JAKARTA, April 9 (The Straits Times/ANN): Officials from Indonesia have been meeting a wider range of stakeholders from Myanmar, and progress has been made in resolving the crisis there, said Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.
Speaking during a press briefing on Wednesday, Ms Retno said that these discussions were carried out in accordance with established peace plans and involved new stakeholders that have not been engaged before, although she did not reveal who they are.
Indonesia, as Asean chairman in 2023, has vowed to do its best to improve the situation in Myanmar, which has been in turmoil after the country’s military overthrew the democratically elected government in a coup in February 2021.
In April 2021, Asean drew up a five-point consensus (5PC) peace plan with Myanmar, but there has been little progress in restoring peace. Violence following the coup has killed thousands.
Ms Retno said that the priority for Indonesia and Asean is to implement the peace plan that Myanmar had agreed to, and she stressed the importance of the engagements that have been taking place.
She also revealed that Indonesia has held meetings for the first time with special envoys who have been involved in solving the crisis. They include those from the United Nations and Myanmar.
“Why is this being done? The ultimate goal is to promote coordination and synergy while continuing to strengthen Asean’s centrality,” she said. “From our engagement with them, it appears that support for Indonesia’s chairmanship, Asean centrality and the 5PC seems very strong.”
Asean centrality refers to the regional grouping’s ability to shape key decisions affecting South-east Asia, instead of leaving its fortunes determined by external parties.
Ms Retno also said that Indonesia updated the UN Security Council on the developments regarding Myanmar on March 13. “In the closed meeting of the UN Security Council, it was clear that there is strong support for Indonesia’s chairmanship, the centrality of Asean and the 5PC.”
She added that Indonesia has been working to ensure that the Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) can distribute aid to people in Myanmar, regardless of ethnic background, religion and political orientation.
The AHA Centre is an inter-governmental organisation which facilitates cooperation and coordination in the bloc, as well as other groups such as the UN, for emergency response.
Turning to other Asean matters, Ms Retno said that preparations for the upcoming 42nd Asean Summit in Labuan Bajo, in the eastern Indonesia region of Flores in May, are well under way.
She also said that Indonesia will organise a high-level forum titled the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), which will take place alongside the 43rd Asean summit in September.
The AOIP, an initiative led by Indonesia that was signed in 2019 by Asean leaders at the 34th Asean Summit, lays out the bloc’s common position on egional cooperation, security and prosperity, as well as its stance on not taking sides with any major powers competing for influence in the region. - The Straits Times/ANN