Speech by H.E. Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia before the Indonesian Council on World Affairs (ICWA)


Bismillah Hirrahmanirrahim.
Assalamu'alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Mr. Chairman,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished guests.

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation from ICWA to give what would be my "first foreign policy speech" as President of Indonesia.

I received that invitation with mixed feelings of relief and anxiety.

Relief, because by inviting me to speak about " Indonesia and the world'", ICWA was practically giving me the hint that I could speak about anything I want.

Which is perfectly alright by me?

And anxious, because the topic of " Indonesia and the world" is so large that while I might know where to begin, I would not know how to end it. I hope the next time ICWA picks a more narrow topic, like the "meaning of life'", they would still consider me as a speaker. 

Having said that, let me start by commending ICWA for the outstanding job they have done for promoting public understanding of Indonesia's foreign policy. I am honored to be invited here to address this distinguished gathering. 

What I will NOT do today is give an overview of Indonesia's foreign policy. There is already a rich body of literature which chronicles Indonesia's diplomatic relations.

And Foreign Minister Hasan Wirayuda has done excellent annual reviews of our foreign policy at the beginning of the year. 

Today, I wish to speak about a foreign policy concept that is of fundamental interest to Indonesians. I am referring to the independent and active foreign policy. I will discuss what I think are the elements of that principle and then relate it to specific foreign policy issues.

Some 57 years ago, in 1948, Vice-President Mohammad Hatta made a speech titled "Mendayung antara dua karang" or "rowing between two reefs". The reefs that Vice President Hatta referred to in his historic speech were the growing antagonism between two opposing Eastern Communist and Western Capitalist Blocs.

Vice-President Hatta argued eloquently that Indonesia must avoid choosing sides between the two blocs. Vice President Hatta was not advocating a policy of neutrality, but he passionately reasoned that Indonesia must strive to be a "subject, not an object” in international affairs where we determine our own path.

This thinking was then coined as "independent and active foreign police", and it became one of Muhammad Hatta's most important legacies.

Over the years, governments have come and go, Indonesia has had six Presidents, and our political system has undergone major chances, but "independent and active" remains the primary foreign policy principle for Indonesia. 

What I find striking, is that in the past 5 decades or so, this basic policy has shown a remarkable degree of resilience and adaptability. 

The questions have to be asked: What are the elements of an independent and active foreign policy? And what does it mean to be independent and active today, 57 years after Muhammad Hatta made his famous speech? 

We need to ask these questions because the world we live in today is radically different than the one faced by our forefathers. 

Our forefathers did not know terms and phenomena such as globalization, interdependence, governance, the internet, cyberworld, CNN, NGOs, sophisticated international terrorist networks--all the things which are part our present day world.

In fact, if Vice President Hatta used the methafore "rowing between two reefs in 1948", today, as we have safely passed the two reefs, I would use the methafore navigating a turbulance ocean to discribe the challange face by Indonesian foreign policy.

My purpose today is to go deeper into the concept of independent and active foreign policy which has served us so well since the beginning of our Republic, and to sketch how it can better serve Indonesia's national interests in the coming years. 

It is not an attempt to rewrite the book, but simply to add more pages to it. 

So what are the conceptual properties of independent and active foreign policy? 

Well, to begin with, as always, it entails "independence of judgment" and "freedom of action". But I would also add the necessity of a constructive approach in the conduct of foreign policy. 

Being independent-minded and having freedom of action is indeed critical. But there is no use having an independent mind and freedom of action if we end-up making the wrong turns or become marginalized. And there is no sense for us to be different just for the sake of being different, or to be active just for its own sake. Our independence and activism must therefore be combined with a constructive mindset so that we can attain our national objectives. 

A constructive approach may mean many things. 

It denotes an ability to turn adversary into friend, and to turn friend into partner. 

It means having the diplomatic, intellectual and emotional capacity to respond to complex foreign policy issues. 

It also means putting to rest a siege mentality, wild conspiracy theories, excessive suspicion, an overly defensive attitude, or the fear that the world is out to get us. 

In short, constructivism helps us to use our independence and activism to be a peace-maker, confidence-builder, problem-solver, bridge-builder. 

This way, our independent and active policy becomes relevant-- relevant to our national interests, relevant to our people, relevant to the international community 

Secondly, independent and active means that we will NOT enter into any military alliances. Indonesia has never engaged in a military pact with a foreign country, and there will be no change in this policy. This also means that we will continue our policy of not allowing any foreign military bases on Indonesian territory. Indonesia does not have a country which we consider a threat or an enemy. 

It is also imperative for Indonesia to develop a strategic posture that is non-­threatening to its neighbors and to the region. Indeed, Indonesia must evolve a strategic posture that strengthens peace and stability, regionally and internationally. 

