Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms


11 August 2008

Joint media conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Wirajuda

Wirajuda: [Translated from Indonesian] Ladies and gentlemen. This morning I have the honour to welcome Australian Foreign Minister and my friend His Excellency Stephen Smith.

In a relatively short time, over the last seven months, we met for the first time in early February in Perth to exchange documents of ratification of the Lombok Treaty or what we often call the Lombok and Perth agreement because it was signed in Lombok and started to take effect officially with the exchange of notes in Perth. As we know, the accord strengthens the foundation of the Indonesia–Australia bilateral ties.

My second meeting with Minister Stephen Smith took place in Singapore on the sidelines of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and other related meetings, including the ASEAN Regional Forum. And today I warmly welcome Foreign Minister Stephen Smith who fulfilled his promise to visit Indonesia.

The visit is part of continuous efforts to enhance the Indonesia-Australia ties. We know that the exchange of visits also took place at the level of the head of state over the past eight months - the Australian Prime Minister has twice visited (Indonesia), the first one in December was to attend the International Conference on Climate Change and the second visit was to Jakarta in June.

Our relations are based on increasingly stronger foundations; firstly, the declaration of the Comprehensive Partnership that was signed by President Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Howard when President Yudhoyono visited Australia in Canberra in April 2005. Then, of course, the signing of commencement of the taking into effect of the Lombok Treaty since early this year and we should not forget as a nation that our close ties have actually started with the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia.

In the run up to the 63rd anniversary of the Indonesian independence, I think it is natural if I remind that Australia’s support for recognition of the Indonesian independence that was proclaimed 63 years ago took place in the Security Council negotiations on the Indonesian issue from 1946 to 1950. Australia has played enormous roles in encouraging the international community to recognise proclaimed independence. We also know that in history the Australian labour union boycotted the Dutch ships. They supported the Indonesian independence by boycotting the Dutch ships.

For the present generation, we have interests, based on close and past ties, to keep enhancing mutually-beneficial ties. In this context, we appreciate the Australian Government’s response to provide assistance when we have faced disasters, such as earthquakes and the tsunami in Aceh. Australia came first to gave assistance. It also gave assistance when earthquakes struck Yogyakarta and Central Java. For the nation, it is highly appropriate to express our gratitude and appreciation.

As well, there is the productive cooperation in the economic and development sectors, especially the huge Australian assistance for development cooperation. I would like to mention that tomorrow Foreign Minister Smith and I will travel to Makassar to open the 1000th of 2000 schools having been built and being continuously built by Australia, both public as well as Islamic schools, as well as the assistance in the form of road construction by the Australian Government. That is one example of our productive cooperation. And I say to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith that we are building monuments of friendship for future generations.

In the just concluded bilateral meeting, we discussed other issues of interests to Australia, bilateral, regional as well as international issues. On bilateral issues, for example, Foreign Minister Smith raised the issue of the death penalty that was imposed in our legal process on three of the so called Bali Nine. But there is also a case related to an Australian citizen, who is facing a legal case in Canberra and suffering from an incurable disease who, under humanitarian considerations, is likely to be sent back to Australia.

We also discussed the issue of 43 Papuans who sought asylum in Australia and in the preliminary process some of them are studying the possibility of “being repatriated” to Papua. I elaborated this is part of the latest trend that a lot of Papuans overseas are returning home, including about 700 people we are processing to be returned back from PNG to Papua. This reflects the improved situation in Papua, from the security as well as economic development aspects.

We welcome a planned visit by the special envoy of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Woolcott, a senior Australian diplomat and a friend of Indonesia, about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s concept or idea about the establishment of the Asia Pacific Community in 2020. We are ready to hold dialogue, to listen to further ideas about the proposal. I am also ready to discuss with Australia about the idea of setting up an Asia Pacific Commission on nuclear non-proliferation.

As I said, one of the ten points of cooperation under the Lombok Treaty is Australia-Indonesia bilateral cooperation on non-proliferation therefore it is very logical that Indonesia and Australia also forge close cooperation on the concept of the establishment of the regional commission on nuclear non-proliferation.

When I was in Singapore and met with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith for bilateral talks, the South West Pacific Dialogue and the ASEAN Regional Forum, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith also expressed the Australian government’s support for the Truth and Friendship Commission (CTF) report and offered assistance to the Indonesian and Timor Leste Governments in the framework of the implementation of the CTF recommendations.

