Subject: Jakarta Backs Away From Australia Security Deal [+Transcript]

also: Transcript/Australia: Senate inquiry called into security pact with Jakarta; WSJ: Australia Is Set For Tense Talks With Indonesia

Australian Broadcasting Corporation June 22, 2006

Indonesia backs away from Australia security deal

Indonesia's Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono says he and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are not happy with the draft of a new security agreement under discussion between Indonesia and Australia.

Along with delivering asylum law changes, signing off on a new security cooperation pact was one of the things next Monday's meeting between Prime Minister John Howard and Dr Yudhoyono had hoped to achieve.

With the migration law changes on hold for now, it is unclear just what the two leaders will agree upon when they meet on the Indonesian island of Batam.

Mr Sudarsono is backing away from increasing military co-operation with Australia.

"The terms and conditions of the security agreement, or security cooperation, must be reviewed," he said.

"Our defence community here, including the chief Minister for Security, and I'm not sure the President himself is so keen on signing the agreement.

"From what I hear from the Foreign Ministry, there is too much emphasis on the military aspect and we're not keen on any agreement that would be seen as a form of bilateral defence treaty, so I would go through the wording first and see what happens."

Military report

The diplomatic unrest comes as a report released yesterday by Human Rights Watch gives a damning assessment of the Indonesian Government's efforts to reform its military.

Less than half of the Indonesian military's budget comes from the Government.

The rest is funded by private businesses run by the military, which Human Rights Watch says promotes a culture of widespread human rights abuses in the name of making money.

In September of 2004, an Indonesian lawmaker declared that the Indonesian military must end its involvement in business and ordered the Government to take over the military's 1,500 businesses by 2009.

Mr Sudarsono now says that is not going to happen.

Human Rights Watch's Asia director Brad Adams is particularly critical of what the Australian and US Governments have done about it, which is to re-establish military cooperation with Indonesia.

"The Indonesian military is having huge internal debates and it's absolutely essential that the leverage that countries like Australia and the United States have be used, not be squandered," Mr Adams said.

"They've essentially disarmed themselves in being able to pressure the Indonesian military to do anything.

"The idea that they're suddenly going to become great friends and the Indonesian military is going to willingly reform itself, without the pressure of countries from outside, is really not serious."

Troop welfare

Mr Sudarsono says the Indonesian military will lose control of only six military businesses, which have assets of more than $34,000 each.

He says the rest exist to look after the welfare of low-paid troops.

"That is health care, education, scholarships, and in some areas there are some cooperatives dealing with basic amenities required by low-income soldiers," he said.

Mr Adam says the argument is ridiculous.

"They're running businesses all over the place trying to survive but also in many cases making a lot of money, pushing people of their land, doing illegal logging," Mr Adams said.

"He [Mr Sudarsono] is not talking about the illegal logging and the land confiscations for things like palm oil plantations. He's talking about the hotels and the businesses in Jakarta.

"He admits it [the existence of illegal businesses]. In fact he is probably the most forthcoming minister in the history of the country on this subject. What he's saying is, 'I can't do anything about it', and we don't accept that.

"If the Minister of Defence can't do anything about it, then there is something very fundamentally wrong with the Government."


Radio Australia June 22, 2006 -transcript-

Australia: Senate inquiry called into security pact with Jakarta

As Australia puts the final touches toits controversial new security pact with Indonesia, concerns about the details of that agreement are being raised both at home and in Jakarta

Canberra's proposed security pact includes recognition of each nation's respect for the other's territorial sovereignty. Many in Australia say that means endorsing Jakarta's military control over provinces like Papua, where there is a strong separatist movement. The Australian Greens Party leader, Bob Brown is now calling for a Senate inquiry into the treaty.

Presenter/Interviewer: Zulfikar Abbany

Speakers: Australian Greens Party leader Bob Brown; Australia's Federal opposition leader Kim Beazley; Indonesian Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono; Scott Burchill, Indonesian expert Australia's Deakin University

ABBANY: The Greens Party Leader Bob Brown says the Australian public is disquiet about the proposed security pact with Indonesia.

And in particular about the inclusion of a clause to have Australia endorse Jakarta's military control over the province of Papua.

So, Senator Brown has called for a Senate inquiry to force the government of Australian Prime Minister John Howard to consult parliament.

BROWN: If the government is determined to persue this form of treaty, then it should seek the advise of the parliament and it should seek the advice of the Australian people and the best way to do that is through the treaties committee and that's had a long-standing input into such affairs, particularly in view of the fact that the last security treaty between Indonesia and Australia failed.

ABBANY: But with Mr Howard's talks with the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, scheduled for next Monday, it could be too late.

The Labor Party has, however, also flagged its own reservations about the treaty.

Labor Leader, Kim Beazley, has suggested that the government is buckling under Indonesian pressure.

BEAZLEY: He should have the courage to explain to the Indonesian President that our laws are our business and our laws are good.