Third, an independent and active foreign policy is all about connectivity. 

Our ability to connect with the wider world is critical to the performance of our independent and active foreign policy. Our connectivity determines our influence and capacity to shape the international order. 

Connectivity is a source of diplomatic empowerment. 

Remember: in 1955, during a volatile international situation, we connected with Asia and Africa through the Bandung Conference, and sparked a whole new movement which elevated the role of the developing world in international affairs. 

In 1967, when we needed stability for our development, we connected with countries in Southeast Asia to form ASEAN, and changed the face of this region forever. 

Connectivity serves our independent and active policy in many ways, 

It compels Indonesia to have an active and healthy engagement with its neighbors, with the major powers, and emerging powers, with the regions of the world, and with international institutions and a whole range of non-state actors. 

It calls on us to find ways to plug into the globalized world. 

It obliges us to closely tune-in to regional and international issues which affect us. And it necessitates us to link-up with an array of international actors, including business actors, NGOs and individuals. 

It must be remembered, however, that in the very complex world of today, it is impossible to be connected to everything and to be engaged with every international issue. We must develop the right kind and the right degree of connectivity, one that is consistent with our national objectives and with our resources. 

Fourth, "independent and active" should project Indonesia's international identity. 

We Indonesians always talk proudly about our national identity, but do not forget that there is also such a thing as "international identity"--how we project ourselves to the outside world, and how we are perceived by the international community. 

International identity defines a country's role, place and standing in the world community. 

We should be a country that has a solid national identity, but also a strong international identity. 

Our international identity must be rooted in a strong sense of who we are. We cannot be all things to all people. We must know who we are and what we believe in, and project them in our foreign policy. 

The bottom line is this. We are a proud nation who cherish our independence and national unity. We are the fourth most populous nation in the world. We are home to the world's largest muslim population. We are the world's third largest democracy. We are also a country where democracy, Islam and modernity go hand-in-hand. We will stay our course with ASEAN as the cornerstone of our foreign policy. And our heart is always with the developing world, to which we belong. 

These are the things that define who we are and what we do in community of nations. 

We are also proud of our diplomatic heritage. Indonesia convened the historic Asian-African Conference in 1955. We are a founding member of the Non-­Aligned Movement. We are a founding member of ASEAN. We are at the forefront of North-South Dialogue. We were at the forefront of the international law of the sea diplomacy.  We helped the peace settlement in Cambodia and in the Southern Philippines. We are helping to manage potential conflicts in the South China Sea. We helped design the ASEAN Security Community. 'We have always been active in shaping regional order. And recently, we hosted the historic second Asian-African Summit in Jakarta. 

This long history of intense and creative diplomatic activism shapes our international identity.

Fifth, independent and active foreign policy should reflect our true brand of nationalism. Nationalism is of course on the rise in Indonesia, a trend that we also see in marry other countries. But our nationalism is not an angry or arrogant one, We do not subscribe to narrow nationalism, ultra nationalism or self-­absorbed nationalism. We do not overestimate ourselves and nor do we underestimate others. We treat big, medium and small-sized powers with equal respect.

Remember: what makes us Indonesia great and relevant is that we have a brand of nationalism that is open, confident, moderate, tolerant and outward looking. And as our nation grows, we must make sure that we strengthen this brand of nationalism. 

Our ability to maintain this right kind of nationalism is important to our neighbors, to our region, and is a source of our authority and respect on the international arena. 

So this brand of nationalism---the open, moderate, tolerant and outward-looking nationalism-must be at the root of our internationalism. 

So these are the elements of independent and active foreign policy which we have implemented with remarkable consistency throughout the years. It is hardly an exhaustive list, and the able members of ICWA may want to dig deeper into them. 

Let me now move on to the challenges we are facing in implementing our independent and active principle. 

Of these challenges, the challenge of security is often the first that comes to mind. 

In this enlightened age, weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, continue to proliferate. We have to live with the reality or threat of armed conflict not only between states but within states. That is why the trade in small arms and light weapons is so rampant. 

As if these were not enough, we have to confront threats of terrorism and other transnational crimes, massive illegal migration, epidemics and degradation of the environment. 

Then there is the challenge of development, which is basically the problem of poverty. 

Some 1.1 billion human beings, most of them in Asia and Africa, live on just about a dollar a day. Every day some 20,000 of them die because they are too poor to live, Those who survive. are attended by the pangs of hunger and the crippling effects of ignorance and disease. 

Some 40 million Indonesians today are poor. They live on two dollars a day or less. 

Poverty is so widespread in the developing world because of the crushing impact of the debt burden, the inability of poor countries to access export markets, the steady spread of epidemics, the implosion of cities and the degradation of the environment. 

These are threats spawned by the imbalances and inequities of international economic relations. 

