SBYs Outlines 9 points for Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution at First Strategic Review Forum in Jakarta; Renews Indonesian Diaspora Outreach for National Development
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On 17th July 2012, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono arrived from Surakarta and later in the afternoon officially opened the Strategic Review Forum and its official launching of the Strategic Review Journal at the Shangrila Dialogue. Later in the evening he also receive Indonesian Ambassador to Washington DC, Dr Dino Pati Djalal to share the findings of the recent Conference on Indonesian Diaspora in Los Angeles earlier in the month.
Sharing Indonesia's Experience in Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution
The first Strategic Review Forum was attended by former Timor Leste President Ramos Horta, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, and former Prime Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The room was packed with scholars, , diplomats, high ranking military and police officials and also the media.
In his remarks, President SBY congratulated the organisers and the Chief Editor, former Foreign Minister Dr Hassan Wirajuda for making the Indonesian Journal a landmark for Indonesian contribution in international foreign policy publications and also encouraging more Indonesian thinkers to contribute more to global discourse of international relations.
"I hope Strategic Review will continue to bring a world of ideas to Indonesia and also project Indonesia’s ideas to the world. I would also like to use this occasion to encourage Indonesian scholars and intellectuals to write more for national and international journals – for some reason, Indonesia still falls short in terms of published works in academic journals, and I know we can do better because we have a vibrant intellectual community here in our country".
Since its soft launch in August 2011, Strategic Review has published four more editions, thus staying true to its original promise sof regularity, consistency, and quality. Strategic Review has also been enriched by the contributions of numerous prominent Indonesian and international political, social, and economic figures.
Along the lines of the discussion at hand, President SBY also conveyed the particular circumstance which Indonesia possesses in the field of reconciliation and confidence building.
"Reconciliation and conflict resolution is also something that is critical to the stability of nations and to the future of our region. Here in Indonesia, owing to our particular situation, we have found that the hard work of nation-building and democratic transition constantly involve efforts to resolve conflicts and promote reconciliation. In my years as President, I have found that healing the wounds can be not just the most challenging task, but also the most rewarding. There is no peace, no freedom, no stability unless we take out the cancerous seeds of conflict and hatred from our society, and replace them with seeds of amity and good will. I do believe that the basic thrust of the human heart is that of love and goodness, and this makes the struggle for peace possible, even in the most difficult situations involving sworn enemies. Indeed, hope is the most powerful weapon to destroy the ills of the world : tyranny, poverty, diseases, extremism, ignorance and others" SBY remarked.
The President stated that Indonesia has been blessed to be where it was today. "Our democracy is strong. Our civil society is robust. Our economy is growing reasonably well. Our international position is more solid. And, insya Allah our future is bright" he declared.
And yet he reminded that such earnings were not always evident, not always certain and definitely not always something the Indonesians could believe in.
"Some of us may be tempted to take all this for granted – as if this is the way it should always be. Well, don’t. These things did not come easy to us : we earned them. Since 1999, we have re-built our system brick by brick. We made sure every election was done right, and that every vote counts. We relentlessly pushed for policy reforms. We over-came every trials and tribulation that stood in our path. And we sorted out each of our conflicts one by one" SBY uttered
Sharing his lessons, President SBY pointed out nine factors of success, namely:
"Firstly, I believe very strongly that every conflict is amenable to peaceful political solutionThis may not be obvious to all conflict situations, but I do believe that this is true" SBY called out.
The fact that some conflicts remain unresolved after decades, and even centuries, did not mean that they are permanently irreconcilable he stated. Someday, the right combination of events, interests, generational changes, evolving leaders – and also luck – will unlock the situation. looking at Apartheid and also the case of Northern Ireland, SBY professed hope also for the Arab Israeli Conflict.
