Natuna Islands rightfully belong to Indonesia: TNI chief

"The Indonesian territory cannot be negotiated. (It is either the) Unitary State or death," Gatot Nurmantyo stated.
Purwokerto, C Java (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo has reiterated that the Natuna Islands rightfully belong to Indonesia.

"The Indonesian territory cannot be negotiated. (It is either the) Unitary State or death," Gatot Nurmantyo declared here on Monday.

He said the military will build several military bases in the Natuna Islands to safeguard the countrys sovereignty.

"We are building military bases in the Natuna Islands," he emphasized, adding that these bases would be ready in three years time.

The outermost islands of the Natuna archipelago were made the baseline of the Indonesian territory as stipulated in the 1957 Juanda Declaration.

Moreover, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982, the baseline was registered with the UN in 2009.

Commission I Chairman Mahfud Siddiq had earlier said a military base on the island of Natuna was of key importance as part of the defense system in the central region of the country, which shares its maritime borders with several nations.

"Developing a military base on Natuna Island is important for the defense system in the central region of Indonesia, which shares its borders with many countries in the South China Sea," Siddiq stated.

Siddiq noted that such a base in Natuna will reinforce Indonesia's existing regional defense system in the eastern and western parts of the country. This will help improve the military's mobility.

The lawmaker remarked that the plan to develop a military base in Natuna has been around since 2015.

"Commission I had once discussed the plan, including its budget," Siddiq pointed out.

This is a strategic defense development plan as Natuna lies in the frontier region of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. It is close to the area in South China Sea where several countries have overlapping claims.

Siddiq, a politician of the Prosperous Justice Party, affirmed that the government will require some Rp1.3 trillion worth of funds to develop a military base on the island. An earlier estimate had pegged it at Rp400 billion.

"It was earlier planned to be completed in 2017, and funds were to come from the 2015 revised state budget and the 2016 state budget," he added.(*)

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