Opening Statement at The Third Jakarta International Defence Dialogue


Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh, 
May peace be upon us all,

Your Excellency Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao,
Excellencies Ministers, Ambassadors, and Members of Parliament,
Distinguished Participants, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First and foremost, on behalf of the Government and people of Indonesia, I am pleased to extend my warmest welcome to all of you. Many of you have traveled far to join our discussions today and tomorrow. We look forward to what we hope will be a rich sharing of ideas on how to improve the state of international peace and security. 

What a great gathering we have here : arround 1300 participants from 38 countries are present here today. This is exactly what we intended the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue to be—a positive meeting place of the minds for international defense officials, security specialists and military leaders. 

I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the organizing committee from the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the International Peace Institute. I also thank all the speakers and participants who are taking part in this Forum. I am confident that your discussions will help promote a better understanding of the dynamics of our complex security environment, and hopefully lead to constructive policy ideas for our common good.

The theme of our Dialogue this year, “Defense and Diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific Region”, is highly relevant to all of us. 

For we live in a geopolitically – and geoeconomically - fluid region. While the headlines of the day may give cause for alarm, the overall direction of our region, I believe, is generally positive. The relations among major powers are stable and cooperative. The region’s security architecture – with ASEAN, EAS, ARF, and others is strengthening. Bilateral partnerships are proliferating throughout the region. And our region is experiencing phenomenal economic growth and social progress, which hopefully would continue in the coming years. 

There are those who say that the most pressing challenges in our region are to deal with territorial and jurisdictional disputes—they are at the core of flashpoints. I agree. But those are long-term challenges. Most of these territorial and jurisdictional disputes will take time to resolve. For example, the effort by Indonesia and Vietnam to negotiate part of our continental shelf boundaries took 30 years to finalize.

I would like to propose to this Forum today, that our main challenge in promoting international security is how to build strategic trust among countries in our region. 

"Strategic trust" is a term that evades precise definition, but in my view, it refers to an evolving sense of mutual confidence between nations - particularly between governments and militaries. When two or more parties begin to have faith regarding the goodwill and intentions of the other, then strategic trust is set in place. This will enable them to cooperate more, to invest in one another, to trust their instincts, and to exert more efforts for peace. 

And like any form of bonding between human beings and institutions, strategic trust is something that must be earned, and built brick-by-brick. 

My good friend Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and I know this very well. Indonesia and Timor Leste had a very difficult, painful history between us. Many lives were lost – and also properties - emotions were high, and national pride was hurt. Many predicted that the trauma was so severe that relations between Jakarta and Dili were permanently damaged.

But we proved them wrong. With goodwill and courage, both Indonesia and Timor Leste worked closely to create a new relationship. The TNI and the Timor Leste military worked together to manage border security. We have developed a creative arrangement for citizens of Timor Leste to travel with ease to their enclave in Oecussi, which is located within Indonesian territory. We have resolved more than 90% of our land border demarcation—usually a difficult issue in relations between neighbors. And perhaps most importantly, we found a way to address sensitive past human rights issues by forming a joint Commission for Truth and Friendship. 

As a result of these and many other initiatives, some 13 years after the UN-held popular consultation, relations between Indonesia and Timor Leste now rank among the best among neighbors in this region. The trust between Prime Minister Xanana and I are strong - very strong.

We in Indonesia also practiced this internally with regard to the Aceh conflict, which lasted over 3 decades, and cost thousands of lives. A number of peace initiatives were launched but failed. Then in 2005, following a deadly tsunami, we decided to change the game. We let go of our exclusively military solution, and made a new approach for a win-win peaceful political solution, based on special autonomy. 

At first, this new approach was met with strong suspicion by GAM political and military leaders. But we persisted, and slowly we gained momentum: GAM leaders began to understand that we were serious and sincere. In about 5 months of negotiations, we reached a historic peace deal, and by doing so we transformed former enemies and combatants into partners for peace and development. Today, GAM combatants have long left the hills, given up their weapons, rejoined society, and become part of a permanent peace and vibrant democracy in Aceh. The enmity and hostility of yesteryear has been replaced by a prevalence of trust. 

In both the cases of Indonesia-Timor Leste relations as well as in Aceh peace, trust becomes a precious commodity that, once achieved, should never be taken for granted. There are too many examples around the world where hard-won confidence turns sour overnight due to an incident, miscommunication, false expectation, leadership change, and other factors. Trust, therefore, is a never ending work.


