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Indonesia pursues free and active foreign policy based on its national values

Islamabad, 23 August, 2023 (GNP): The part one of the 10th Session of the OIP on the Contemporary Dynamic of Indonesia was held on August 22, 2023. The OIP which is a collaboration between Indonesian Embassy and Bahria University, Islamabad hosted Prof. Anak Agung Banyu Perwita, Professor of International Relations, Department of International Relations, National Defense University, who shared his insight on the evolution of the “Indonesian Foreign Policy”.

While sharing historical background of Indonesia’s foreign policy defined as “Bebas-Aktif” or “Independent-Active” the speaker said that these two key and basic principles are the hallmark of the Country’s foreign policy since 1948.

He said that the Indonesian Vice President Mohammad Hatta termed the Foreign Policy as “Rowing between Two Reefs” since the country envisioned a policy of not aligning itself with world’s major powers and maintaining a balance between them.

Prof. Anak stated that Indonesia’s foreign policy focuses on promoting economic development, regional integration, conflict resolution, and multilateral engagement, prioritizing national integrity, economic stability, pluralism, democracy, and global peace efforts.

“Indonesia’s foreign policy is derived from its unique cultural values, historical experiences, aspirations of the society and its strategic position in world politics” the speaker informed the participants.

He further informed that historically, these principles and values are essential part of the preamble of 1945 constitution adding that Indonesia committed itself to abolish colonialism and create a world order based on Independence peace and social justice.

With these basic principles, Indonesia’s foreign policy, a blend of diplomacy and struggle, successfully maintained and defended its freedom against the Dutch and gained international recognition. It chose not to align with the US and USSR, acting as an active agent to decide its own standpoint. The policy also aimed to mitigate ideological rivalry among elites and evolve a consensus for secular nationalism over religious-nationalism.

In this context of cold war between US and USSR, the Asia-Africa Conference, hosted by Indonesia in 1955, and organized by Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Pakistan was the first large-scale Asian–African Conference of newly independent twenty-nine countries that represented a total population of 1.5 billion people, 54% of the world’s population. The meeting of these leaders was a key point in the history of developing countries that gave rise to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the concept of the Third World or the South.

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Moving on to the New Order Era of 1967-1998 the speaker said that under the President Soeharto, the New Order’s first foreign policy initiative was to radically change Indonesia’s foreign policy and commit to a good neighborhood policy, leading to the establishment of ASEAN in 1967 to promote domestic political stability and economic development by removing conflict sources” he apprised the participants.

He described the next priority of President Suharto foreign policy was to restore Indonesia’s relations with US and Japan by implementation of “diplomacy for development” to attract foreign investment in managing the domestic economy through the creation of IGGI in 1967.

The speakers underlined that since then ASEAN has been the cornerstone of Indonesia’s Foreign Policy which has contributed to its international and regional standing, has helped attracted investment and has opened up markets for exports. He shared with the participants that ASEAN has fostered regional harmony through the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in SEA contributing to a more autonomous regional order, providing international leverage and promoting security cooperation.

Prof. Anak Perwita described that during the COVID-19 pandemic, President Jokowi emphasized the importance of bilateralism, regionalism, and multilateralism as the pandemic had multi-dimensional implications.

In Q8A session the speaker said that Indonesia is concerned about the rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and aims to play a bridging role between major world powers.

Indonesia underscores the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) that emphasizes ASEAN’s role in maintaining peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region”, he concluded.

At the upcoming session 11, Dr. Yayan G.H. Mulyana, Deputy of Foreign Minister / Head of Foreign Policy Agency Strategy Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia will deliver lecture on topic of “The Rise of Indonesia as a Middle Power” on August 24, 2023