World Uncertainties Pose Challenges to Foreign Policy, Indonesia Seeks to Continue Active Role

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Monday (14/05) said an increasing global disorder poses new challenges to foreign policy, and that cooperation between civil society and government will be important in conducting modern day diplomacy.(Photo courtesy of FPCI)

By : Andre Woolgar and Sheany | on 9:20 PM May 18, 2018
Category : News, Foreign Affairs

Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Monday (14/05) said an increasing global disorder poses new challenges to foreign policy, and that cooperation between civil society and government will be important in conducting modern day diplomacy.

Indonesia will continue its active role in international settings, the minister added.

"It’s very challenging, [and it’s becoming] more difficult to manage and navigate foreign policy [as] global disorder is on the rise," Retno said at a Foreign Policy Community Indonesia (FPCI) event in Jakarta.

During the occasion, she highlighted several of these challenges, such as the threat of domestic politics spilling onto the world stage, rivalries among major powers, a lack of mutual trust and tendencies for countries to look inward.

"In short, I must say that the world right now is full of uncertainties."

The minister also touched on Indonesia’s relations with and its role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), recognizing the regional bloc’s role in creating an ecosystem of peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia.

"The story of Southeast Asia will be completely different if there is no Asean. We cannot take for granted that Asean will remain united. The unity and centrality of Asean must be nurtured," Retno said.

In order to preserve its relevance, Asean must balance national and regional interests, and each member must demonstrate leadership, she added.

In recent years, Indonesia has showcased its readiness to be an active and prominent player among the international community, both on the regional and global levels, including through its role in engaging with the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh to address the Rohingya crisis and its vocal support for Palestinian independence.

Indo-Pacific Architecture

As part of its foreign policy priorities this year, Indonesia wants to develop the concept for an Indo-Pacific regional architecture, which Retno said must be based on a habit of dialogue.

However, Indonesia is not the only country to orient its foreign policy toward the Indo-Pacific concept. The United States, Australia and Japan are among the countries that have used the term with growing intensity in the past year, proposing diverse ideas of what the concept should take into account.

"I think one day we will be able to have one concept of Indo-Pacific. It is Indonesia’s hope to discuss the concept during the East Asia Summit in November in Singapore," Retno said.

The East Asia Summit is an annual forum held by leaders of 18 countries, including the United States, India and China.

As Indonesia pushes to contribute more to the world, as illustrated by the country’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, Retno also noted that Indonesian citizens are central to the country's foreign policy.

"Any foreign policy decision must bring benefit to the people. If not, then they will ask: ‘What are you doing? You are only talking and talking. I cannot feel what you are doing.’ So we try to make people feel the impact," Retno said.

Foreign Policy Community

Monday’s event also witnessed the inauguration of FPCI’s Bengkel Diplomasi and the organization’s new research and analysis unit, marking a new step in their effort to engage more actors in the field of foreign policy.

FPCI founder and former Indonesian deputy foreign minister Dino Patti Djalal said the organization will expand its reach to the provinces as part of an effort to attract foreign investment, while also conducting research, including on the topic of diaspora and emerging and middle powers.

FPCI’s activities are organized by its young members, and the group has around 40,000 people in its network.

"The key to FPCI success is not just engaging young people, but really believing in them," Dino said.

During the event, Retno expressed optimism toward FPCI’s initiative.

"In the age of diplomacy zaman now, the government and civil society must work together closely. [FPCI] will help educate the public about international affairs," Retno said.

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