Indeed, strategic trust is what we need to consistently evolve, spread and strengthen across the region. It is a key challenge in the evolving US-China relations. It is an important question in India-Pakistan relations. It is a major factor in the present state of relations between China and Japan. It is certainly an enormous issue in the relations between the North and South, in the Korean Peninsula.

And in all these cases, it should be remembered that strategic trust is two-way street. It has to be earned, and built brick-by-brick, often involving stop-go process. And it is not enough to have trust only at the high-levels of leadership. As much as possible, trust must be allowed to filter through different levels of government, to senior, mid-ranking and lower level officials. Remember: sometimes actions and decisions taken by lower level officials on the ground can make greater waves, compared to decisions made at the top. Trust and confidence, therefore, has to be widely spread.

This is what has happened in Southeast Asia over the course of the last 5 decades. Southeast Asia, as we all know, was nowhere what it is today in terms of regional cooperation. Decades ago, this region was sharply divided, embroiled in war and insurgencies, burdened by conflicts and poverty. ASEAN had only 5 members when it was established in 1967. There were lots of mistrust and deep-seated hostility to go around among the 10 countries in Southeast Asia. Indeed, back in the 1970’s, perceptual gaps were so deep that it was unthinkable that Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos would want to join ASEAN. 

What is happening in Southeast Asia today therefore has been a remarkable mental leap in how regional countries relate to one another. Southeast Asia, through the expansion of ASEAN, has evolved a new strategic culture, one that is reflected in new concepts such as “ASEAN Community”, “ASEAN family”, “ASEAN Way”, “ASEAN Centrality”, “ASEAN Connectivity”, and so on. These terms reveal that a totally new and different regional mindset has taken root in Southeast Asia in ways that signifies a radical break from the division and hostility of the past. 

Yes, Southeast Asia still has plenty of potential problems and disputes on its own–including territorial and jurisdictional. But the countries in our region have developed a high degree of political will and pragmatism to manage them, and to seriously push for cooperation and community-building. 

Indeed, although ASEAN is not an alliance, and will never evolve into one, it is particularly important that our militaries have an “ASEAN mind-set”. They know they belong to this region, they know they belong to an evolving ASEAN family, and they have a stake in attaining the ASEAN Community. Today, there is an annual meeting of ASEAN Ministers of Defense (ADMM). There are also annual meetings of ASEAN armed forces chiefs and ASEAN intelligence chiefs. Each day, in building our community, we are putting a brick in place, in the form of sharing information, exchanges of officers, joint exercises, even a simple courtesy farewell call when an armed forces chief is about to retire.

I realize that evolving strategic trust is not so easy, and can be extremely difficult. Sometimes the gap between the parties in conflict is so wide that making an inch of progress is painfully difficult, as in the Korean peninsula. Sometimes, as we see in Northeast Asia, historical differences run so deep that it will require more work – and time – to sort things out.

But I do believe that the evolving environment in the Asia-Pacific offers much more strategic opportunities today, compared to past decades. Since the Cold War ended, there has been a significant re-alignment of interests among countries in this region. More and more, our interests are converging, from combating terrorism to mitigating the impact of natural disasters, from dealing with trans-national crime to diseases, from financial crisis to climate change. 

For our part in Indonesia, the changing regional and international landscape has enabled us to see and seize strategic opportunities. While continuing to embrace our constitutionally mandated “independent and active” foreign policy, we have in recent years pursued what we call “all directions foreign policy”.

We also found that we now live in a strategic luxury in a world where we consider no state to be our enemy. This gives us an opportunity to pursue a diplomatic approach known as “a million friends and zero enemy”. 

Thus, in keeping with this, in recent years, Indonesia has developed more than a dozen strategic and comprehensive partnerships, including with ALL the major powers–the US, China, Russia, Japan; and also with emerging powers around the world: India, Brazil, South Korea, South Africa, and Australia. And we also found opportunity, in 2008, to establish the Bali Democracy Forum–the only inter-governmental forum on democracy in the region. We have expanded this Forum to include 80 participating countries as of last year. 

Strategic opportunities sometimes can conveniently come knocking on our door, but when they don''''''''t, opportunities can still be created. And I have found that generally, each new opportunity opens up another set of opportunities.

