Joint Press Conference — Inaugural Australia-Indonesia Foreign and Defence Ministers ("2+2") Dialogue

Subjects: Australia-Indonesia 2+2; Force Posture Review; Bali Process; Live Cattle Exports

Joint transcript, E&OE, proof only:

  • Senator Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Defence

15 March 2012

BOB CARR: Ladies and gentlemen, hosting this inaugural Australian-Indonesia two-plus-two dialogue has been the highlight of my first week as Australia's Foreign Minister.

What happens in Indonesia and how Indonesia sees the world is hugely important for Australia. It was my friend Paul Keating who put it this way, quote: no country is more important to Australia than Indonesia. If we fail to get this relationship right and nurture and develop it, the whole web of our foreign relations is incomplete.

To get this relationship right, to nurture it and develop it, the Australian Government initiated annual bilateral discussions between our countries' respective Foreign and Defence Ministers and today's two-plus-two dialogue was the first of these meetings and is an historic step forward in the bilateral relationship.

My colleagues and I discussed a range of matters important to Australia and Indonesia including bilateral security and Defence cooperation under the Lombok Treaty. We also discussed wider regional cooperation, the current global environment and its implications for Australia and Indonesia.

We already work together in substantial ways. Indonesia played a key role as chair of the East Asia Summit last year. It was a critical time with US and Russian entry. And with Indonesia hosting APEC in 2013 and Australia hosting the G-20 in 2014 our cooperation in these groupings will continue to strengthen.

It was a timely opportunity for I and my two Indonesian colleagues to become acquainted. We had a good discussion just before the two-plus-two meeting where we, the Foreign Minister and I, where we put in some of the groundwork for what I hope will be a very productive, close working relationship.

We enjoy a strong and broad partnership founded on the Lombok Treaty and today we shared ideas on how to make the relationship even stronger.

The meeting reinforced for me the real depth of the relationship and the impressive amount of work we're already doing together in regional and multilateral fora as well as bilaterally. It also underlined Australia and Indonesia being important players both regionally and globally. There's almost no area that would not benefit from greater discussion and cooperation between us.

MARTY NATALEGAWA: Well thank you very much. May I begin on behalf of myself and my good colleague and friend, the Minister of Defence of Indonesia, Bapak Purnomo, by conveying our most heartfelt appreciation to both you, Bob, as well as Stephen and the Government of Australia, for welcoming us in such a warm way and such a friendly way for the two-plus-two meeting we have just concluded just now.

I concur wholeheartedly with your comments just now, Bob, about the state of Indonesia-Australia relations and about the nature of our discussion earlier, both the bilateral that we've just had as well as the two-plus-two that we've had with our Minister of Defence colleagues.

Indonesia would like to describe our relations with Australia as being strong, as being solid and as being critically important not only bilaterally but also in its obvious impact to the region at large. But at the same time we recognise that there is actually plenty of room for further improvement and enhancement in terms of trade, in terms of investment, in terms of people to people relations.

But most of all today, because of the nature of our forum, namely the two-plus-two involving Foreign Ministers as well as Defence Ministers, we were able I think, throughout the course of our discussion to recognise better how closely entwined our relations are on various issues because we had discussed not only bilateral cooperative issues — defence cooperation, law enforcement cooperation — but also regional and multilateral issues as well: ASEAN, the East Asia Summit, the broader regional architecture, developments in the region such as Myanmar, South China Sea, maritime cooperation, Bali Democracy Forum, the United Nations.

So this has been a time well spent, I think, this morning in terms of being able to see the big picture in terms of Indonesia-Australia relations.

This will be quite an important year in our bilateral relations. Next May, if all goes according to plan, the President of the Republic of Indonesia will be visiting Australia, I believe some time in May, probably in Darwin, if I'm not mistaken, for the annual leaders' meeting that the leaders are having every year.

So our discussion today is part of the preparation for that leaders' level meeting and I must say that, all in all, the relations, as I said, is strong and solid and profoundly important but I am, you know, looking for more opportunities for enhancement of that already very positive relations.

May I, before handing over to my Defence Minister colleague, take this opportunity to congratulate once again Honourable Bob Carr for his appointment as the Foreign Minister of Australia and I look forward very much to continue the very long tradition of not only a working relationship but strong personal bonds that we have traditionally established as ministers, both with yourself, I'm sure in the future, and from now on, beforehand with Kevin and of course with Stephen before in your different capacity, because the two Foreign Ministers and Defence Ministers have critical importance in managing and promoting our bilateral relations.

