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General Wayan Midhio, Excellencies, Dear Students of the Defence University, dear friends,
It is a pleasure to be here, in this centre representing such an excellence for peacekeeping and counterterrorism, in Asia and worldwide. I look forward to touring the different parts of this camp – but the very existence of this Peace and Security Centre is so telling about Indonesia, how you see the world and your place in global politics.
Security has become a global matter, a global public good. And you, my Indonesian friends, have seen this coming much earlier than many others around the globe. Events at one corner of the world have the potential to influence the entire planet. At times, it takes years before we even realise. Other times, the shock waves spread at incredible speed.
We have been reminded about this in the saddest of ways, with the recent global tide of terrorist attacks. The groups and modalities might differ, from the attacks in Bali, almost 15 years ago, to the ones in Jakarta and Brussels just weeks ago. The brands change, the terrorist franchise evolves. But the motives are too often the same: they aim at dividing our societies and our nations, because our unity in diversity is their greatest enemy. We can only respond by strengthening our unity and our diversity, and our cooperation – across continents and culture, beyond any fake narrative of a clash of civilisations.
Indonesia has put international cooperation at the core of its external action. This very place testifies such commitment. Europeans cannot forget your solidarity during the war in the Balkans, with the peacekeeping mission to Bosnia of the 1990s. Three weeks ago I was in Lebanon and once again met with the head of the UNIFIL mission. You know better than I do that the biggest contingent there is from Indonesia. The second biggest is from Italy, my home country. Our nations can be a world apart, but our interests bind us together.
And this is particularly true when we think of the Middle East. Indonesia plays an important role inside the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation: the extraordinary summit on Jerusalem – hosted in Jakarta one month ago – shows how relevant your engagement can be, and how much work we have to do together. At the beginning of the year Minister Retno Marsudi headed to Saudi Arabia and Iran to help defuse the tensions between the countries. During those weeks we kept in constant contact, to coordinate our strategies and messages.
And we decided just yesterday to continue to do so, as we share the same vision: building cooperative approaches to overcome crisis and conflict. Indonesia knows that events in the Middle East can impact your security. The same goes for Europe and the Far East. Our European Union understands that security is global, just as much as you do.
And when distances grow smaller, geography becomes even more important. Wherever I go around the world, including in this part of the world, our European Union is among the first trading partners. Much of this trade goes through the open seas, including through the Indonesian archipelago. President Jokowi is totally right when he says Indonesia can be a global maritime fulcrum. Europeans share an interest to make this hub safe, efficient and secure. Cooperation on maritime security is a win-win situation, and our joint efforts can pay off for both Europe and Indonesia.
We also share an interest for all maritime disputes to be settled in a peaceful way. I am also talking of the South China Sea. I will not take position on which island belongs to whom but let me be clear on something: no dispute can or should be settled through the use of force. Unilateral action can only make the region more unstable – and this can benefit no one. Only cooperative solutions can serve everyone’s interest, in the respect of international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. So I really hope that negotiations towards a Code of Conduct between ASEAN and China can move forward and fast.
Europe and Indonesia have the same priorities and the same approach – on this as well as on all issues concerning our shared security. We care just as much as you do that the Korean Peninsula finds finally peace and security, that North Korea stops all provocations and sticks to UN Security Council Resolutions. The deal with Iran has taught us something: on non-proliferation and nuclear safety: that even the most difficult challenges are possible to overcome if we build unity and determination in the international community and we look for win-win solutions. Everyone has much to gain from global cooperation.
There has been a time – not so long ago – when the leaders of the so-called West believed they could be the policemen of the entire world. We have all witnessed to the damages of unilateral action and military adventurism. In today’s Europe, we perfectly understand that the so-called West has a role to play by building strong partnerships with strong partners. And Indonesia is one of those. We have much to learn from you, and we can all learn from each other.
Speaking in this Centre, our cooperation on counter-terrorism and the fight against radicalisation comes immediately to mind. Inside the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, Indonesia is leading the working group of detention and rehabilitation – where you hold world-class expertise. We have achieved great results together, through EU-funded UN projects, on fighting terrorist financing and freezing terrorists’ assets – and we all know how crucial this is in our fight against terror.
