An estimated 20,000 students played the angklung, a bamboo instrument, setting a world record to celebrate the Asian-African Conference, at Bandung’s Siliwangi Stadium on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Jokowi Pleased With Asian-African Conference Results

APRIL 23, 2015

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo on Thursday closed the Jakarta leg of meetings of the Asian-African Conference as delegates head to Bandung for the closing ceremony on Friday.

At least 90 countries from the two continents have worked together to formulate three important documents: the Bandung Message; the Declaration on Reinvigorating the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership; and the Declaration on Palestine.

On Thursday, Joko officially authorized the documents as the outcome of the 60th commemoration of the high-level conference.

“I believe that the concepts that have been produced will reflect the Bandung Spirit and the interests of every country,” he said.

“I, therefore, would like to express my appreciation for the enthusiasm and the commitment of your majesties and excellencies, and of all parties involved in the formulation of the outcome documents and in the convening of this summit,” Joko said before the delegates at the Jakarta Convention Center.

He urged the world to listen to the voices and decisions made during the conference, saying the summit was one of the largest intergovernmental forums outside the framework of the United Nations, in which Asian and African countries, as well as a number of international observers, take part.

“The voices in the summit represent the voices of Asia and Africa,” Joko said.

He added that participating countries had also agreed to reinvigorate the core ideas of the South-South movement, namely prosperity, solidarity and stability of Asian and African nations.

“We have agreed to establish a network of peace-keeping centers in the two regions, to facilitate capacity-building cooperation,” Joko said.

The conference condemned acts of extremism and terrorism in the name of religion and resolved to promote dialogue between cultures and faiths, he said. The summit also agreed to foster trade and investment as the engine of growth.

"In this regard, we will pursue a fair, multilateral trading system, which is pro-growth and inclusive; which would contribute to growth, investment and job opportunities; and which promotes sustainable development,” Joko said.

He highlighted the Asian and African countries’ recognition of the centrality of the maritime sector as well as the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean in bridging the economic development of the two continents.

“In this regard, maritime cooperation will become one of the pillars of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership,” the president said.

“I will work hard with all of you to ensure the materialization of the strategic partnership. I will also strive, with your support, for the prosperity, equality and stability of all Asian and African countries,” he said, ending his remarks.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, co-chair of the day’s forum, said the three documents captured the ideas and visions of where Asian and African nations would lead in the future through the Bandung Spirit.

“This was a very successful meeting … There is no doubt therefore that this summit will be historic,” he said.

Joko also announced several other outcomes from the conference.

“I’m very glad to announce that we’ve established April 24 as Asia-Africa Day; reinforced Bandung as the city of Asian-African solidarity; and more importantly, the opening of the Asia Africa Center in Indonesia,” Joko told reporters.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi said her office, which organized the conference, had not yet decided where the center would be  located.

She said the countries would have another meeting to plan the venture.

“What we have prepared are the programs that will be run under the Asia Africa Center and also the modalities,” Retno said.

The United States, which attended the conference as an observer, praised Indonesia, saying it had long been a champion for peace and cooperation on the international stage.

“Very notably, however, over the past 17 years Indonesia also has become a model of democratic transformation, religious pluralism and tolerance, and economic development,” said Robert O. Blake, Jr., the US ambassador to Indonesia, who led his country’s delegation at the conference.

“It is now home to the world’s largest democracy after India and the United States,” he added.

He said that as a fellow democracy, the United States shared Indonesia’s respect for fundamental human rights — the first of 10 principles extolled by the original Bandung Conference in 1955.

“It is our hope that the countries attending this conference in 2015 will leave Bandung inspired by Indonesia’s commitment to a political system based on the consent of the governed, rule of law, and respect for human rights,” Blake said. “Countries whose policies respect and reflect these rights are far more likely to be more peaceful and more prosperous.”

The United States, the ambassador said, was fully committed to partnering with countries in Asia and Africa to advance cooperation and address shared challenges together.

The United States has been increasingly involved in Asia and the Pacific.

US President Barack Obama’s strategic decision to rebalance US efforts and resources toward the Asia-Pacific region is an example of how vital the region is to Washington’s interests.

Many, however, see the renewed US engagement in Asia as an attempt to counterbalance  China’s growing clout in the region.

“Our expanding engagement with Asia is about sustaining progress and stability in a region relatively free of conflict — a region where democracy increasingly has taken hold,” Blake said.

“Our rebalance provides for a win-win scenario in which every country in the region, including China, contributes to the continuation of decades of peace and stability.”

He added that beyond Bandung, challenges remained, including combating climate change, stopping the spread of infectious diseases, strengthening good governance, and countering violent ideologies and terrorism.

“The United States looks forward to cooperating with Indonesia and other countries represented at this conference to overcome these challenges,” Blake said.

Further coverage