News / Asia

Foreign Minister Says Indonesia Will Be a Force in World Affairs

Indonesia enters the new decade filled with confidence and poised to become a more prominent player in international affairs. The foreign minster spoke about the government's foreign policy goals in the years ahead.

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At his annual briefing to journalists Friday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says his country is enjoying enhanced diplomatic status following its successful presidential election last year. And he says with this new status also comes new responsibility.

"Indonesia has transformed itself for the past years, to not only become the third largest democracy in the world," noted Natalegawa. "It is a status of great importance therefore and we are now potentially reaping the benefit of that democratic dividend, but it means therefore our foreign policy will have to better reflect our internal domestic concerns. We have to be on the right side of the debate in terms of various issues and also in terms of process. It has to be more inclusive in terms of foreign policy making. So all in all I think our democracy is one of our key assets."

In the past year Indonesia also faced threats, conflict and crisis. The July bombing of two hotels in Jakarta, which killed nne people, was the first significant terrorist attack in Indonesia in five years.

A separatist movement in Papua remains active. Police blamed rebels for shootings at a U.S.-owned mine in July, and in December a separatist leader was fatally shot while fleeing police.

And two devastating earthquakes killed thousands, testing the government's ability to respond to natural disasters.

Natalegawa says these crises have not overshadowed Indonesia's democratic progress and stable economy. One of the keys to Indonesia's success, he says, has been its ability to find common ground with diverse ethnic and religious viewpoints. Now he plans to apply these lessons internationally on such issues as climate change, economic development, and potential energy and food crises.

"We should be seen as being part of the solution to many of the world's ill," he said. "We are not interested in accentuating differences. That is easy to do and others may want to do that. We want to be playing the role of bridge building, part of the solution, voice of moderation. The best is yet to come in Indonesia's foreign policy."

Indonesia will take on a more vocal individual role in international matters, he says, but it will continue to work through international organizations such as the United Nations and regional groups.

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