Statement by H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa
Foreign Minister of the Republic of Indonesia
Chair of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
Before the Security Council of the United Nations on
Agenda item: Letter dated 6 February 2011 from the Permanent Representative of Cambodia to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
New York, 14 February 2011
Permit me to begin, by congratulating you on your assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of February; and to express our firm belief that, under your able leadership, the Council would be able to continue effectively discharge its Charter-mandated responsibilities.
The Council has just heard the views of the parties in the case: namely, Cambodia and Thailand.
Both on the root cause of the differences among them, namely the border dispute, as well the circumstances surrounding the most recent border clashes on 4-6 February 2011.
Indeed, on 7-8 February 2011, through my visit to both Phnom Penh and Bangkok, I had the opportunity to hear first hand from the parties concerned on the issues confronting them.
Let me at this juncture, therefore, express deep appreciation to my colleagues, His Excellency Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and His Excellency Mr. Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, for their active engagement with Indonesia, Chairman of ASEAN.
There's little doubt about the complexity of the border issue confronting Thailand and Cambodia.
However, and I wish to emphasize this point, there is absolutely no reason why the issue can not be resolved through peaceful means; through dialogue and negotiations.
As Chair of ASEAN, Indonesia is of the view, Madame President, that there is nothing inevitable about a military solution to the two countries' border issue.
Indeed, without in any way underestimating the challenges before us, as chair of ASEAN, Indonesia detects still a window of opportunity.
From my discussions in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, Indonesia obtained three basic impressions or conclusions.
I have shared these with the two countries concerned and the other ASEAN member states.
None have disassociated itself from these conclusions.
First, Indonesia as chair of ASEAN, believes that ultimately there exists a continued desire and commitment by both sides to settle their differences through peaceful means.
Thus said, this is certainly consistent with the basic undertaking all ASEAN member countries have made as reflected in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) and its Charter. Through these core ASEAN documents, all ASEAN member states, Thailand and Cambodia included, pledged to settle their differences or disputes by peaceful means, and to renounce aggression, and of the threat or use of force.
ASEAN is determined to ensure that this basic commitment is upheld by the two parties concerned.
Support by the Security Council, a call for the parties to resolve the dispute by peaceful means, in accordance with the TAC and the ASEAN Charter, would, Indonesia believes, be constructive.
Second, Indonesia as chair of ASEAN, believes that both sides recognize the need to stabilize the situation on the ground; to ensure that the ceasefire holds.
The recent communications from the two governments to the Security Council, as well as the statements just now made by the distinguished Foreign Ministers, illustrate well the differing interpretations of the circumstances surrounding the recent border incidents.
Each side professes its defensive and peaceful intent; apportioning to the other responsibility for provoking the border incidents.
However, intent must be accurately deciphered. Confidence and trust build on the ground.
The recent military incidents illustrate that, at the very least, there is a communication gap; of perceptions and misperceptions.
Leading to, perhaps, a cycle of unintended violence and conflict.
There is, thus, a need to build a more reliable local and higher level communications system between the two sides, perhaps with third party support, to ensure that the ceasefire holds. To foster confidence in each others' commitment to hold the ceasefire and to remove self-fulfilling worst scenario action and counter reaction. Not least, there is an obvious need for the two sides to make a higher level political commitment to respect the ceasefire.
The Security Council may wish to join in calling on the two sides to respect and to adhere to the ceasefire and to support ASEAN's endeavour in this regard.
Commitment to address the issue by peaceful means and commitment to respect the ceasefire; these are essential if we are to create conditions conducive for diplomatic negotiations to take place.
This is the third impression Indonesia came away with from the visit I undertook last 7-8 February 2011.
We have all been here before.
Debate on the efficacy of bilateral as opposed to regional and indeed, global solutions to a protracted conflict and dispute.
One party in the present dispute has professed preference to a bilateral resolution to the issue.
The other appears to lack faith in the efficacy of such approach.
In truth, bilateral and regional, and indeed, global efforts, do not have to be seen as exclusive to one another, nor are they an "either/or" choices; rather they can be made complementary and mutually reinforcing.
Bilateral negotiation and agreement are prerequisites. In the final analysis, there is no substitute to such an agreement; not least, when it relates to border issues.
However, regional support, or facilitation, are invaluable in helping create conditions conducive for such bilateral talks; to remove distrust, enhance confidence in the process and indeed to assure respect of the outcome.
ASEAN can thus make valuable contribution.
The Security Council may wish to express support for ASEAN's efforts, to facilitate and actively encourage, the two sides to step up efforts to resolve their disputes by peaceful means.
In anticipation of the outcome of the present Security Council meeting, as Chair of ASEAN, Indonesia has called for a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN member states in Jakarta on 22 February 2011.
Indonesia is very much encouraged that both Cambodia and Thailand readily and at once agreed to the convening of the meeting.
Based on the communications I have had, Indonesia foresees three basic and mutually reinforcing objectives:
First, an ASEAN call and, indeed, strong encouragement, to the parties concerned to continue to commit to the peaceful settlement of disputes and renunciation of the use and threat of the use of force, as provided for in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and its Charter;
Second, an ASEAN support to the efforts by the two parties to ensure respect of the ceasefire. Enhanced communications modalities may need to be contemplated and introduced; and
Third, an ASEAN effort to ensure conducive climate for the resumption of negotiations between the two sides. ASEAN may facilitate such talks and be informed by the parties concerned on the general outline of its progress.
The Council may wish to express support for the aforementioned ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting.
Southeast Asia is a region much transformed. Our region is only too painfully aware of the costs of conflict. It is, at the same, cognizant of the dividends accruing from conditions of amity and cooperation. Common security means common prosperity and common progress.
We are not about to let these gains lapse.
ASEAN has been at the forefront in catapulting the region to an ASEAN Community by 2015. In all its three pillars, namely economic, socio-cultural and political-security. In such Community, resort to use of force to settle disputes cannot be the norm. It is an exceptional and unique aberration; as we believe the current situation between Cambodia and Thailand.
Indeed, despite this most recent challenge between such two principal members within ASEAN, cooperation within ASEAN, between ASEAN and it's immediate regions, through the "plus one" and "plus three" processes, as well as the East Asia Summit, have continued unabated. ASEAN is occupying the driving seat role in the wider region's architecture building.
Beyond, in accordance with ASEAN's theme for 2011: "ASEAN community in a global community of nations", ASEAN is identifying a roadmap for a more enhanced contribution on global affairs: an ASEAN common platform on global issues of common concern.
ASEAN as a net contributor to the solution of many of the world's problems.
In short, Madame President, ASEAN has every incentive to ensure that the present difficulties afflicting two of its members be resolved amicably.
Guns and artillery must remain silent in Southeast Asia.
Thus, we ask for synergy of efforts by the Security Council to support ASEAN's endeavours and ultimately, to support and provide every positive incentive for the two parties concerned, Cambodia and Thailand, to resolve their differences amicably, as befitting members of the ASEAN family of nations; and indeed, members of the global community of nations.
Thank you very much, Madame President.