Tag Archives: Vanuatu

Breakthrough imminent in Indonesia: O’Neill’s plan to defuse standoff over West Papua

By Rowan Callick === A breakthrough may be on the way for one of the most intractable conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region. Relations between Indonesia and the Melanesian nations, led by Papua New Guinea, have remained awkward ever since the Dutch withdrew from “Netherlands New Guinea,” and the Pacific islands became independent states.

The plight of “West Papua” as it is often called, has prevented Indonesia, the biggest and closest country in South-East Asia, from building the links that might otherwise have been expected, with the island countries to its east—even since it became a liberal democracy 15 years ago.

But, the PNG government, led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, has recently launched an initiative aimed at defusing the stand-off over West Papua, building the economy of the centre of New Guinea island, and gaining diplomatic spin-offs.

The western half of New Guinea island comprises two Indonesian provinces: Papua, whose capital is Jayapura, and West Papua, whose capital is Manokwari. It has a 750-km mostly mountainous and often in the past fraught and dangerous border with PNG.

In 2001, the area now covered by the two provinces was declared autonomous with 80 percent of its tax receipts to be retained for local use. But this process has remained only partially complete compared with the more successful governance situation in Aceh, at the other end of the Indonesian archipelago.

O’Neill, who led a delegation to Jakarta for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said: “West Papua has been a sticky issue for PNG and the western Pacific for quite some time. Our role is to open up discussions.

Genuine desire
“We feel the government of Indonesia has a genuine desire to ensure issues relating to West Papua are managed in a mutually beneficial manner. For the first time in our bilateral discussions, we were able to discuss this openly with the Indonesian government,” said PM O’Neill.

He said he is convinced that Yudhoyono now wishes to withdraw military presence from West Papua, and allow for more autonomy through economic empowerment of the people.

“We feel this is a good opening for us to engage with the Indonesian government so we can participate in the improvement of the lives of Melanesian people there and of our own people along the border. Our officials are now engaged meaningfully in establishing the cooperation we agreed,” he said.

PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato elaborated on the deal that was informally struck: “The Indonesian president will adopt a softer approach to West Papuan issues, allowing them greater autonomy.”

As an indicator of this, official representatives will participate in the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture to be hosted by PNG next year.

He said Indonesia would allow Papua New Guinea communities near the border to draw on its excess hydro power capacity with state-owned enterprise PNG Power buying electricity for its grid from Indonesia, and that the two countries would jointly explore for oil and gas in highly prospective targets that straddle the border.

Indonesia, Pato said, would fund an ambitious paved highway from Merauke on its side of the border in the south, to PNG’s Wewak on the northern coast.

The countries’ leaders signed a total of 11 MOUs during O’Neill’s visit, after which Pato and his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa began to chart an implementation course.

Extradition treaty
They agreed on an extradition treaty—which may ensure that Indonesian businessman fugitive Joko Chandra—wanted for corruption and who obtained PNG citizenship under a process that is being challenged legally—returns to face charges.

Another agreement under final negotiation, will permit planes to fly from Nadi, Fiji, through Honiara in Solomon Islands, then Port Moresby, and on to Bali.

One goal of the warming of relations, Pato said, was to prevent any resurgence of asylum-seekers from the Indonesian side of the border. About 8,000 refugees remain in PNG, living in camps in Western province run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees following earlier conflicts, many of them seeking refuge more than 25 years ago.

The discussions between PNG and Indonesia have led to the latter inviting the foreign ministers of the four Melanesian states — Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, as well as PNG, who form the “Melanesian Spearhead Group” (MSG) — to visit its Papua and West Papua provinces.

O’Neill flew for talks with Yudhoyono instead of attending an MSG leaders’ meeting held at the same time in New Caledonia.

While PNG is helping to usher its fellow Melanesians in towards better relations with Indonesia, Indonesia in return is backing Port Moresby’s membership of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN has 10 members at present — and PNG feels it is entitled to join it because it has such a long land border with the group’s largest state.

Indonesia is also backing PNG’s bid to host the 2018 summit of the APEC forum — which would bring the American and Russian presidents, among other leaders, to Port Moresby — which will be decided at the next summit in Bali in October.

“It’s important for us to have such a relationship with Indonesia,” said Pato — who points out that in previous years, tensions not only unresolved but not even fully discussed about West Papua had prevented the full development of positive, mutually beneficial arrangements between the countries.

Now a joint committee of ministers from the countries has been formed to tackle the details and ensure the MOUs are implemented, he said — starting with the joint economic projects.

Source: Islands Business

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under International Relation, Pacific, Papua

PNG promotes engagement with Indonesia over West Papua

PNG's PM Peter O'Neill

PNG’s PM Peter O’Neill

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has called for engagement with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the way forward for the issue of West Papua.

