Ladies and Gentlemen,
I should like, first of all, to join my Colleagues in expressing our gratitude to His Excellency President Joseph Estrada for the guidance he has provided us through his illuminating inaugural address. On behalf of the Government and people of Indonesia, I also convey our warmest congratulations on his election as the thirteenth President of the Republic of the Philippines. To the Government and people of the Philippines, I wish to express my Delegation’s deep appreciation for the generous hospitality accorded to us and for the excellent arrangements for this Meeting.
May I also congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, on your election to preside over this Meeting. During the past year, you have guided the work of ASEAN with great skill and dedication. I am confident therefore that you will lead our present deliberations to a successful conclusion. I extend my sincere felicitations to His Excellency Professor S. Jayakumar, the distinguised Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, on his election as Vice Chairman. And it gives me great pleasure to welcome in our midst our esteemed Colleague from Papua New Guinea and the representative of Cambodia who are attending our Meeting as Observers. May I also take this opportunity to express our deepest commiseration with the Government and people of Papua New Guinea on the calamity that they suffered when tidal waves struck the northwest part of the country a few days ago. We wish them a speedy recovery from this devastation.
For more than two decades now, Southeast Asia has enjoyed relative peace and stability. Throughout that period, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia has served as a vital instrument for the promotion of peace, stability and cooperation in our region. We are therefore gratified that tomorrow we will sign the Second Protocol of the TAC which will enable non-Southeast Asian countries to accede to the Treaty. At a time when harmonious cooperation is acutely needed in our region, we should rightly encourage non-Southeast Asian countries to associate themselves with the Treaty through accession to its Second Protocol.
Another achievement of ASEAN in fostering peace and stability in the region is the SEANWFZ Treaty of 1995, which entered into force in March 1997. For the Treaty to be fully effective, it should have the full support of the nuclear-weapon states, manifested through their accession to the Treaty’s Protocol. I fervently hope that the ongoing consultations between ASEAN and the nuclear weapon states can be expedited so that it will lead to early agreement on language acceptable to all parties concerned and thus enable the nuclear weapon states to accede to the Protocol of the Treaty.
We are also heartened by the progress in the work of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which continues to promote greater mutual understanding and transparency in the region and to imbue its participants with the spirit of common commitment to regional peace and stability. Indonesia will be pleased to welcome the ARF’s newest participant, Mongolia.
Three years after the indefinite extension of the NPT and after the Second Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the Year 2000 NPT Review Conference, it is becoming clear to us non-nuclear weapon states/parties to the NPT that the Treaty has not brought about a more credible non-proliferation regime. We are also becoming less confident in the effectiveness of the strengthened commitment of the nuclear weapon states to the full implementation of the Treaty. The rejection by some nuclear-weapon states of a multilateral approach towards a step-by-step reduction of nuclear arsenals is contrary to their commitment to pursue the ultimate goal, the total elimination of nuclear weapons, as reflected in the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament adopted at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference on the NPT.
Further complicating the issues related to non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament is the recent spate of nuclear tests conducted in South Asia. We deeply regret this development. As a Party to the NPT and signatory to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Indonesia cannot condone Nuclear tests by any country at any time. Not only do such test violate the principles underlying the NPT and the CTBT, they could also trigger a nuclear arms race and destabilize the security environment of our region. Indonesia acknowledges the sovereign right of states to determine their own security and the means to ensure them, but we also firmly believe that such a policy can and should be implemented without recourse to nuclear to nuclear arms. It is undeniable, however, that for as long as untenable privileges are conferred on those who possess nuclear weapons, and as long as double standards and hypocrisy prevail, there will always be an incentive for non-nuclear states to fully implement both the letter and spirit of agreements relating to non-proliferation and disarmament. The ARF, which is committed to the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects, may provide a forum for dialogue on this issue its implications on the peace and security of our region.
In Cambodia, we are watching very closely the political process that will culminate in general elections a few days from now. It is essential for the credibility of this process that all politics have equal access to media and that it is free, fair and peaceful so that that it will lead to the creation of a stable government that can ensure lasting peace and stability for the Cambodia people. Indonesia hopes that we will be able to welcome Cambodia as a member of ASEAN this year. This would fulfill our shared vision of an ASEAN comprising all ten Southeast Asian countries.
