Bowoleksono.

That way, the reports say, Dino will be able to take over as chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), replacing Chatib Basri who has been appointed finance minister.

Chatib said he did not know who his successor would be, but that it if was Dino, he would be supportive of the decision.

“The president hasn’t said anything,” he said, while singling Dino out for praise.

He said he had done a good job as a diplomat and succeeded in introducing Indonesia to major foreign investors.

He added that Dino had a robust network, which was important for a BKPM chairman.
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            [post_content] => As Indonesia and Kazakhstan mark 20 years of diplomatic relations, officials from both sides called for stronger bilateral ties amid news of a presidential visit to the Central Asian nation.

Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Indonesia, Askhat Orazbay, announced on Thursday that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was scheduled to visit Kazakhstan this coming September.

Orazbay, addressing a round table meeting on bilateral cooperation held to mark the two decades of diplomatic ties, cited many similarities between the nations.

Both countries, he said, are states with predominantly Muslim multi-ethnic populations, hold strategic geopolitical locations and share similar positions on a range of current international issues.

He said the visit “will give a strong impetus to further develop mutually beneficial bilateral relations between our two countries and will open up opportunities for boosting economic cooperation.”

“Indonesia and Kazakhstan share similar nation-building targets. Like Indonesia, our country is on the path of industrial innovative development,” Orazbay said, adding that both countries enjoyed peace and stability at home, allowing for economic growth rates of more than 5 percent.

Wahid Supriyadi, an economic, social and cultural affairs expert at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, agreed that Yudhoyono’s upcoming visit would open up more opportunities for the two countries to bolster their relationship.

He said bilateral trade had grown 16 percent in the last five years and in 2012 alone by 90 percent to $63million.

Rizal Affandi Lukman, a deputy to the coordinating minister for economic affairs, said the leaders of both countries had set a target of raising the bilateral trade value to $100 million by 2017.

“There is a lot of room for us to expand,” he said.

Rizal added that both countries stood to benefit through cooperation, not only with each other but also with the regional organizations of which they were part.

He pointed to Indonesia’s membership in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is looking toward the start of greater economic cooperation with an Asean Economic Community in 2015.

Kazakhstan, for its part, has entered into a custom union agreement with Russia and Belarus.
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            [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_163917" align="aligncenter" width="614"]Jakarta protestors draw parallels between Indonesian Papua and British-occupied Northern Ireland. (EPA Photo/Adi Weda) Jakarta protestors draw parallels between Indonesian Papua and British-occupied Northern Ireland. (EPA Photo/Adi Weda)[/caption]

Noises of fury over the launching of a Free West Papua Campaign office in Britain continued to emerge from the Indonesian government on Tuesday, although one lawmaker was more philosophical.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said he could not understand why the British government was unwilling to take steps against the Free West Papua office, opened in Oxford last month.

“We see this as completely at odds with the enthusiastic friendship between our two nations, and hope they can understand why we feel so upset,” Marty said at the State Palace on Tuesday.

The minister said he assumed that the office had been established in accordance with Oxford local regulations, but asked that the British government nevertheless step in.

“One more time, we’re asking the British government to try to understand why this cannot be tolerated, what they’re doing,” Marty said.

But a prominent Indonesian lawmaker said that government should not be surprised by the development.

“The integrity of the Unitary State of Indonesia is in our own hands,” People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Deputy Speaker Hajriyanto Thohari said in Senayan on Tuesday.

“We can’t leave it up to other nations. Of course the government has to stay on guard,” the senior Golkar Party figure added.

“We often hear that officially, international leaders, including from the big Western governments, say they’re supportive, that Papua is a part of Indonesia,” he said.

“But look at the case of the exit of East Timor from Indonesia in the old days. How much the Western nations said they supported our sovereignty. But along the way, due to the interference of foreign nations, the province was lost,” Hajriyanto said. “The West is always like that, you can’t trust them completely.”

Indonesian media has reported that the campaign office belongs to the Free Papua Movement (OPM), an armed paramilitary organization operating from various hotspots of dissent across Papua and West Papua provinces.

The Free West Papua Campaign, however, is an organization comprised predominantly of British citizens with the stated aim of highlighting the human rights situation in Papua and campaigning for a referendum on the future of the region.

The launching of the campaign office was attended by the local member of the British House of Commons for Oxford East, Andrew Smith, and an Indonesian-born Papuan, Benny Wenda.

Benny was granted political asylum by the British government following his escape from custody while on trial for what his supporters say were trumped-up charges designed to silence the Papuan leader.

Benny’s arrest came shortly after four Indonesian Special Forces (Kopassus) soldiers abducted and murdered popular pro-independence figure Theys Eluay.

During his 2002 trial on charges carrying a possible 25 year prison sentence, Benny escaped from detention with the help of sympathizers and made it across Indonesia’s border with Papua New Guinea. With the help of human rights activists, he made his way to Britain.

In 2011 the Indonesian government sought Interpol’s help by issuing a red notice requesting Benny’s arrest and extradition to Indonesia.

The red notice was however rejected by the international police organization in 2012 after an investigation concluded that the allegations against Benny were “politically motivated and an abuse of the system.”

After he was summoned on Monday by the Indonesian government, British ambassador Mark Canning issued a statement intended to defuse the tension.

“The position of [the] British government on this matter is quite clear. We respect the territorial integrity of Indonesia and do not support calls for Papuan independence. We regard Papua as being part of Indonesia.”
            [post_title] => Oxford 'Free West Papua' Office Furore Smolders on in Indonesia
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            [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_3714" align="aligncenter" width="650"]President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Ani wave as they prepare to fly from Berlin to Budapest on Wednesday. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)  President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Ani wave as they prepare to fly from Berlin to Budapest on Wednesday. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)[/caption]

Budapest/Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has defended himself against accusations that he went overseas too frequently, saying that if anything he was very selective about choosing his international engagements.