"In this spirit, I do believe that the age-old Arab-Israeli conflict will find resolution in the decades of the 21st century, something which most likely will require a transformational approach to renew the bonds between the Abrahamic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism"
"Second, every conflict has its own personality. No two conflicts are alike. Every conflict has its own character, its own, rhytim, its own dynamics, its own idiosyncrasies. So many conflicts linger on, and become worse, because decision makers fail to scratch the surface, and thus could not understand the real essence of the conflict. Knowing the profile of the conflict, is the first step in figuring our the right formula to fix it."SBY underlined.
In his attempt to under-stand the conflict, there was always something new that he can learn and every detail – no matter how small – helped in the decision making
"Third, it is always better to prevent conflict before it happens, than to cure it once it erupts. Preventing conflict before it happens is better, easier, cheaper, safer, faster and more effective"
"Fourth, reconciliation and conflict resolution requires leadership. The function of leadership is to drive and push a political process, that is usually very difficult to construct and get off the ground. Leadership means having the courage to make difficult decisions, sometimes going against the tyde, and take the risks even if it leads to his or her own downfall"
When the government pursued the peace process in Aceh in 2005 after the tsunami, it was not a popular thing to do – and some questioned it.
"There was a high risk of failure but we took the odds, because we knew, post-tsunami Aceh could not be rebuild without peace on the ground. I know that my good friend Jose Ramos Horta and Xanana Gusmao also took this risk when dealing with difficult issues with Indonesia – but in the interest to promote reconciliation, they wisely took the hits and stood their ground, because they knew it was the right thing to do, and the right fight to fight. That is leadership" SBY stated as he looked to President Horta. the floor was filled with clapping hands.
"Fifth, when a conflict cannot be resolved, then manage it. If the conditions for resolution are absent, do not force it, but keep the conflict contained, manageable, and controllable."
He also stated that there will come a time when the calculus and the dynamics will change, perhaps even the players will change, and suggested that when that time comes-- to make the best of it.
"This applies best in the South China Sea, where 6 claimants – 4 of them from ASEAN – are involved in territorial and jurisdictional disputes. It is safe to assume, given the extreme complexity of the overlapping claims, that we will not see a diplomatic resolution of the South China Sea disputes in the short term, perhaps even in the medium term. Short of a comprehensive resolution, the claimants must do their best to manage and contain the disputes, to make sure that it does not escalate or worst, lead to the outbreak of military clashes, as had happened in the past. The countries in the region should help the claimants manage their disputes and keep the temperature low. This is why the work of the ASEAN – China Working Group to produce a meaningful and practicable Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is central to improving confidence building. It will help enhance strategic predictabili-ty and bolster regional, stability in a region that desperately need it" SBY reminded.
"Sixth, in every conflict, there will always be a window of opportunity. This window of opportunity is usually small and momentary, but it can lead to possible solutions. The hard part for leaders is to spot it and not miss it"
In Aceh, the window came in the aftermath of the tsunami. In the midst of enormous desperation, we saw an opening for a new peace effort, judging from the psychological predisposition of the Acehnese people. Surely, anyone with conscience would have to be moved by the incredible sufferings in Aceh and respond to peace gesture – and this they did. If we had missed that narrow windown of opportunity, who knows, Aceh would not be the place it is today : peaceful and rehabilitated.
Seventh, to promote reconciliation and conflict resolution, it is always helpful to adopt a pragmatic, flexible, forward-looking approach. A rigid dogmatic approach is not likely to deliver results. Finding the ingredients for peace takes a lot of listening, and a lot of challenging the old assumptions"
Again on the case of Aceh, SBY reminded that to revive the peace talks in Aceh that finally led to permanent peace, all parties needed an open mind and also to change the mindset.
" I was convinced that a purely military solution would not deliver peace. I was convinced that a win-win strategy that regards our negotiating counterparts as potential partners for peace would undo the gridlock" SBY added
"This leads to my eighth point : the most critical thing to achieve in a peace deal is trust building between the actors in conflict. In the Aceh negotiations, there was a critical time, a turning point, when the negotiating actually began LISTENING to one another, rather than talking past one another. This emergence of trust and confidence carried the negotiations a long way. It broke walls, and allowed them take greater risks. And even until today, the negotiating partners remain friends".