Thank you very much once again for welcoming us. Thank you.

STEPHEN SMITH: Well thanks, Bob. Can I join with you in publicly welcoming Marty and Pak Purnomo to Australia for our two-plus-two.

As Bob and Marty did this morning, Pak Purnomo and I had a formal bilateral meeting before our two-plus-two.

The holding of the two-plus-two or the meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers is a very important and, indeed, I think, a historic moment. Australia does a two-plus-two with the United States, our alliance partner, the United Kingdom and Japan, and we're the first country to do a two-plus-two with Indonesia so it's a very important development in our relationship.

As Bob and Marty have both said, just as our overall relationship is at an all-time high so, it is true, I believe, of our defence to defence and military to military relationship. Indonesia is Australia's most important defence partner in our region.

The trappings of defence to defence and military to military relationship are essentially maritime security, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, intelligence sharing and peacekeeping.

And, indeed, I've previously made the point that Australia takes great pride in being, in 1947, the first country with troops on the ground under a UN mandate to essentially help the UN to separate fledgling Indonesian forces from Dutch forces. And so our joint effort and role in peacekeeping is of long standing and very valued.

The training and exercise that we do is at its highest level for a decade and a half, whether that's coordinated maritime patrols, whether it's hijack or hostage recovery exercises, whether it's the training and education that we do or the peacekeeping work that we do including very strong support for Jakarta's Indonesian Armed Forces Peacekeeping Centre.

We're also very pleased that after a very short period of time the Australia-Indonesia Defence Alumni Association is working very strongly and that underpins the longstanding defence to defence, military to military education and training relationship that we have and that has emerged as a very important sounding board for our defence to defence relationship.

In addition to our bilateral work, of course we work very closely in the region. The expanded East Asia Summit also sees the so-called ASEAN Defence Ministers Plus which is Defence Ministers meeting in the expanded East Asia Summit format and we also work very closely in the Indian Ocean region, the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation and we've reaffirmed our commitment to work even more closely on those fronts.

In terms of specific agreements today, we're progressing the gift from Australia of four C-130s. That's progressing well. We are aiming to finalise our negotiations for a defence cooperation agreement in the course of the next couple of months. Given that we're now doing annual leaders' meeting and a two-plus-two meeting, Pak Purnomo has invited me to Jakarta in the second half of this year to start annual Defence Ministers' meetings and I welcome that very much.

So, as Bob and Marty have both said, a most successful and productive day for the first two-plus-two meeting between Australia and Indonesia.

Thanks, Bob.

PURNOMO YUSGIANTORO: Well being the shortest, let me talk to you briefly. Well, I am the shortest here and fatter.

Well I am pleased to be here at the two-plus-two meetings with the colleagues here — the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defence. I second my friends here in front of you regarding the result of the meeting. We are really pleased with the result of the meetings. That was adapted by the leaders when they met in Bali last year.

Let me recall first, the comprehensive partnership that was signed back in year 2005. Since then, you know, the cooperation — the relation between two countries are really strong and strengthened further from time to times.

In the defence cooperation I like to underline the people to people contact. Last night and this morning I talked with several officials that now study here in Australia and they really enjoy it. They really gain knowledge and I believe when they return home they're going to become the ambassador of Australia in Indonesia.

We talk with my counterpart here the cooperation and the counter-terrorism since the 2002 bombing in Bali. We worked together and give thanks to the Australian that support us with counter-terrorism training centres in Indonesia. And also we talk how then we can strengthen the coordinated battle.

One thing that I mentioned that Indonesia now is building the huge area 260 hectares of the — what do you call it? The Indonesia Peace and Security Centre consists of the seven projects — peace keeping operation, peace keeping centres, counter-terrorism training ground, humanitarian assistant training ground, stand by forces, language centre, the campus of the University of Defence, and the military games, military sport.

And I believe that Australia is supporting us too in that case, you know, for building that project and we would like, on behalf of the Government Republic of Indonesia, to thank the Australian Government.

As my colleague the Defence Minister Stephen said that we are preparing also for the meetings in May in Darwin between leaders to leaders, especially how then we proceed with the C-130's, with our defence to defence cooperation and also how then we will move to the joint exercise in several occasions.

I think that's what I can say to add to what my colleagues just mentioned to you before. Thank you.

BOB CARR: Well folks, I understand this is a very civilised precedent for press conferences in these circumstances. I think there are two questions from the Indonesian side and two from the Australian side. I think that makes sense.

