Tue, 31 Mar 2009
IRANGIKA RANGE

Indonesia is no longer export-dependent and its robust agricultural sector has provided food security. That is why Indonesia is still in a position to achieve at least a four percent economic growth in spite of the global crisis, visiting Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Hassan Wirajuda said.

Delivering a lecture on “Indonesian Foreign Policy and the ASEAN at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies yesterday, Dr. Wirajuda said that the country maintains a huge domestic market brimming with consumer confidence though almost all nations have been severely affected by the global economic and financial crisis.

”Like other developing countries, we in Indonesia addressed these challenges and learned a few things in the process,”he said. One of the most important lessons that we learned is that development, promotion and protection of human rights and democracy are inseparable.

”We suffered a negative growth of 13.5 percent in 1997. The nation was in social turmoil and our political leadership was in crisis. That was when we realized that man does not live by bread alone. He must also have his freedom. A country does not survive on economic growth alone and it must also achieve commensurable political development.

Today we have a new Indonesia, a fully-fledged democracy. The wielders of power are subject to legal restraints including by the Constitutional Court. There is a system of checks and balance among our branches of Government. “We have today a vibrant and courageous mass media and a vigilant civil society,” he said

”We will relentlessly pursue our regional integration and go beyond it to a system of global policy coordination so that a crisis like this will not descend on humankind again,” he said.

”It is in this spirit of one developing ones country reaching out to another so that they can help each other and learn from each other That is why I am here today,” he said.

He said that Indonesia has quite a few things in common with Sri Lanka. For instance, both are developing nations that must grapple with problems related to development and both are deeply committed to non-alignment.

The most important feature is that we have finally forgotten our political rights over the last decade. However, it is not enough that Indonesia gets its politics right and enjoy some measures of economic dynamism. “ We in Indonesia cannot have a destiny that is different from that of the region in which we live -Southeast Asia and just beyond it, the East Asian region. That is why we regard our work within the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as the lynchpin of our foreign policy.

Not unlike Indonesia itself with its immense diversity of ethnic cultures, the countries that make up the new East Asia are widely varied, but are bound together and made one by a commonality of purpose and values.

In 2003, Indonesia proposed the establishment of an ASEAN community by 2015. The envisioned ASEAN community would rest on three pillars: the ASEAN politico-security community, the ASEAN economic community and the ASEAN socio-cultural community. “We expect to build these three pillars through the ASEAN Charter that came into force in 2008,” he said.



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