This was a case suggested also for Myanmar SBY added.
"I believe it is also this emergence of trust between Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein – something which she has publicly acknowledged - that has made democratic developments in Myanmar more hopeful these days. This trust – which did not exist before – became a powerful force driving positive change and optimism in Myanmar, and we all hope that they continue to harness it and spread it" SBY underlined.
"Finally, the ninth point, it must be said that the only thing more important than making peace is keeping it. There are too many examples in history, where a hard won peace crumbled because the stake-holders became complacent afterwards. Peace-building requires systemic, long term efforts. And it must be comprehensive, involving political, legal, economic, social, and cultural measures. Ultimately, peace building requires sustained political will by the leadership. The difference between a good peace building and a poor one is, the difference between a short-lived peace and a long lasting one" SBY stated.
Again referring to the case of Timor Leste he stated that reconciliation and conflict resolution is a powerful force as he was emotionally blown away during his last visit to the country.
"A few weeks ago, in May, I had the privelege to visit Dili to attend the 10th Anniversary of Restoration of Timor Leste’s Independence. It was a truly memorable occasion – not just because of the impressive official ceremonies, but because of the public affection that I witnessed. As President of Indonesia, everywhere I went, I was warmly greeted with smiling faces and welcoming chants by the people of Timor Leste. I was so deeply touched by this massive gesture of friend-ship and kindness shown to me, and by extension, to Indonesia. It was then that I realised this the people of Timor Leste, like us in Indonesia, wanted to build a future, not stuck and burdened by the past. This is what we both deserve : a future of peaceful partnership and common prosperity"
In finishing his statement, SBY referred to the ongoing tense situation other parts of the world and hoped for peace to continue spreading in all regions, including the Middle East
"In this regard, I do hope that the democratic transition process that is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa will will transform the region into full-fledge democracies. At the same time, we need to further nurture the transition process, by ways of supporting nation-building and reconciliation. In the case of Syria, I believe that we must find a solution to the on-going conflict. The international community cannot stay idle as innocent victims continue to fall. I have been in close communications with Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on this, and I have proposed several recommendations to him along the lines of the solution of the Lebanon-Israel conflict. In 2006, I too had a similar consultation with then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the Lebanon crisis" SBY stated.
With this, he once again declared the commitment of Indonesia in forging peace, stability and prosperity
"For our part, Indonesia will continue our active contribution towards international peace and security, as we have done so in the past. In the 1990s, we assisted in the peaceful resolution of conflicts in southern Philippines, and Indonesia was the first country to be able to engage all the claimants in the South China Sea and all ASEAN states in an informal track-two process. More recently, we are playing a role in facilitating talks on the Thai-Cambodia border disputes, and we actively supported the democratic transformation in Myanmar, and we continue to do so" SBY concluded.
Renewed Commitment to Strengthen Diaspora Dialogue for Development
Later in the evening, President SBY received Ambassador Djalal to hear the outcomes of diplomacy to reach out to Indonesians not in Indonesia at the first Conference on Indonesian Diasporas in Los Angeles. Attending the briefing was not only Cabinet Secretary and Minister for State Secretariat but also Foreign Minister, Education and Culture Minister and Chairman of the Economic Commite. In his deliberations, the Ambassador reported that some 2000 participants had attended with Indonesians not only from all over the US but from Canada, Madagascar, Suriname, Middle East and South Africa and also Europe. It was suggested that there may be as much as 10 million Indonesian diasporas abroad. the nature of such diasporas were considered to be mostly skilled and were eager to participate in national development. To this end, the next CID will be hosted in Jakarta in August, with the theme "Diapora Pulang Kampung" where an expected 10,000 participants will be anticipated.
To this, the President agreed with the recommendations of the CID, which is to establish a special visa classification for the diaspora's, continue the policies of the Foreign Office in reaching out to the diasporas and facilitate their intent to invest and contribute to national development.
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