Not all the challenges of the world situation today are totally unwelcome. There is the challenge of democracy. 

All over the world, people are seized with a desire to take their destiny in their own hands, to personally choose who will govern them and to take part in the decision-making processes that affect their lives. 

If an established government can graciously accommodate the desire of its people to assert their basic rights, the results can be exceedingly positive for the country itself, for its region and for the world at large. 

This is precisely what happened in Indonesia and several other Asian countries in recent times. Earlier, it happened in South Africa. It is now beginning to happen in the Middle East and elsewhere. 

These challenges clamour for an effective response-for action. 

Indonesia is addressing these challenges in all the appropriate multilateral forums, through bilateral arrangements and through individual national initiatives. 

The foremost multilateral forum through which we address these challenges is, of course, the United Nations. 

We are aware that the UN Secretary-General, in his report, "In Larger Freedom," has presented a carefully formulated package of proposals in the interrelated fields of development, security and human rights as well as for UN reform. 

We agree with the basic thrust of the report--that we cannot have security without development, nor can we have development without security, nor can we have both of them without respect for human rights. 

We share the Secretary-General's view that at the global level we can effectively tackle these basic challenges only through a reformed and revitalized United Nations. 

In this context, we have always urged that the composition and procedures of the Security Council be reformed-to make the Council more democratic and representative of the present world constellation. 

We have always stood for the immediate implementation of the Monterey consensus, and for the completion of the Doha round of trade negotiations in a way that will favor development. 

In the same context, we appeal to our developed partners to relieve the developing world of the debt burden and to allocate 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product for official development aid. 

We look forward to the reform of the UN Human Rights Commission. In the meantime, as Chairman of that Commission, we are striving as much as we can during our tenure to advance all human rights all over the world. 

We will continue to wage an advocacy for non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction and for disarmament. We keenly anticipate the conclusion of a convention on terrorism. 

We are carefully studying the package of proposals presented by the Secretary-General and in September, we will seek and work for collective action in response to these proposals. 

At the inter-regional level, we are actively involved in the development of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership. With our Asian-African partners, we are developing concrete projects to address the basic challenges facing the countries of the two continents. 

One major initiative will be the development of a disaster early warning and response system in the Indian Ocean area. 

This partnership can help in the, quest for peace in the Middle East, and help bring about a state of Palestine living in peace with its neighbors within secure, internationally recognized borders. 

The individual countries in this Partnership may be poor, but our combined economic power can be enormous if wisely consolidated and infused with synergy. 

At the regional and sub-regional level, the mainstay of our foreign relations is our involvement with ASEAN. With the rest of the ASEAN family, we are now building an ASEAN Community that rests on the pillars of a Security Community, an Economic Community and a Socio-cultural Community. 

In building this Community, we in ASEAN are taking full responsibility for our own security. We will also complete, our integration into a single free trade and investment area. 

It is Indonesia's hope that in the process, ASEAN will develop and nurture common values, particularly those that reflect due reverence for human dignity and freedom. The cause of democracy and human rights will thereby be advanced in this part of the world. 

Apart from that, a larger integration process will be launched at the East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur later this year. This Summit will gain significance by virtue of the expected participation 'not only of ASEAN and its Northeast Asian neighbors---China, Japan and South Korea-but also of India, Australia and New Zealand. 

ASEAN, however, should remain in the driver's seat and should continue to be the centre of gravity of the integration process. 

There is as yet no clear-cut architecture of the East Asia grouping that will result from this Summit. But it is possible to anticipate the development of an East Asia community by 2012. 

ASEAN-China, ASEAN-Japan and ASEAN-India free trade areas will be in place by 2010, and today Australia and New Zealand are seeking intensified economic engagement with ASEAN. 

It is just a matter of time before the separate arrangements are welded together to form one immense and powerful economic unit. 

When that community comes into existence, it will comprise about half of the world's population and include the second largest economy and the 'two most dynamic of the great economies in the world today. 

In all these developments, you can expect Indonesia to be playing an active and catalytic role. Our capability to bring nations together so that they can interact with significant results has been proven in the Asian African Summit. 

At the same time, we will remain actively engaged with Europe, Latin America and the rest of the Pacific region. 

Ladies and

A few months ago, we were deep in the gloom of a tragedy in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami that took the lives of more than 175 thousand of our citizens. 

But after each debacle, we bounced back. Today, we are well on our way to full recovery from all the social, political-and economic crises that tested our mettle as a people. 

The mood of our people today is one of guarded optimism. That mood is founded on solid reality. 

We have today an Indonesia that is capable and willing to engage the international community in the common task of building a better world. 

Let me end my speech on that optimism.

Thank you.
Warrahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Jakarta, May 19 2005