Attending the Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro this week, the PNG Prime Minister said: “We are generally encouraged by the response that we are getting from the Indonesian government – especially the President – where he has stated to us very clearly that he wanted to engage with us to resolve issues in West Papua, so there is a level of autonomy for the people of West Papua.”

The issue of West Papua was high on the agenda at the June 2013 summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in New Caledonia, where delegations from the Indonesian government and the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) both addressed the summit plenary.

However the topic of West Papua was not on the Forum agenda in Majuro and there was no mention of human rights concerns in the final Forum communique.

At the time of the MSG Summit, Prime Minister O’Neill and PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato were leading a major delegation to Indonesia.

This week, O’Neill stressed the importance of engagement with Indonesia, given their opposition to independence for the western half of the island of New Guinea, which Jakarta administers as the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

“I want to make it very clear again that any resolutions we may have to come to in respect of West Papua will always include Indonesia,” O’Neill said. “It pays for us to stay engaged with Indonesia.”

The major focus of O’Neill’s June visit to Jakarta was trade and investment, but security issues and border relations were discussed.

“We look forward to working closely with them and also developing joint economic areas with the border area,” O’Neill said. “Some of the vast natural resources we have around the border area we can develop together.”

The PNG Prime Minister said that over time there has been improved dialogue on the issue: “I’m encouraged by the events that are taking place, including the Melanesian Spearhead Group ministers are going to have a tour to West Papua. But I’m also happy that the Indonesian government has asked us, the Papua New Guineans, to resolve some of the issues in West Papua.

As yet, details of the proposed MSG Ministerial Mission to Jakarta and Jayapura have not been finalised. In Majuro, Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister Edward Natapei confirmed to Islands Business that no dates have yet been set for the visit.

For the Vanuatu government led by Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil, the MSG’s engagement with Jakarta must be conducted together.

The leader of Vanuatu’s delegation in Majuro, Deputy Prime Minister Natapei told Islands Business: “We believe that the MSG should conduct this ministerial mission together, with all of us intact.”

Last month, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo made a state visit to Indonesia – the first Solomon Islands leader to visit the South East Asian nation.

In a statement after the visit, the Solomon Islands government said: “Prime Minister Lilo’s recent trip not only produced greater technical cooperation, trade commitments and people-to-people relations, but has been hailed by Indonesia for the country’s ongoing active role in multilateral forums such as the Coral Triangle Initiative, the G7 Plus and also APEC.”

Source: Islands Business

Leave a comment

Filed under Separatism, Papua, Pacific, International Relation

Indonesia to campaign on Papua progress in regional forum

The Indonesian government has invited foreign ministers from Melanesian nations grouped under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to Jakarta to receive briefings on development in Papua and West Papua provinces, a move that could be seen as a campaign to obtain international support for the country’s sovereignty over its easternmost region.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said that an invitation for the event had been sent to Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“It is true that I met the Fijian prime minister in Fiji on June 3. The topics we discussed touched mainly on bilateral relations between our two countries. At the meeting, I also extended an invitation to foreign ministers of MSG member states to come to Indonesia,” said Djoko Suyanto on Tuesday (18/06).

The MSG consists of Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, as well as the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), a pro-independence group from French-ruled New Caledonia.

“We invite these foreign ministers to visit Indonesia to observe Indonesia’s development in general, which also includes the government’s policy on the acceleration of development in Papua and West Papua,” Djoko said.

He denied, however, that the invitations were aimed at countering Papuan pro-independence activists’ efforts to win support from the international community.

The senior minister said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had endorsed the plan.

On Monday (17/06), PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who led a delegation of government officials and business leaders on a three-day visit to Jakarta, said that Papua was an integral part of Indonesia.

O’Neill merely added that he was “happy to have been asked by the Indonesian government to help manage issues” in Papua and West Papua.

Source: The Jakarta Post

1 Comment

Filed under Development, Pacific, Papua, Separatism

Melanesian Spearhead Group delays decision on West Papua membership

It has been recommended that a bid by the Free West Papua movement to join regional Pacific body the Melanesian Spearhead Group to been deferred.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) brings together the leaders of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, along with New Caledonia’s indigenous political movement FLNKS.

The Free West Papua movement is pushing for independence from Indonesia and sees membership of the MSG as a step towards international recognition.

PacNews reports foreign ministers gathered in Lifou, the capital of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands, have resolved to defer the decision until they’ve sent a delegation to Jakarta and Jayapura.

Fiji Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola

Fiji Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola

Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola told the meeting Indonesia extended the invitation earlier this month.

He says Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands take the same position when it comes to the Indonesian province of Papua.

