Sat, 21 Feb 2004

RI suggests peacekeeping force

Indonesia has proposed that ASEAN establish its own peacekeeping forces by 2012.

Acting director general of the ASEAN cooperation of the foreign ministry Marty Natalegawa said here Friday that the proposal was in line with the action plan in the ASEAN Security Community (ASC) concept.

"The idea came up in our deliberation over programs for the ASC action plan," he was quoted as saying by Antara. Marty made the comment on the sidelines of a meeting between ASEAN high officials at the Hilton hotel.

The ASC document was incorporated in the Bali Concord II during the ASEAN October 2003 summit in Bali.

Key points in the document include tackling issues such as transnational crime, terrorism, conflict resolution and a call for more consultation and cooperation between ASEAN members.

Asked how other ASEAN members responded toward Indonesia's idea, Marty said they had not offered detailed answers as yet, although they had found it a bold and far-fetched idea.

He said that he expected that the members needed time for internal consultation.

The bottom-line, he said, was that the proposal was an alternative for problem solving on a regional level.

"There has been no regional option so far, only national or global. We must create a choice between those two levels," he said.

He added that an ASEAN peacekeeping force would not make the regional grouping into an exclusive club. ASEAN would be as open to the international community as it has always been, and it would always respect the United Nations peacekeeping forces, he said.

"We would take advantage of the UN's expertise in setting up our peacekeeping forces," he added, referring to possible training by the UN Peacekeeping Forces.

The setting up of such forces cannot wait until it is needed, he said.

"We have to anticipate all possibilities and lay down the groundwork and be ready when it is needed," he said referring to conflict resolution measures incorporated in the ASC concept.

He said he hoped the proposed peacekeeping forces would someday have a headquarters in the region. -- JP