With regard to the South China Sea, Indonesia continues to pursue the Workshop process that has served to promote confidence, dialogue and cooperation among the sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction claimants in the area. The Workshop process has been able to agree on sizable and still increasing body of practical, non- controversial cooperative projects that would turn potential conflict in the South China Sea into actual and mutually beneficial cooperation. We hope that the South China Sea states will soon extend their tangible support and contribution to these projects since they not only build mutual confidence but are moreover necessary for the sustainable development of the area. Indonesia also believes it is important for the South China Sea countries, especially those that have ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, to exchange views on how they are going to implement the provisions of the Convention. Such a dialogue will enhance mutual understanding and forestall misapprehensions.
If the general stability our region has been shaken in recent times, it is not due to any political development but rather to a monetary and financial crisis that erupted at about this time last year and has, since then, led to widespread economic and social turmoil. The crisis broke out not because of weak economic fundamentals but because of, among others, a drastic slowdown in international trade, particularly in the principle exports of our region, excessive and unhedged private sector borrowings and shortcomings of the banking sector. As one of the affected countries, Indonesia has carried out far-reaching economic and financial reforms in order to stem the tide of these adversities, soften their impact on the vulnerable segments of the population and restore confidence.
In spite of the severity of the crisis, I am confident that the ASEAN economies will recover soon enough as the fundamentals that enabled them to achieve high growth in the past are still generally in place. After reforms are implemented and confidence is restored, ASEAN will emerge leaner, stronger, more open and more competitive. It is indeed encouraging to note that in response to the crisis, ASEAN countries have shown their solidarity by providing assistance to one another. In this connection, the Government of Indonesia wishes to express once again its deepest appreciation to the ASEAN and other Governments as well as international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for their invaluable assistance in this difficult time. We urge these institutions to work expeditiously with the international community in developing arrangements for the management and surveilance of currency trading that will ensure greater transparency and openness. We also trust that future recovery programmes drawn up in cooperation with these institutions will fully take into account the social and political impact of these programmes so as to lessen the human cost of economic recovery.
In the light of the adverse economic and financial situation of Southeast Asia, the role of our Dialogue Partners in the promotion of development in the region has become even more essential. It is imperative therefore that we strengthen our cooperation with our traditional Dialogue Partners and with other regional groupings such as the European Union. It is also important that we expand our relationship with groupings that have considerable potential as trading partners, such as the SAARC, the SADC and the GCC.
The ASEAN Leaders, during their Fifth Summit in Bangkok in 1995, decided to elevate functional cooperation to a higher plane. Since then, functional cooperation has served not only to promote ASEAN unity and solidarity but also to integrate ASEAN’s political and economic goals with its social, cultural, scientific-technological and environmental objectives. A major initiative in the pursuit of functional cooperation has been the establishment Of the ASEAN Foundation. I am pleased to inform this Meeting that the Foundation was inaugurated on 14 July 1998 after members of its Board of Trustees signed its Statutes on 13 July 1998 in Jakarta. In the years to come, we can expect the Foundation to serve as an effective instrument for the promotion of greater awareness of ASEAN, closer interaction among the ASEAN peoples as well as their wider participation in ASEAN activities, inter alia trough human resources development. Moreover, the Foundation will have a vital role to play in our endeavours to soften the social impact of the ongoing financial and economic crisis in our region and to alleviate poverty.
Six months from now, the Leaders of ASEAN will convene their Sixth Summit in Hanoi. We must therefore exert our best efforts in this Meeting to prepare for this highest-level forum of our Association so that, through the projected “Hanoi Plan Of Action to Implement ASEAN Vision 2020″ and the provisions of the projected “Hanoi Declaration”, the Summit will lead to the intensification of ASEAN cooperation in all spheres and at all levels.
For the only way out of the crisis we are in is not by retreating nor by passive waiting but by advancing steadfastly toward our goals of economic integration, lasting stability and security and the achievement of an ASEAN community of technologically competent, cohesive and caring societies. If we have faith in our shared vision, if we use our resources with foresight and wisdom and help one another in an unrelenting pursuit of development, we will not only survive, we will not merely recover we will, as we have done during the early years of our Association, triumph over our adversities and resume our steady march towards stable peace and sustained progress.