“All MSG countries share the same view that we would like to some form of self-determination for West Papua,” he said.

Vanuatu’s foreign minister Edward Natapei says his country strongly backed the bid to have it discussed at this meeting, but was outnumbered.

“We have to comply with the majority,” he said.

The leaders will also consider whether to approve the foreign ministers’ decision to send a delegation to Jakarta and Jayapura.

Source: Australia Network News

2 Comments

Filed under Pacific, Papua, Separatism

Indonesia’s ambassador to Vanuatu describes West Papua as very unlawful

Indonesia’s new ambassador to Vanuatu has described West Papua as very unlawful and that his country is determined to bring calm there.

Nadjip Riphat Kesoema fielded questions about West Papua from Vanuatu journalists at a press conference after he had presented his credentials to Vanuatu’s President, Iolu Johnson Abil on Tuesday (26/2).

Mr Nadjip says he is deeply saddened by the latest violence in Papua, with Eight Indonesian soldiers and four civilians killed in two separate shooting incidents in the Highlands last week.

“Democratisation should be accompanied by rule of law. Right now, many demonstrations has ended with violence because they just try to calm down the demonstration but then the demonstration becoming wild,” said Mr Nadjip.

Source: Radio New Zealand International

2 Comments

Filed under Papua, Security, Separatism

Indonesian Government Achieves Successes in Overseas Diplomacy

Indonesian diplomacy to allay international concerns about its policy of special autonomy for the province of Papua is slowly bearing fruit, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says.

Speaking at the House of Representatives on Wednesday (30/05), Marty said several countries had softened their stance on the policy, including Pacific island nations such as Vanuatu that have traditionally been opposed to Indonesia’s administration of Papua.

“Vanuatu has changed its position and now supports special autonomy in Papua,” he said.

Vanuatu and Sweden are the only two countries with international offices of the Free Papua Organization (OPM), a separatist group. The OPM’s office in Port Vila was set up in 1987 by an activist from the office in Stockholm.

At the time, Vanuatu was also the only country in the region to support the right of East Timor, another area taken over by Indonesia, to self-determination.

But in a statement published by the Vanuatu Daily Post on May 22, the prime minister’s office said its stand on Papua for the past 30 years “has not achieved the intended result.”

“The country has made enormous sacrifices by not being able to establish relations and closer cooperation with Indonesia and being able to source aid and assistance from Indonesia,” it said.

It also said that “Indonesia and West Papua will always be intricately connected in a manner which defies the true meaning of independence.”

Tubagus Hasanuddin, deputy chairman of House Commission I, which oversees foreign affairs, suggested that opposition to Indonesia’s policies in Papua could be tackled by addressing the human rights violations and discrimination of the region’s ethnic Melanesian residents.

“Stop the rights violations and discrimination, because this is what makes Papua” a cause for concern for the international community, he said.

Souece: The Jakarta Globe

Leave a comment

Filed under Democracy, Papua

Papuans ‘should have their identity recognized by govt’

Papuan activists and scholars have called on the government to allow the use of the region’s traditional symbols and stop prosecuting locals who promote them.

Franz-Magnis Suseno, a Catholic priest and philosophy professor at the Driyarkara School of Philosophy, said that the Indonesian government should stop treating the hoisting of the Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag as an act of treason. The flag has long been associated with the Papuan separatist movement.

“Why not let Papuans fly the flag as a symbol of their land? We must also allow them to express their opinions in an assembly,” he said.

Papuan peace activist Neles Tebay said that the close association between the flag and the Papuan separatist movement had often been used as an excuse to abuse the human rights of native Papuans.

Neles also said that the central government should drop its security approach and start a dialogue with the locals.

“All elements in Papua from the local governments, the natives, and the business community, must sit down and start a dialogue. Dialogue is the key to end what has been happening there,” he said.

Farid Hussein, a former mediator in the talks between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) said that the dialogue should also include discussion about the flag.

“One of the most arduous issues [in the Aceh talks] concerned the GAM logo,” he said.

Papuan activist Filep Karma is serving a 15-year prison sentence for promoting separatism. Filep was first detained in 1998 when he led a ceremony to raise the Bintang Kejora flag in Biak.

In the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Universal Periodic Review last week, Germany in particular challenged the government on whether it intended to release Filep and other political detainees who have been held arbitrarily and accused Indonesia of violating Article 20 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which states that “everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association”.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday (30/05) that Indonesia continued to promote and protect human rights in the country, including in Papua, and that some foreign governments had changed their views on the issue.

“Several countries have changed their stance regarding our policies in Papua. The Republic of Vanuatu, for example, has encouraged us to continue implementing the special autonomy program there,” he said.

Source: The Jakarta Post

Leave a comment

Filed under Cultural, Papua, Separatism