ABBANY: The backdrop to all of this is the separatist movement in the Indonesian province of Papua.

Relations between Indonesia and Australia have been strained since Australia granted temporary protection visas to a group of Papuans earlier this year.

But the pact also comes at a time when the Australian government is pushing for new immigration laws that would have all asylum seekers arriving in the country processed off-shore.

Senator Bob Brown:

BROWN: Let's be clear, this is aimed at Papuans, who want to approach the north coast of Australia transferred to Nauru, a third country, where they don't have access to Australian law, and it's that very fact that's upset members of the government, so that the Prime Minister has failed to get agreement and has failed to get legislation through, in the run to his meeting with President Yudhoyono.

ABBANY: Some experts believe that Indonesia feels the country could break up at any moment, given the strong separatist movement in Papua.

And they say that Indonesia feels that the only way to deal with this is for the military to intervene.

But, as Scott Burchill, Indonesian expert from Australia's Deakin University, says the Indonesian military is the very problem.

BURCHILL: The impetus behind the separatist movements in Aceh and Papua for example are very much a product of military repression and human rights abuses conducted by the Indonesian military, so it's in fact the opposite of that argument. If the people in Papua had been treated more humanly, been given a greater share of the wealth of the province, the movement for separatism would have been much weaker.

ABBANY: The irony is that the proposed security pact has also met with opposition in Indonesia itself.

And that at the highest levels.

Indonesian Defence Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, says the pact needs further review.

SUDARSONO: There is too much emphasis on the military aspect and we're not keen on any agreement that would be seen as a formal bilateral defence treaty.

ABBANY: The last time Australia and Indonesia observed a security agreement was back in 1999.

But it failed after Australia supported East Timor's moves towards independence in September of that year, and Indonesia tore up the pact.

The International Relations expert, Scott Burchill, says the experience has made both countries doubtful that a new deal could have any success.

BURCHILL: Agreements of these kinds are not seen to be terribly important. What is crucial is behaviour and I think what the Indonesian defence minister is probably alluding to is the fact that Australia could abrogate the treaty at some point in the future just as the Indonesians did with the Keating-Suharto agreement in 1999.

ABBANY: Mr Burchill says Australia's aim is to instigate such agreements to counter terrorism, drug smuggling or people smuggling.

But a deal could favour Indonesia.

Senator Brown is concerned that a security pact will represent an Indonesian intervention in Australian politics to ensure there's no repeat of 1999.

BROWN: I have no doubt that the Australian people will think that this is again Jakarta calling the shots as far as Australian policy is concerned. I don't think the government does, I think the government believes that it should do all it can to appease the feeling by the government of Indonesia that Australia should have nothing to say about Papua.

ABBANY: But with parliament rising, a Senate inquiry may have to wait eight weeks.


The Wall Street Journal

Friday, June 23, 2006

Australia Is Set For Tense Talks With Indonesia


CANBERRA, Australia -- Keen to ease diplomatic tensions with Australia's nearest neighbor, Prime Minister John Howard flies to Indonesia this weekend for what could be a tense meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Mr. Howard's talks Monday with Mr. Yudhoyono on the island of Batam could be uneasy, analysts say, with his trip later in the week to China offering a better opportunity to promote Australia's preferred regional profile as a reliable trade partner.

Energy will be a key agenda item for Mr. Howard in the southern Chinese port city of Shenzhen, where he meets Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. But the chance of some tough negotiating sessions also looms if Beijing presses for special deals for liquefied natural gas.

Mr. Howard's first round of international talks will start on a rocky footing after he failed to heal a split in his government's ranks over legislation designed to placate Jakarta. Indonesia remains angry over Australia's response to the arrival of a boatload of West Papuan asylum seekers in January.

Australia's Immigration Department granted visas to 42 of the 43 asylum seekers, a move Jakarta interpreted as an endorsement of Papua's separatist movement. Indonesia recalled its ambassador in March and demanded Australia revoke the visas, a request Mr. Howard denied.

While seeking to soothe Indonesia's concerns about Australian interference in local politics, Mr. Howard plans to discuss the release of Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Baasyir, who was freed from an Indonesian prison last week after serving a 26-month sentence for his involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Also on the agenda is a security agreement between Australia and Indonesia to replace one Jakarta tore up in 1999 after Australia intervened in East Timor.

Mr. Howard's China visit will focus on cementing the strong trade ties between the two nations. Australia and China are trying to hammer out a comprehensive free-trade agreement that will cover agriculture, goods, services and investment.

In China's Guangdong province, Mr. Howard will visit the Dapeng terminal to mark the start of liquefied-natural-gas shipments from Australia to China.

Under Australia's biggest-ever export deal, struck in 2002, the North West Shelf project off the coast of Western Australia state will supply 3.3 million metric tons a year of LNG for 25 years to Cnooc Ltd.'s terminal. The first shipment in the 25 billion Australian dollar (US$18.5 billion) project arrived last month, with the second due in late June.

------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

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