I wish to emphasise that in the near future, at the senior official level, Indonesia and Timor Leste will sit together to draft a plan of action to follow up the CTF recommendations.

Overall, our ties with Australia are increasingly developing positively based on strong foundations, therefore any problems we face openly, frankly and directly discuss them with the hope that we can overcome them well.

That is all I wish to say…Now I ask my colleague Foreign Minister Smith to tend his remarks.

Smith: Thank you very much Minister. Firstly can I say how pleased I am to be in Indonesia, in Jakarta as you point out this is the fourth meeting we’ve had. We had our first meeting in Bali in the margins of the Climate Change Conference. Our meeting in Perth, where very importantly we signed the Lombok Treaty known now by you and me as the Lombok Perth Treaty which really lays the framework and sets the foundation for the modern Australia-Indonesia relationship and very successful meetings in the margins of the ASEAN-related meetings and now here. And can I say thank you for your warm welcome.

There are two important reasons why it is nice to be here to day – one is I was pleased to see on the front page of the local paper Mr Eko winning a bronze medal for weight lifting so, I congratulate Mr Eko and Indonesia for that success.

And secondly and more seriously, this is also a week leading up to the preparations for the 63rd Independence celebrations and we met formally in a room very important to Indonesia’s constitutional and independence developments and so thank you very much for your kind and generous remarks about Australia’s support for Indonesia’s independence. From Australia’s perspective, that is part of Australia’s proud history and from the first moment not only did we support Indonesia’s independence, we understood all too well, the critical importance of the relationship between Indonesia and Australia.

Minister, like you can I say that I regard our relationship as being at a very high level. But I think that with the underlying framework of the Lombok Perth Treaty we can take that partnership, that relationship to an even higher level. It’s no surprise to me that my visit is the 15th Australian Ministerial visit to Indonesia since the government came to office, including two very successful Prime Ministerial visits by Prime Minister Rudd. And today we’ve discussed some very important forward looking proposals or projects for the Australia- Indonesia relationship.

Our development assistance partnership with Indonesia, the Australia-Indonesia Partnership is a $2.5 billion program over five years. A very significant component of this is education and a very significant component is infrastructure, a $300 million program for infrastructure, roads throughout Indonesia - 10 provinces, 25 projects.

What we do in education is very important and of great significance. Minister, when I invited you to Perth, I invited you to attend the modern successor of my old school where you spoke for half an hour with young Australians who were speaking and learning Indonesian and I did that because when I first became Minister, I became aware of our partnership to build or repair or expand two thousand junior high schools in Indonesia and this is a great project between Australia and Indonesia and I’m very pleased that tomorrow we’ll go to South Sulawesi and open a school to mark the 1000th school of a program of building, repairing or expanding 2000 school throughout Indonesia.

In addition to that Australia-Indonesia development assistance partnership, we work together in a range of other related areas. The Minister and I spoke in the course of our meeting of the Bali Forum process, we’ve agreed we will have a further ministerial meeting of the Bali Forum process in people smuggling and people movement areas. We spoke about Australia hosting the regional interfaith dialogue in Australia next year. We planned for the Australia–Indonesia Ministerial Forum meeting in Australia before the end of this year. We spoke about Australia’s support of Indonesia’s Bali Democracy Forum and also in the first quarter of next year in Australia we’ll have a major conference on the Australia-Indonesia bilateral relationship and I’ve invited the Minister to play a key role in that. So there are a range of significant attributes that we have to our relationship.

The Minister mentioned some of the bilateral issues that we raised in the course of discussion. And I raised with the Minister as I had done previously in Bali and I think in Perth the three remaining members of the Bali 9 subject to a capital punishment penalty and I indicated again to the Minister that when the legal and appeal and judicial processes have been exhausted, if any of the three remain subject to a death penalty, Australia will make a plea of clemency on their behalf.

The Minister informed me of a request by a small number of Papuans who had been granted protection visas in Australia of their desire to explore the possibility of returning to Papua. This of course is a matter for the Papuans concerned and a matter between them and Indonesia but I was grateful for the Minister to advise me of the very early state of those discussions between the Papuans and the Indonesian authorities.