In a statement in Budapest on Thursday, where he is on a state visit, Yudhoyono said that given Indonesia’s rising international profile and growing multilateral ties, he received invitations to more engagements overseas than his predecessors.

He cited the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is now held twice a year from the previous schedule of once every three years.

He also said that Indonesia’s entry into the G-20, along with its long-held commitments to international forums such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, meant that he had to represent Indonesia on a growing number of fronts.

“If I attended all these meetings, I’d be out of the country even more than I am now,” Yudhoyono said.

“That’s why I restrict my overseas trips and instead send the vice president, the foreign minister or other ministers to represent me.”

He added that certain trips, such as his current series of state visits to Germany and Hungary, were very important and he could not pass up on them.

“So I don’t think it’s fair to say that I spend more time traveling abroad than any of my predecessors,” he said.

Speaking to Indonesian reporters in Budapest, the president stressed that “the number of international engagements I should be attending is far higher than the number that I can attend.”

“You should tell the Indonesian people that overseas trips are very important for Indonesia, especially considering our rising position in the world,” he said.

His remarks came on the heels of criticism by a senior official from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) that the president’s frequent overseas visits were a waste of public money.

“The president goes on an overseas trip almost every two months,” Fadli Zon, the Gerindra deputy chairman, said in Jakarta on Thursday.

“When can he focus on managing domestic affairs? Yudhoyono should have gone to Papua when the eight soldiers and four civilians were killed.”

Yudhoyono and his entourage, which includes Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan and Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat, left the country on Sunday for the visit to Germany and Hungary, and are expected back today. Among other agenda items, Yudhoyono attended the opening of an international tourism exhibition in Berlin.

Fadli said he had to criticize Yudhoyono’s latest trip because Europe was experiencing a deep economic crisis. Amid the downturn, it would be hard to sell Indonesia’s tourism to Europeans, he argued, adding that this was evident in the fact that European tourist arrivals to Indonesia had dropped by 6 percent.

“Promoting tourism amid the crisis will not be effective,” he said.

“Yudhoyono should have been selective and limited his overseas trips. Last month he went to Nigeria when as a matter of fact the trade balance with Nigeria has been flat for the past 15 years.”

Fadli said that as the president neared the end of his presidential term, he should be focusing more on domestic affairs, of which there were many issues still requiring his attention.

“Overseas trips are mostly ceremonial and are just an effort to build reputation. He should conduct more impromptu visits and pay more attention to the people directly,” he said.
            [post_title] => Indonesia Too Important to Avoid Trips Abroad: SBY
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            [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_2404" align="aligncenter" width="614"]Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (L) listens to Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit in front of the Brandenburg Gate during his visit in Berlin on March 5, 2013. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is in Berlin to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and inaugurate the ITB Berlin tourism fair, one of the top industry gatherings. (AFP Photo/Adam Berry) Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (L) listens to Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit in front of the Brandenburg Gate during his visit in Berlin on March 5, 2013. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is in Berlin to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and inaugurate the ITB Berlin tourism fair, one of the top industry gatherings. (AFP Photo/Adam Berry)[/caption]

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with German President Joachim Gauck and business leaders on Monday following his arrival in Berlin on Sunday night for a state visit to follow up on key points of cooperation raised in Jakarta last July. Yudhoyono, whose entourage includes Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan and Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat, said it was important for Indonesia, the 15th biggest economy in the world, to strengthen ties with Germany, the biggest economy in the euro zone and No. 4 in the world. He noted that the bilateral trade balance was slightly in Germany’s favor, with German exports to Indonesia last year valued at $3.3 billion, and Indonesian exports to Germany valued at $2.59 billion. But Yudhoyono also stressed the need for more investment by German companies in Indonesia, pointing out that in 2012 it only amounted to $75 million. “We need to push for not just more trade, but also more investment,” he said following one-on-one talks with the chief executives of carmaker Volkswagen, electronics giant Siemens and Ferrostaal, an industrial service company. His talk with Gauck focused on partnerships in trade and investment, defense, research and technology, health and education, which were conceived during a visit to Indonesia by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last July. The “Jakarta Declaration” also covers food and energy resilience and cooperation in the transportation sector. “All stakeholders must be on board [for the partnership to work]. The governments, legislators, businesses, people and mass media [of both countries] must work together to help push for the progress of our peoples,” Yudhoyono said. The president is scheduled to hold talks with Merkel today, in which the points in the Jakarta Declaration will also be high on the agenda. The two leaders are also expected to announce the names of members of the Indonesia-German Advisory Group, a gathering of eminent figures from both countries. Also on Tuesday, Yudhoyono is scheduled to open the International Tourism Bourse, the world’s biggest travel show, with Merkel. The Indonesian government says some 143,000 Germans visited Indonesia last year, but insists that there is potential for even higher numbers. During his German visit, Yudhoyono is also scheduled to meet with Horst Kohler, a former German president, and Klaus Wowereit, the mayor of Berlin. He will head to Budapest later on Tuesday for a three-day state visit to Hungary that is expected to “revitalize” Indonesia’s bilateral relationship with “one of the key nations” in central and eastern Europe, Teuku Faizasyah, the president’s spokesman for foreign affairs, said on Friday. “Hungary has a strategic position to Indonesia as an entrance for Indonesia’s economic interests to the east and central Europe regions,” he said. Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Friday that the president was mulling a weapons deal with Hungary. “In the past, the Indonesian military often used weaponry from the Eastern Bloc states,” he said after a meeting with Yudhoyono in Jakarta. Faizasyah said that Yudhoyono’s meeting with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, would discuss efforts to boost bilateral relations, specifically in the economic sector.

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