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Chairmanship at the ASEAN Summit Becomes Evidence of Indonesian Leadership Recognized by the World

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Indonesia has again won the trust to serve as Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2023. This is the fourth time that Indonesia has held the same position after previously in 1976 followed by 2003 and finally in 2011 or about 12 years ago.

As chair of ASEAN, Indonesia has a strategic role in encouraging the resolution of various issues both related to the internal region and those related to other countries outside Southeast Asia.

         Internally, for example, one of the problems that has not yet been resolved is the Myanmar crisis. The five consensus agreements agreed upon by ASEAN countries have not yet worked. Myanmar did not open up to the ASEAN envoys and continued to commit various violations.

         At the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Jakarta as part of Indonesia’s chairmanship in early February 2023, countries in the region agreed that in responding to the Myanmar crisis, they still refer to five points of consensus.

         According to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno P Marsudi, ASEAN’s attitude in responding to the Myanmar crisis will not change and will always refer to the Five Points Consensus.

         Retno said this was very important for ASEAN, especially the chairperson, as a guide in responding to the situation in Myanmar. This shows the unity of ASEAN members to implement 5PC.

         A Five-Point Consensus was agreed upon at the ASEAN Leaders Meeting which was held at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on 24 April 2021. The first five points agreed upon immediately put an end to violence in Myanmar and all parties must exercise restraint in conflict. 

         Second, constructive dialogue between all parties. Third, the appointment of the ASEAN special envoy for the mediation process. The four distributions of humanitarian aid by ASEAN for Myanmar are through the AHA Center. Finally, the visit of the ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar to meet with all parties.

         Unfortunately the implementation of the consensus stalled. Instead of running, the Myanmar military authorities in October 2022 reminded ASEAN not to intervene too deeply, including in determining the time frame for peace. The Myanmar military that overthrew Suu Kyi also does not want to be bound by the results of the current ASEAN countries.

         Apart from the Myanmar issue, another issue that is no less important is resolving disputes in the South China Sea between China and a number of ASEAN countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

         In the meeting of the foreign ministers of ASEAN countries in Jakarta some time ago, the issue of Myanmar was also discussed. ASEAN encourages a commitment to finalizing the negotiations on the South China Code of Conduct (CoC). 

         It’s no secret, of course, that China claims the South China Sea where this refers to the nine-dash line concept. This conception has been rejected by the international community because it has no foundation.

         Disputes often occur and trigger friction in the field. The Philippines even brought this case to the Arbitration Court in 2016 and Manila won. The court said that there is no historical evidence that China controls and controls the resources exclusively in the region. Unfortunately, this decision was ignored by Beijing.

         Apart from discussing these two issues, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs from ASEAN countries also agreed to jointly support ASEAN’s capacity building, effectiveness and readiness in facing present and future challenges as well as the development of the ASEAN Blue Economy Framework .

         Participated in the discussion at the Minister of Foreign Affairs meeting regarding the identification of concrete projects with ASEAN partners and strengthening ASEAN partnerships with Pacific countries and developing the ASEAN  Maritime Outlook. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers also agreed to make the Southeast Asian region a center of growth. This is in line with the theme of this year’s Indonesian Chairmanship. “ASEAN  Matters: Epicentrum of Growth ”.

         Indonesia’s leadership in this international event shows that Indonesia’s expertise in negotiating in international forums has been recognized worldwide. Not only in the ASEAN region, even at the G20 world influential countries meeting, Indonesia is well known in conducting mediation.

         During its chairmanship in 1976, Indonesia initiated the birth of the Bali Concord I regarding  the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation  , namely the desire to make the Southeast Asian region a place for everyone to behave well and promote cooperation. This was the case in 2003 through the Bali Concord II which wanted to build ASEAN as an economic, political and security, social and cultural pillar.

         In the Maritime Sector, ASEAN succeeded in agreeing to strengthen cooperation through the ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) to deal with transnational crimes comprehensively, including making ASEAN a nuclear weapon-free region.

         Indonesia is determined to direct ASEAN cooperation in 2023 to continue and strengthen ASEAN’s relevance in responding to regional and global challenges and strengthen ASEAN’s position as the center of regional economic growth for the prosperity of the ASEAN people. This is proof that Indonesia’s leadership has been recognized internationally.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Fiscal Policy Agency, Febrio Kacaribu, stated that ASEAN’s economic condition is currently stable. He also emphasized that a number of international organizations such as the IMF, World Bank and OECD see the ASEAN region as  the epicenter of growth,  even though the world will still face various challenges in 2023. An example of implementation in the Recovery Rebuilding pillar is through exploring the implementation of the policy mix.  in ASEAN countries.

          This is attempted by adjusting the characteristics of each country bearing in mind that ASEAN countries have relatively similar economic problems after the Covid-19 pandemic which hit Southeast Asia evenly.

)* The author is a Contributor to the Media Inti Nesia Institute

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