I make this general point because it’s a very good example. There was a time in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia where such a discussion would have potentially caused great difficulties or great difficulty to the relationship. That is no longer the case today. I often credited this saying to the President of Indonesia but my Ambassador Mr Farmer reminded me this morning that it was actually His Excellency the Minister who made this comment that Indonesia has a perfect relationship with Iceland so far away, so far apart that there is never an issue where there might be a difficulty or a disagreement. Because Australia and Indonesia are partners and friends like a family, like a community, like neighbours there may from time to time be issues where you have difficulty or a small disagreement. In the past where we had these disagreements, potentially they went to or shook the foundations of our relationship. That is no longer the case today. We deal with these things in a business-like manner, we take them in our stride, we manage them as just further aspects of living close together, being friends and partners and neighbours. Very much of this I think is a consequence of the importance of the Lombok Perth Treaty which in the case of Papua, for example, and generally respects Indonesia’s territorial sovereignty over Indonesia and it’s very important I think to appreciate that the Lombok Perth Treaty provides for both our great nations the underlying framework and foundation of the modern-day relationship.

Our bilateral relationship is at a very good and high-level, we think we can take it even further – we think there is much more that in partnership Australia and Indonesia can do, not just in a bilateral sense but also regionally, which is why I was pleased in Singapore we worked very closely together in both the South West Pacific Dialogue, the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. So, Minister, thank you very much for your kind invitation to come to Jakarta. I’m looking very much forward to going to South Sulawesi tomorrow to open one of the schools to mark that great project between Australia and Indonesia and I look forward to returning to Indonesia on very many occasions in the future. Thank you.

Question: Sir, do you find it confusing that Australia intends to ask for clemency for drug smugglers but has no intention of asking for any form of mercy for the terrorists?

Wirajuda: We have quite a number of foreigners, not only Australians, who are sentenced to death and that are now on our death row. So it’s not particularly Australians that have approached us, but also we have received representations from a number of countries. Of course we understand the approach that has been made by the Australian Government to Indonesia. First because that we have a different point of view on the death penalty. In Australia and also in many other countries in particular in Western Europe the death penalty has been abolished. But in Indonesia it’s part of our domestic law. So it is in this context that we fully understand people’s different perception of not only government but people of Australia and the nature of the death penalty. But I wish to say that while we have the death penalty now as part of law but in practice that we didn’t announce formally the adoption of a moratorium that in the past 40 years I would say that very rarely of those who are now on death row were actually executed. And this issue is publicly debated here in Indonesia. This morning I read in the paper that the National Commission on Human Rights has asked the government also to consider the moratorium on the death penalty. So in other words this is an issue that is discussed publicly here but also for that matter we understand the concerns expressed by various governments, particularly in the situation of their nationals.

Question: Dr Wirajuda, if I could seek a little clarification and to check. Are you saying in that answer that the government is going to consider a moratorium on carrying executions and secondly in the light of Australia’s representations and the strength of the bilateral relationship you’ve both talked about, if Australia does make representations on behalf of those members of the Bali nine, does that mean that those representations are likely to be considered positively by Indonesia and have some impact on any decision on clemency.

Wirajuda: As Foreign Minister Smith just mentioned, all legal remedies have not been fully exhausted and that’s why the question of clemency is not on the table yet. That’s why we still have to wait what will be the final status of the three cases of the Bali nine. On the moratorium, at the government level, we haven’t yet discussed the issue as a policy matter but we have in the past without formally announcing it, we rarely implement the death penalty. Of course recently there has been an issue of concern to many people because there were those on death row who were executed. But don’t forget there is no question of discrimination here because even those who were recently executed were Indonesian nationals.

Question: Inaudible

Dr Wirajuda: (translated from Indonesian) About the case of 43 Papuans who sought asylum to Australia, actually from the Indonesian government’s point of view, we have considered it settled when temporary visas granted to them (inaudible). We consider their option to stay in Australia settled. However, I would like to add that some of them are sounding out a return to Papua. Something we like to consider positively as, I said before, this is part of the trend among the old as well as new diaspora to return to Papua. I have formally conveyed this information to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith. It has nothing to do with the death penalty case involving some Australian citizens here.