STEPHEN SMITH: That's why it's two-plus-two.

BOB CARR: Exactly. From some of our Indonesia friends with the first question.

JOURNALIST: Hi, I'm Devianti from Metro TV. I'd like to ask about the existence of US Marines in the Northern Territory. How will it impact relations between Indonesia and Australia because there are beliefs that the posting of thousands of US Marines in the Northern Territory could create tension and mistrust in the region?

BOB CARR: I've got a happier view and that's based on the comments by the Indonesian President. President Yudhoyono made clear in Bali last year that he was satisfied with the announcement about the US Force Posture Review. He welcomed the assurances that were issued around that initiative.

The initiatives are designed to reinforce regional stability and offer one additional important advantage and that is providing the enhanced cooperation with regional partners including on humanitarian and disaster relief. And we had an enormously useful discussion on using that US presence to build a multi-lateral response in disasters.

I might ask my Indonesian colleague to elaborate on that because he has given a great deal of thought to it.

MARTY NATALEGAWA: Well, thank you very much Bob. Thank you for the question.

Yes, when the policy announcement was made towards the end of last year, I recall around November of last year — question was asked and answers provided in a sense that the Indonesian Government had asked both the United States as well as the Australian Government about the nature of the Force Posture Review, about the nature of the planned deployment of US capacity in Australia. And that those questions were provided answers for.

Now, our interest from the very outset is to ensure that such development as anywhere else, any other developments in our different parts of our region is actually contributing to the peace and stability of our region — the Asia Pacific. And more specifically, I think as Bob had mentioned, Indonesia had suggested that if indeed one of the potential benefit of such force would be to address challenges such as disaster response capacity we should, you know, try to make that happen.

And earlier during our discussion we had reminded ourselves that Indonesia and Australia at the last East Asia Summit had jointly presented to the East Asia Summit a concept on rapid response capacity in responding to natural disasters. So we resolve to use that as the umbrella to which we can talk with our partners in our region to work in concert in a cohesive way, in a comprehensive way in dealing with the challenge of natural disasters.

So, in other words, if there were some questions initially those questions have been provided answers with.

Thank you.

JOURNALIST: [Indistinct] questions for the Indonesian side. To the Foreign Minister, in 2010 you described the turn back the boats policy as backward looking. Is that still your view and would you cooperate in any boat turn back from international waters to Indonesia by the Australian Navy?

And to the Indonesian Defence Minister, does Indonesia consider it its duty to use its own Navy to stop the boats leaving your shores?

MARTY NATALEGAWA: Yes, it's called the Bali Process, our approach is. It means that countries of origin, countries of transit like Indonesia as well as destination like Australia all work hand in hand in a collaborative and integrated way in addressing, in preventing, in disrupting and in dealing in managing cases of people smuggling.

Now, from that kind of mindset and naturally it would be impossible and not advisable even to simply shift the nature of the challenge from any of the continuum to the other. So that's where we are coming from in terms of approach and I think that provides a hint of when in [indistinct] of how we feel about policies that simply pass the nature of the problem to different faces of that chain. Because we have the origin, we have the transit and we have the destination and all three of us must be presenting ourselves collectively, not partially, collectively as part of the solution.

And I must say we have been doing that despite all the various impressions that may be created. As a matter of fact, Indonesia and Australia have been working very closely along that kind of talk process, not only bilaterally but as correspondents of the Bali Process we are actually projecting that approach be on bilaterally to our region.

So, I think we must nurture and continue with that kind of approach so that we can truly have a comprehensive and a good solution to what is increasingly becoming a big problem.

PURNOMO YUSGIANTORO: Yeah. For the Navy we ask the Navy that follow the regulation, the policy that we had as the Minister of Foreign Affairs said that we will not do the [indistinct] acts to the illegal migrants but what we do really is to prevent those peoples when it comes to the countries to Indonesia to make sure that they are treated well and they are also treated as what the rule under the Bali Process is.

BOB CARR: Question from an Indonesian journalist.

MARTY NATALEGAWA: You want to take a second—

JOURNALIST: To Dr Marty Natalegawa, is it true that the question about live cattle exports created some controversy? Is it true that, in fact, you're now considering increasing the quota again for Australian exports to Indonesia?

MARTY NATALEGAWA: No. You can ask me about ASEAN or East Asia Summit, but I'm not as well versed on the technicalities about live cattle export as my Agriculture Minister would be.