In these difficult times, this country can be a source of inspiration for Europeans and for the whole world. Hundreds of languages and ethnic groups live together in peace, sharing a flag and a set of values. Based upon the principles of Pancasila this is a country where mosques, churches and temples stand close to each other – and just coming here I saw a church standing next to a mosque. And let me also say – and this is maybe a sad note – that this is the way in which the Middle East used to live and I hope this is also the way that Europe will live, if we finally embrace the true meaning of our motto: unity in diversity.
We come from different places, but we face similar challenges – including the fight against those who try to turn a religion of peace into an ideology of hatred. I value very much our dialogue with Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's largest Muslim organisations. Of course our societies are different. But the patterns of radicalisation are sometimes similar, and we can share our experiences on what works and what doesn’t. A good dose of humility is necessary. None of us alone has all the answers. But together, we can try and make both our societies a better place for everyone.
Europe, on its side, is ready to get even more involved in Asia’s security. And let me tell you: a growing number of Asian countries is realising that Europe is not just a big free trade area – but a global security provider.
Our Indonesian friends know us much better than many other countries in the region. It’s been over ten years since the end of the conflict in Aceh. Since then we have been by your side in so many different ways: we have monitored the implementation of the deal and trained your police, we have worked on reconciliation and reintegration, as well as on reconstruction after the tsunami. Here in Indonesia: we understood in real life the meaning of “human security”. Aceh has shaped our peacekeeping textbooks and missions – including the engagement we are currently planning for Colombia, when the government and the FARC will sign a peace deal. And Indonesia has also learnt a lot, on peacekeeping and crisis management in natural disasters: your expertise allows you to give advice and support to other countries in the region.
Today, it is becoming more and more frequent for Asian countries to invest on security cooperation with our European Union. Last February, many were surprised when we were first invited as observers to the Mindanao peace panels. To those who know the way we work, it should be no surprise. We have been committed to reconciliation in the Philippines for years, and we would be ready to help with the implementation of the peace agreement. Both sides recognise us as a serious and trustful interlocutor. It is not hard to see how crucial this can be for peace.
In Myanmar, after years of engagement with the democratic transition, the parties have asked the EU to sign the national ceasefire agreement, as an international observer. I have spoken to Aung San Suu Kyi, and I look forward to working with her in her new capacity. We will keep working with the new government on the broadest range of issues – from poverty reduction to the situation of the Rohingya minority and migration, which is the other great issue of our days. Indonesia could also play an important role, with its own expertise of a transition to democracy. Europe and Indonesia could both do their part, to the benefit of Myanmar and its people.
The same goes for Afghanistan, where the stakes are even higher. Last year, speaking at the United Nations, I said Afghanistan needs a three-fold new covenant: a new covenant inside its society, a new covenant among regional powers, and a new covenant between Kabul and the international community. The European Union is about to co-host an international conference on Afghanistan, next October in Brussels. All who want to positively contribute to the future of Afghanistan should have a chance to do so. The old mentality of spheres of influence should find no place in today’s world. On issues of common concern, we can only seek the broadest cooperation in a coordinated way.
It is time for new ties; it is time for stronger ties. Cooperation can evolve into partnership – even more so between friends who think alike.
Our European Union and Indonesia are among the world’s largest democracies. We both care about global peace and stability. We have both united around the same idea – that our diversity will make us stronger: Unity in Diversity.
Beyond our bilateral ties, cooperation within, and between, regional organisations will be fundamental. In a world of continent-sized powers, all countries – even if they are as big as Indonesia – have much to gain from unions and alliances. This is true for Europe, in the first place: none of us, European countries, can stand alone faced with the current challenges and threats. But this can also be true for ASEAN. Our histories are different, our projects for integration are autonomous. But on all the issues we are discussing today – from peace-building to counter-terrorism – the potential for our cooperation is immense.
In just a few days the European Union will attend the ASEAN Navy Chiefs' 2016 Komodo exercise, here in Indonesia, which will focus on maritime peacekeeping operations. This is the first time the EU is invited to an ASEAN Plus multilateral naval exercise. We understand and support ASEAN centrality in the regional security architecture. For this very reason, I can only hope this will be a first step towards closer cooperation and a strategic partnership between ASEAN and our European Union.
Security has become global. Threats go well beyond borders and sovereignty. A changing and challenging security environment calls for creative solutions. We need to explore new formats, engaging with new actors and across continents. We need networks of regional alliances, for a more cooperative world order. Peace and stability in the 21st century can only result from a collective effort. I came here to tell you we are ready to do our part in cooperation and in partnership with you. Thank you.