Smith: There is also a question to me about the Bali bombers. As I said to Australian media yesterday, the Australian government’s position on capital punishment is very clear and certainly understood by Indonesia. Australia does not have a death penalty and we argue in international forums to countries that do that they should move away from the death penalty. Where we find Australian citizens, as we do in Indonesia, who have been convicted of crimes subject to the death penalty then when all of the legal and judicial processes have exhausted themselves we make pleas of clemency on behalf of Australian citizens to the relevant nation state. Currently there are Australians subject to the death penalty in Indonesia and Vietnam and since I’ve become Foreign Minister I’ve made representations on their behalf to Indonesia and to Vietnam. When it comes to non-Australian citizens, we make a judgement on a case by case basis as to whether Australia will make representations on their behalf. For example since I became Foreign Minister there was an incident in Iran where Iran was proposing to execute a minor, a child and Australia joined with other nation states in making representations to Iran to desist from that. When it comes to terrorists who have been convicted and are subject to death penalty, Australia does not as a matter of policy make representations on their behalf. We make representations on behalf of Australian citizens in the manner that I have outlined. And in the case of the three remaining members of the Bali nine as the Minister and I have both earlier indicated, when all of the judicial and appeal processes have exhausted themselves, if any of the three are subject to a death penalty, Australia will make a plea of clemency on their behalf at that time.

Wirajuda: (translated from Indonesian) I would like to add the issue of (inaudible) in the death penalty is not only the concern of Australia but also our concern. We have a lot of cases where our citizens are on death row in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and just last week I also received a report that one of our compatriots (inaudible), after undergoing trials in Egypt, Cairo, was put on death row and might be executed anytime. This is an issue Indonesian citizens face, so don’t only focus on the Australian point of view.

Issues in international relations are indeed often discussed among us, not only because there are a lot of foreigners, especially those involved in drugs cases, that are handed down the death penalty, but in the case of drugs and firearms in Malaysia, a lot of Indonesian citizens are also handed down the death penalty. So it is how the government faces the frequent problems.

Question: (translated from Indonesian) Thank you. My name is (inaudible) from Voice of Indonesia, Radio Republic of Indonesia. I have three questions.

Sir, first about the Rp 22 trillion in assistance. What I would like to ask is what are the main reasons why Eastern Indonesia, especially Sumbawa Island, is chosen. Is this because of the presence of PT Newmont there?

Second, I have a question for your excellency Mr Smith but I would like to ask you in Bahasa and Mr Stephen can help me. About the maritime territorial border between Indonesia and Australia where Indonesia has handed over a report to the United Nations and up to now there has not been any common interpretation on the border areas of North Sumatera waters in Indonesia. Yesterday there were even differences in interpretation about the area so there was another bout of arrests. To date, has there been common interpretation between Indonesia and Australia about the maritime border areas?

Third, what is the latest development in the Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia free trade area?

Wirajuda: (translated from Indonesian) On the first question, Australia’s increased assistance has actually risen steeply following earthquakes and the tsunami in Aceh because at that time the Australian government announced A$1 billion in assistance and that was not restricted to disasters in Aceh and Nias. More than A$1 billion in assistance the Australian government pledged to commit - a hugely increased assistance program was targeted to help Indonesia develop infrastructure, such as schools and roads, not only in Slaws or islands in eastern Indonesia, but also in other regions, including Sumatera, where the education and road infrastructures require assistance. In this case, the planning was not solely done by Australia but the Australian government, in this case AusAID, jointly made the plan with us, in this case BAPPENAS (the National Planning Board).

Smith: To respond to the two questions. The first question was about Australia-Indonesia maritime boundaries. This was not the subject of discussion or conversation today. From memory in 1997 Australia and Indonesia signed an agreement in respect of maritime boundaries between our two nations and that’s on foot but it wasn’t the subject of conversations today.

Your third question was about the Australia New Zealand ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. This was the subject of conversation today and this I think it is fair to say that Australia and Indonesia have a shared attitude which is that we both believe that an Australia New Zealand ASEAN Free Trade Agreement would be an unambiguously good thing for Australia, Indonesia and also for ASEAN countries and the region generally. This was a matter we discussed briefly in Singapore but a matter which I also discussed with other ASEAN Foreign Ministers. Australia regards the completion or the conclusion of a free trade agreement with ASEAN and New Zealand as being very, very important. I think it’s also important in the aftermath of the regrettable collapse of the Doha talks in the last couple of weeks that we have a regional success and so Australia and Indonesia are both working very hard at negotiating levels to bring such a treaty to a successful conclusion which Australia would very much welcome as being in Australia’s interest and Indonesia’s interest but also in the interest of our regional generally.

Wirajuda: Thank you very much.


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