Indonesia has to be key player in Indo-Pacific: researcher

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has to be the key player in Indo-Pacific region, a researcher from Perth US Asia Centre, Australia, Natalie Sambhi said.

"In the past several years Indonesia has gained in popularity under President Joko Widodo (Jokowi)," Natalie said addressing the Jakarta Geopolitical Forum 2018 here on Wednesday.

A PhD candidate in Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, Natalie said she was confident Indonesia could strengthen its role and contribution to regional security with the potentials it has.

She said Indonesia is an innovator having a lot of opportunities with potential demographic bonus.

The country is in a position to bridge the gap between big powers such as between the United States and China, she said.

"Southeast Asia could be an alternative center amid the monopoly by the United States and China. There is an argument that Europe would emerge as an independent pole in the bipolarity, but it is possible Southeast Asia under Indonesia could create other possibility," she said.

The Indonesian identity as a "defender of the global south" describes its leadership ambition, she said.

When territorial initiative is getting complex in the digital era, the Indonesian leadership is more important to stop countries in this region from being drawn into Chinese or U.S. blocks, she said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the concept offered by Indonesia is that Indo-Pacific is open, transparent and inclusive.

Addressing the same forum, Retno said Indonesian concept about Indo-Pacific promises a mutually beneficial geopolitical situation giving more importance to collaboration for mutual interest including creation of new growth centers.

Strengthening cooperation in Indo-Pacific region is a strategic issue for Indonesia and ASEAN a region lying at the confluence of two big oceans the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Indonesia will direct the Indo-Pacific concept to promote cooperation in the maritime, connectivity and in agenda of sustainable development, Retno said.

The Indo-Pacific Concept offered by Indonesia is aimed at linking the Pacific region, which already has good infrastructure and cooperation with the Indian ocean region, which is still in the early process of developing regional cooperation through the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

Connection between the two regions is expected to create new growth centers in the IORA member countries with ASEAN in the center.

Indonesia hopes that Indo-Pacific region could become one of the main sources of economic growth, trade center and industrial center.

Earlier at the 8th Ministerial meeting of East Asia Summit (EAS) at the Singapore Expo Retno said," Not to create a new mechanism or replace an existing one, but to enhance cooperation using the existing mechanisms."

The Indonesian Foreign Minister added that the current geopolitical conditions of the world posed challenges to peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Countries along the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean (Indo-Pacific region) are considered as potential to become new objects of attraction of the constellation of world power.

For Indonesia, this condition may affect the ASEAN`s central role and relevance as an area that is the axis of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

For this reason, Indonesia considers it important for ASEAN to keep maintaining its central role and making the Indo-Pacific region as an open, transparent, inclusive and respectful to international law and cooperative area by using the EAS mechanism as the main platform.

Reporting by Yashinta Difa Pramudyani
Editing by A Saragih