But I can only provide the overarching picture. I think, since the episode that our two countries went through recently, there is already a strong determination from both sides to be able to address this issue. The interests of the exporters from Australia, the interests of Indonesia, as the importing country, in a cohesive and in a mutually beneficial way.

So, I cannot go beyond that, apart from giving assurances that this is an issue growing — lessons learned from the previous episode where the technical Ministers very much hands on in wanting to ensure it does not disrupt our bilateral relations.

JOURNALIST: To the Indonesian side, does the policy of basing US Marines in Darwin cause any concerns in the context of containment of China or are there any fears among the Indonesians that it could cause a regional arms race?

PURNOMO YUSGIANTORO: Well, as our President and myself stated in the media before that we don't have a problem at all with the placement of the United States Marines in Darwin.

We had the bilateral talk before with President Obama and also with the Defense Minister, Mr Leon Panetta, in Indonesia, and they explained clearly and also, Prime Minister Gillard, when we had the bilateral meeting then, clear, that we're going to optimise the presence of the US Marine for the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. And in the two-on-two meetings that we had this morning, we also planned to proceed with this kind of exercise.

So, I don't think that there'd be a problem in respect of the Government to Government.

JOURNALIST: Mr Carr, can we get your thoughts on that? Were there discussions on China and the need to prevent the perception of containment? Dr Natalegawa has expressed his concerns about containing China. Was that discussed this morning?

BOB CARR: No, there weren't discussions in any terms remotely like that. Our discussions were about the achievements of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit, and the successful regional diplomacy that has dealt with sensitive issues like the South China Seas.

My colleague may wish to say further on that, but certainly, nothing that resembled the terms you've used.

MARTY NATALEGAWA: Overall, the subject of the region's architecture, its dynamics, of course, would be part of discussion whenever Defence and Foreign Ministers meet. I think there is a general wish on the part of both countries to ensure that our region, namely, the Asia Pacific, continues to remain benign, and peaceful and stable and that we not revert to any conditions that would jeopardise that kind of already very positive outlook.

I have said on previous occasions, Indonesia has always believed that be peace and stability and the conditions conducive in our region would be best served if there was to be a dynamic equilibrium for our region where there is not an ab… there is an absence of preponderant power, whether it be country A or country B. And — but that happy situation be brought about by the promotion of ideas of common security, common prosperity, security within rather than security against.

But I think — you know, if you recall, the leaders at the East Asia Summit in Bali last November subscribed themselves to the so-called Bali principles adopted by the East Asia Summit leaders, which among other things, speaks of solving conflicts to disputes through peaceful resolution, diplomacy, rather than use of force.

So, I think the embryo, the genesis is there for our region to be — to promote that kind of a more inclusive, continuously benign regional domain and architecture.

STEPHEN SMITH: Can I just add on the Force Posture you will recall that in the aftermath of the announcement during President Obama's visit of the rotational presence of the United States Marine task force group, President Yudhoyono suggested publicly that, in due course, it might be a good prospect to see Australia, United States and Indonesia engaged in training exercises, to which both Australia and the United States responded positively. Obviously, down the track.

I've also seen suggestions subsequently that maybe you could have Australia, United States, Indonesia and other countries, including — and, in particular, China. We spoke about this in passing today, and we don't discount that down the track.

In terms of exercises from Australia and Indonesia in our region now, as Marty and Bob have earlier said, what we're now proposing to focus on is using the East Asia Summit humanitarian assistance and disaster relief framework to now start seeing if we can build links with countries in our region to do not just humanitarian assistance and disaster relief between Australia and Indonesia, but with our partners in the region.

But we don't discount, in the longer term, as a result of the presence of US Marine task force group rotationally in the Northern Territory that, in due course, we couldn't see, not just exercises by them, not just exercises with Australian forces, but also exercises with other countries in our region, particularly in the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief area.

BOB CARR: Thank you, ladies and gentleman. I've — as a modest symbol of Indonesia-Australia cooperation, Marty and I have exchanged mobile numbers, and his mobile number's now lodged in my telephone-

MARTY NATALEGAWA: Yes.

BOB CARR: -as is mine in his.

MARTY NATALEGAWA: Good point.

BOB CARR: It's a good symbol.

MARTY NATALEGAWA: Thanks very much.

BOB CARR: Thank you.

PURNOMO YUSGIANTORO: Thank you, Bob.

BOB CARR: Purnomo, thank you very much. Thank you.

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