As we look around the region, we see plenty of space to create new strategic opportunities. 

In US-China relations, for example, we are pleased to see “positive, cooperative relations” evolving between the two countries, which have entered into Strategic and Economic Dialogue since 2009. It is time that the US and China elevate their relations, such as engaging in joint military exercises. This would send a very positive signal that strategic trust is fast evolving between Beijing and Washington DC. 

Another opportunity pertains to the recent democratic developments in Myanmar. Indonesia has always been a keen supporter of Myanmar’s 7 - Step Roadmap to Democracy, and we see so much in Myanmar’s present democratic transition that resemble the Indonesian experience. We expect that the unfolding events in Myanmar will lead to more strategic opportunities in the form of enhanced security and peace dividends for Myanmar, both externally and internally. Our ASEAN Community would certainly benefit from a strong, prosperous and democratic Myanmar.

There is also a strategic opportunity In the South China Sea, where ASEAN and China are in process of formulating a Regional Code of Conduct, in order to implement the Guidelines for the DOC adopted in July 2011. We hope that the Code of Conduct will be finalized sooner rather than later. It would go a long way to strengthen confidence-building, which could turn potential conflicts into potential cooperation in the South China Sea.

Yet another opportunity is presented by the fact that almost every single country in this region is affected by natural disasters. This is a challenge that brings all of us together rather than pit us against one another. The seeds for this cooperation was planted during the tsunami of 2004, which brought together the world’s many armed forces together to Aceh and Nias in what was essentially the largest Military Operations Other than War (MOOTW) since World War II. Our people welcomed the foreign militaries and other volunteers who came not to fight but to save lives. 

All in all, for us in Southeast Asia, this is a momentous time. Southeast Asia is experiencing intensified geostrategic exposure from all directions. India is pursuing “Look East” policy. The US is rebalancing towards the Asia-Pacific, with greater attention to Southeast Asia. China has phenomenally upped its diplomatic and economic engagement with this region. Japan is paying even greater focus to Southeast Asia, and so is South Korea. Australia is looking north to reap the benefits of what they call as the “Asian Century”. And Russia is certainly leaning itself more towards Asia. 

All these mean that the strategic designs of many countries are pointing to Southeast Asia. The countries in this region must respond to it well. We must fulfill our historic aim to form an ASEAN Community by 2015, and remain as masters of our own affairs in the region. And we must not falter in promoting a durable regional architecture based on ASEAN centrality. For the first time, Southeast Asia can be a linchpin for peace, progress and cooperation for the wider region.

This is why we attach great importance to a document that was adopted in Bali in 2011. It is called “the East Asia Summit Declaration of Principles for Mutually Beneficial Relations”. This document, is not legally binding but it is morally binding to all the parties. The Declaration commits 18 EAS countries large, medium and small to a number of important principles. Let me cite SOME of these principles.

• “Mutual respect for independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity”. 
• “Respect for International law”. 
• “Renunciation of the threat of use of force or use of force against another state, consistent with the UN Charter”. 
• “Recognition and respect for the diversity of ethnic, religious, cultural traditions and values, as well as diversity of views and positions, including by promoting the voices of moderation”. 
• “Enhancement of regional resilience, including in the face of economic shocks and natural disasters”. 
• “Respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice”. 
• “Settlement of differences and disputes by peaceful means; enhancement of mutual understanding, mutual trust and friendship. And there are a few others.

I am convinced that if some or all of these principles were faithfully observed by the countries in our region, we will attain a condition of regional peace and progress that is unparalleled in our history.

I also have no doubt that observance of these EAS Principles would help us to achieve a condition of “dynamic equilibrium” in Asia-Pacific. As we can already sense, in the coming decades, we will be seeing rapid shifts and adjustments in power relations across the region. I strongly believe that the Asia-Pacific in the 21st Century is big enough for established powers and emerging powers alike. Whatever happens, it is important that the new geopolitical environment does not lead to new tensions, and can actually produce a new strategic culture embraced by all, marked by win-win cooperation and common security. 

In this way, we will all win the peace together. Peace for our time. Peace for future generations.

Finally, with that in mind, and by reciting bismillahirrahmanirrahim, I declare the Third Jakarta International Defense Dialogue 2013 open. 

I thank you.
Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.