By Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi
Editor’s note: This is an unedited English translation of the press briefing that the Indonesian foreign minister delivered on 24 February 2021. Both the original press briefing and the translation were released by the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The unedited translation is published here not only to convey the substance of the Indonesian position but also to demonstrate the constraints in language that every practitioner of diplomacy must live with when addressing a crisis situation such as that of Myanmar today.
My small group of delegation and I have just returned from a short trip to Bangkok, Thailand. This is part of Indonesia’s shuttle diplomacy to discuss and contribute to seeking the best possible solution to address the recent situation in Myanmar.
This is not the first time that Indonesia undertakes shuttle diplomacy.
Indonesia was also the first country to carry out shuttle diplomacy when the Rohingya issue unfolded.
Indonesia always engages, communicates and consults will all parties with a view to contribute in addressing the situation at hand.
Last week, I visited Brunei Darussalam and Singapore.
Prior to that, Indonesia also discussed the issue of Myanmar at length with Malaysia during the Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia.
In the past few days, I have conducted intense consultation with:
• Firstly, the Chair of ASEAN;
• The Foreign Ministers of the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia;
• The Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General; and
• This morning I spoke with US’ Acting Assistant Under Secretary;
• Tomorrow, I plan to communicate again with UK’s Secretary of State and the UN Secretary General;
• And I will also be having talks with Australia’s former Prime Minister, who is now President of the Global Leadership Forum and the Asia Society.
Previously, I have communicated with the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan, US, China, UK and India.
Dear colleagues, of course shuttle diplomacy is not easy to undertake during the pandemic.
However, it is necessary for Indonesia to do so as there are principles to be upheld and a strong desire to continue contributing to peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Indonesia chooses not to stand still. To do nothing is not an option. Dear colleagues,
During the short trip to Bangkok, I had a bilateral meeting with the Foreign Minister of Thailand to discuss several bilateral issues, including the preparation for our Joint Commission Meeting this year that coincides with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
In the meeting with Minister Don, we also discussed developments in Myanmar, including the preparation for the proposed ASEAN meeting.
Thailand has a unique position as it shares 2400 km of land border with Myanmar and hosts around 2 million Myanmar people who live in Thailand.
During the meeting, I reaffirmed Indonesia’s consistent position that underlines:
• The safety and well-being of the people of Myanmar;
• The importance of restoring an inclusive democratic transition; and
• The importance of respecting the ASEAN Charter.
We also discussed the proposed ASEAN meeting. Thailand has agreed to this proposal.
So far, ASEAN countries have conveyed their commitment to support an ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting.
An onward trip to Naypyitaw was planned following my visit to Bangkok in order to directly convey the message and position of Indonesia and the international community as well as the hope to find a solution.
However, the visit had to be postponed.
This delay does not lessen our intention to communicate with all parties in Myanmar I repeat with all parties in Myanmar including the military and the CRPH (Committee of Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw).
Communication with the CRPH is held intensively.
Meanwhile, communication and a short meeting with U Wunna Maung Lwin was held in Bangkok today.
I can convey that during my meeting with the Foreign Minister of Thailand, I received information that U Wunna Maung Lwin was also in Bangkok.
The meeting with U Wunna was finally carried out in Don Mueang Airport, during which the Foreign Minister of Thailand was also present.
In my meeting with U Wunna, I conveyed Indonesia’s consistent position:
• Indonesia is concerned with the recent development in Myanmar;
• The safety and well-being of the people is the number one priority;
• Therefore, we ask all parties to exercise self-restraint and to refrain from violence to avoid any casualties and bloodshed.
• Indonesia continues to emphasize the importance of an inclusive democratic transition process;
• Therefore, condition conducive is required, among others through dialogue, reconciliation, and trust building; and
• Indonesia will always stand with the people of Myanmar.
Indonesia also conveyed these principles in our communication with the CRPH.
As I have mentioned earlier that even in difficult situations, communication with all parties must continue
• to convey messages;
• to contribute in preventing the worsening of situation and to take steps in addressing the issue at hand.
Therefore, all communications must be held in the framework of contributing towards finding a solution for the interest of the people of Myanmar.
The safety and the well-being of the people of Myanmar must be the number one priority to safeguard.
The wishes of the people of Myanmar must be heard.
In addition, in my meeting with U Wunna I also conveyed:
• the importance for all ASEAN countries to honor the principles stipulated in the ASEAN Charter. This message is continuously conveyed loud and clear…
• the importance of providing humanitarian access and visits to all detainees.
That is the message that I conveyed to U Wunna.
Finally, once again I would like to convey that Indonesia will continue its communication with all parties to contribute in addressing the situation in Myanmar.