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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs    13 July 2012

SBY, Merkel sign ‘Jakarta Declaration’ on host of bilateral issues


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and German Chancellor Angela Merkel endorsed the so-called "Jakarta Declaration" yesterday, which included numerous points on bilateral cooperation, including some in the defence sector.

The declaration, signed in Jakarta to mark the 60th anniversary of Indonesian-German diplomatic ties, was entitled the "Joint Declaration for a Comprehensive Partnership: Shaping Globalisation and Sharing Responsibility".

In a joint press conference, Yudhoyono acknowledged the importance of Merkel's visit.

"Chancellor Merkel's visit is very important to boosting partnership in the future," Yudhoyono told a joint press conference after meeting with Merkel at Presidential Palace.

"In the defence sector, our cooperation will not only be limited to the arms industry, but will also increase to the police sector," Yudhoyono said.

Merkel's visit came only days after the government announced that it would procure up to 100 refurbished Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks (MBT) worth US$280 million from Europe's largest economy.

The government had scrapped its plan to procure similar tanks from the Netherlands.

In the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review in Geneva in May, Germany was among the countries criticising the human rights situation in Papua, Indonesia's easternmost region where violence has continued for years.

"Indonesia has not properly modernised its weapon systems for 20 years, leaving us much behind our neighbours. But I assure all that the procurement will be transparent. I will never use tanks to shoot my own people," Yudhoyono said, commenting on the tank procurement.

Merkel, meanwhile, did not go into details on the tank issue. "[The President and I] did not discuss that specific issue," she said.

The inclusion of the defence cooperation in the declaration is a follow-up to the memorandum of understanding signed by the German and Indonesian defence ministers in February. The agreement includes cooperation on defence training, research and development, military logistics and peacekeeping missions.

According to the declaration, Indonesia and Germany have also agreed to strengthen police cooperation to address international security threats from terrorism, human trafficking, drug abuse and money laundering.

Activists and politicians have criticised the decision to buy the German tanks, saying such military vehicles would not be suitable for Indonesia's terrain.

"Procuring MBTs is not included in Indonesia's long-term defence posture, which was drawn up in 2007. This inconsistency is more proof of the mess of Indonesia's weapons procurement strategy," Al Araf of human rights NGO Imparsial said.

"Weapons procurement must be based on the real and objective needs of the Indonesian defence system, not just on political reasons," he added.

Merkel brought a delegation that included State Secretary for Economy and Technology Anne-Ruth Herkes, a number of German parliament members and German business representatives.

Before holding a meeting with Yudhoyono, Merkel had a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kalibata National Cemetery, in South Jakarta, as well as visiting the Immanuel Church and the Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Central Jakarta.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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