SBY: ASEAN Remains United and Foreign Ministers Should Prepare for Phnom Penh Summit; Continues the Call for Financial Inclusion at 1st International Islamic Summit
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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a special Press Conference on the morning of 16th July 2012 prior to departing for Surakarta, Central Java.
In his press statement, he informed that Foreign Minister Natalegawa had explained the developments of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) earlier in the morning, including the historic first time where the meeting failed to produce a Joint Communique. To this, President SBY expressed his dissapointment.
"To be clear, as one of the leaders of ASEAN, I am dissapointed and concerned because what just occured at that meeting may result in a misperception, or the wrong image of ASEAN. I follow the news on international media, and it says that ASEAN is broken up. They say there is no more unity in ASEAN, and let me make it clear, I disagree with this. ASEAN is not broken. There is no such thing as dis-unity in ASEAN. Even though there are challenges that ASEAN must address and resolve" SBY spoke out.
He realized that there existed many regional issues that need to be addressed and hence ministers need to find that common ground with the spirit of the ASEAN way.
"What should have occured is, no matter how complicated an issue, there must be a point of common interest. There must always be consensus. And that has been the political culture and tradition of ASEAN as it implemented all this time, or known as the ASEAN way" SBY added.
With this President SBY reminded that Indonesia too, during its Chairmanship in 2011 faced new arising regional challenges, including the Thai Cambodia Border Dispute, and the situation in Myanmar which became a heated topic. So too did the issue of South China Sea arise in 2011, even when the East Asia Summit convened in Bali November. The President recalled that as Chair, he was requested both not to address SCS debate and also requested to have deep discussions on the mattter at the EAS, but instead, SBY recalled the need to find a common ground on discussing the issue.
"We possessed a clear position, good intentions, positive perspectives, and should the issue of South China Sea be raised, it will be placed in the context of desiring to create a region that is peaceful, regulated, and later secure" the President reminded.
President SBY was cognizant that the situation was different in 2012 with some tension between China and the Philippines, but it was always critical to find a positive outcome and not finger point.
"We need not blame China, nor blame the Philippines. But there is a problem, and it should not be avoided but we must manage it. With a clear perspective, once again, it will be better if we together raise the issue with the objectives of safeguarding this region. This includes, how to place the issue of South China Sea in the most appropriate and correct setting for discussion" SBY appealed.
With this President SBY reminded that there were still four months before the Phom Pehn Summit where it will not only bring together the 10 ASEAN leaders but also other leaders in the Plus-1, Plus-3 and East Asia Summit Forums and no doubt the issue of South China Sea will be raised again. With this President SBY
conveyed his personal confidence to Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen as the host, and also to the Ministers of ASEAN, that the regional forum will be able to produce a perspective on the matter of South China Sea, especially as ASEAN played the central position.
"Remember one thing, when we discuss ASEAN Plus, be that Plus-1, Plus-3, that ASEAN remains at the driving seat. ASEAN centrality becomes very important. Infact when speaking about East Asia Summit, the 10 ASEAN countries plus 8 other countries, with the same spirit, hence ASEAN centrality becomes important. Therefor, for that reason, ASEAN must have a firm and strong position, and be very clear. We can listen to the views, and inputs from anyone, but at the end, with the spirit of togetherness, I am convinced that there is still a path that will trully manage the issue of South China Sea in the best way possible " SBY declared.
With this, SBY tasked his Ministers to help the host produce a favourable outcome.
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