RELEASE: SG mission to Indonesia strengthens relations and explores stronger Forum-ASEAN links

Forumsec FIJI, December 12, 2022--The Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna has completed a brief 4-day mission in Indonesia on 6 – 9 December 2022, attending the Indonesia-Pacific Forum for Development and the 15th Bali Democracy Forum.

During his visit the Secretary General met with the Indonesia Minister for Foreign Affairs, HE. Retno Marsudi, the Secretary General of the Association of South-East Asian Nations HE. Dato Lim Jack Hoi, and senior officials from the Indonesian Government.

“I welcome the interest and the political commitment by the Government of Indonesia to strengthen relations between the Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN during its tenure as Chair of the ASEAN in 2023 and I look forward to progressing this proposal with the Forum Membership in the New Year,” said SG Puna.

Indonesia has been a Forum Dialogue Partner since 2001 and since 2019 has increasingly strengthened its people-to-people engagements in the region with a strong focus on business and cultural links. “There is a lot the Pacific can learn from Indonesia – a nation of 17,000 islands, particularly in their strategic sectors of aviation and shipping,” SG Puna said, “Connectivity continues to be an ongoing challenge for Pacific countries and there is potential for strengthened knowledge sharing and collaboration in this area.”

At the Indonesia-Pacific Forum for Development, the Secretary General reflected on the learnings from the pandemic and emphasized the need for strengthened economic resilience built on strong partnerships.

‘With our 2050 Strategy in place, we will continually look to frame our collective partnerships and engagements in support of the Leaders vision as articulated in the 2050 Strategy. It is safe to surmise that long-gone are the days when our partnerships were driven by partner interests in our region.”

On the future of the PIF-Indonesia relationship, the Secretary General welcomed Indonesia’s hopes to establish a dialogue on issues of mutual interest to both parties. The Secretary General particularly welcomed discussions with Minister Marsudi on ongoing human rights issues in West Papua (Papua). The Secretary General reaffirmed that the concern of the Forum was squarely focused on human rights, recognising Indonesia’s sovereignty over the West Papua (Papua) region.

At a regional level, the Secretaries General of the ASEAN and the Forum shared their respective experiences on collective engagement, noting the increasing geostrategic competition in recent years. The Forum Secretary General also took the opportunity to visit the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management in Jakarta to learn about the One ASEAN response to disasters in the region. The visit comes at a valuable time as the Pacific region look to establish a regional Humanitarian and Disaster Relief mechanism in 2023, in line with the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent and the recent meeting of the Pacific Ministers of Disaster Risk Reduction in September 2022. –ENDS

Note: The above text has been updated, on Dec 12 at 9pm.