President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) chaired two of three meetings on the second day of the 42nd ASEAN Summit at Meruorah Hotel in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, on Thursday. The two meetings chaired by Jokowi are the Retreat Session and Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) Summit.
In his speech at the opening of the Session, Jokowi mentioned two important issues that became the focus of the discussion, namely reviews of the implementation of the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and the implementation of the 5 Point Consensus (5PC) in handling the crisis in Myanmar.
Indonesia, as Chair of ASEAN 2023, encourages the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its fellow ASEAN member countries to move forward together to increase cooperation and reduce tensions in the region, both in the Southeast Asian region and the wider region, including the Indo-Pacific.
President Jokowi invited members of ASEAN to work in synergy to ease the rising tension in the Indo-Pacific region. According to Jokowi, one way to reduce tension in the region was by implementing the AOIP. “Concrete and inclusive cooperation is essential to ease tension in the Indo-Pacific. We can use the AOIP as a concrete platform for cooperation with partner countries,” he remarked. Indo-Pacific is the world’s fastest-growing region that accounts for 65 percent of the global economy.
On Indonesia’s initiative, ASEAN launched the AOIP in 2019 to affirm the bloc’s stance in playing its role in maintaining peace, security, stability, and prosperity in the region. AOIP prioritizes the practices of open and inclusive dialogue and cooperation instead of competition and rivalry. To increase the spirit of cooperation in the region, during its 2023 ASEAN chairmanship, Indonesia will hold several main events under the ASEAN-Indo-Pacific forum as part of the efforts to implement the AOIP.
The events also include an infrastructure forum, youth dialogue and digital development supporting sustainable development (SDGs), a creative economy forum, and the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. Not only in the Indo-Pacific region, but Indonesia also encourages ASEAN to strive to reduce tensions within its own region, especially by helping Myanmar to resolve its political and humanitarian crises.
ASEAN has urged the junta to implement a Five-Point Consensus peace plan agreed in April 2021 that calls for a cessation of violence, dialogue with all stakeholders, and permitting the provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday (May 9) that the implementation progress of the 5PC had been discussed with the ASEAN Foreign Ministers ahead of the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo. Indonesia, as ASEAN Chair, chose to conduct ‘non-megaphone diplomacy’ in resolving the Myanmar issues. Marsudi added that measures were taken to provide space for all parties to build trust and open communication.
At the opening of the ASEAN Summit Retreat Session on Thursday, President Jokowi stated that Indonesia, as ASEAN Chair, continuously strives for progress in the implementation of the 5PC, and through engagements with various parties urges for an inclusive dialogue, calls for the cessation of violence, facilitates the conclusion of the Joint Needs Assessment through the AHA Centre to deliver humanitarian assistance.
However, Jokowi admitted there had been no significant progress from implementing the 5PC. “Therefore, ASEAN unity is required to decide on the next steps,” he said. Nevertheless, President Jokowi and Minister Marsudi have also emphasized that the lack of progress in implementing the 5 PC did not mean that ASEAN would give up on the situation in Myanmar.
In fact, it means that ASEAN must be more united to help fellow member countries, especially Myanmar to get out of the crisis, so that all ASEAN members “can move forward together and leave no one behind”. Furthermore, Jokowi emphasized that issues related to the current situation in Myanmar should not hinder efforts to accelerate the development of the ASEAN community.
During its chairmanship, Indonesia adopted the theme of “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” which reflects its will to make ASEAN important and relevant as the world’s center of growth. Indonesia is seeking to strengthen ASEAN’s capacity and institutional effectiveness in hopes of readying the bloc to face challenges in the next two decades.
The chair is also committed to escorting the Southeast Asian region towards ASEAN 2045 by making it more adaptive, responsive, and competitive through various measures that are in line with the principles found in the ASEAN Charter. In addition, Indonesia is willing to lead the ASEAN countries in efforts to strengthen economic recovery and make the region an engine of sustainable growth.
By Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Sri Haryati
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