Joint media interaction of Krishna, Natalegawa (Transcript)
New Delhi, July 28 : Transcript of the Joint Media Interaction of External Affairs Minister of India and Foreign Minister of Indonesia on July 27:
Official Spokesperson (Shri Syed Akbaruddin): Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media. I welcome you to this interaction.
As is usual, we will begin with brief opening remarks by the two Ministers. I will now request the External Affairs Minister of India to make his opening remarks.
External Affairs Minister of India (Shri S.M. Krishna): Your Excellency Dr. Marty Natalegawa, Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, friends from media:
Today Foreign Minister Dr. Marty and I co-chaired the fourth meeting of the India-Indonesia Joint Commission. Prior to the Joint Commission Meeting, Foreign Minister Dr. Marty and I had very useful discussions on the current status of our bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues.
The Joint Commission meeting today enabled us to review the progress made on various areas of cooperation agreed during its last meeting and also those identified during the State visit of President Yudhoyono to India in January 2011. We have also identified specific areas in which both countries would be working together to take the relationship to the next high level. The deliberations took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere reflecting the state of our bilateral relationship.
India and Indonesia enjoy an excellent relationship which rests on the solid foundation of our historical and cultural linkages. We have much in common as two developing countries facing quite similar challenges.
We became strategic partners in 2005. Indonesia is an important partner for us in our pursuit of 'Look East policy'. Our trade has expanded rapidly and has now touched 20 billion US Dollars. We are confident of achieving the target of 25 billion US dollars by 2015. Indian investment in Indonesia is rising. We are also cooperating in several other sectors including energy, oil and gas, coal, marine and fisheries, agriculture, science and technology, education, culture, defence and counterterrorism.
As large pluralistic democracies we have a stake in each other's progress and prosperity. We would like our relationship to be reflective of the strategic nature of our partnership. Dr. Marty and I have agreed to work towards this objective.
I have conveyed to Foreign Minister Dr. Marty that we look forward to the visit of his Excellency Mr. Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia to India in December this year for the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit.
Official Spokesperson: I would now request the Foreign Minister of Indonesia to make his opening remarks.
Foreign Minister of Indonesia (Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa): Thank you very much. Once again on behalf of all my delegation and before distinguished members of the media I would like to put on record how delighted we are, how pleased we are, and how thankful we are that today we have been able to have this fourth meeting of the Joint Commission between India and Indonesia.
Excellency the Minister has described how I will describe the state of Indonesia-India relations. They are robust, they are strong, they are very friendly and very positive as well. But most of all, during the discussion that we have had throughout this morning and just now, we resolved, we reiterated to really translate and reflect the fact that our two countries now, ever since 2005, have announced that we have a strategic relationship between our two countries.
Just now during the course of our discussion within the Joint Commission, we reviewed where we are in our bilateral relations, trade and investment, people-to-people relations, education, research and development, food security, energy security and many other areas, to ensure that we are where we should be in terms of our bilateral relations. I must say that having gone through that exercise both ourselves and before hand our senior officials, it is quite fair to say that we are on track to further deliver strengthening of bilateral relations.
This is going to be another special year in India-Indonesia relations coming from the special one that we had last year when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was of course in India last January 2011. This year, as the Minister has said, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will once again be in India on the occasion of the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit reflecting once again how strong and how solid our bilateral relations are.
What I would like to further add to what the Minister has said is what we have discussed throughout, it is quite clear that the importance of our relations is not only bilateral but because of its impact on the region and indeed beyond. India and Indonesia have enjoyed close relations practically ever since our Independence, even before our respective independence. That is how far our relations go back. Yet, in the decades every since, whatever international issues that we face - whether it be colonial ...(Inaudible)..., whether it be development challenges - India and Indonesia are always speaking with one voice.
As India prospers, as India develops, as also Indonesia prospers and develops, we find ourselves now not only fellow members of important organizations and forums such as the Non-Aligned Movement, the United Nations, but also the G20 group of nations. So, this is evidence of how our all respective national developments be made stronger through bilateral cooperation, is finding its expressions and many other forums regionally and globally.
I am so delighted that today we are able to inject further momentum in the promotion of our bilateral relations. Of course, Indonesia will have the honour of hosting the next Joint Commission between Indonesia and India, and I look forward to working closely with my colleague to find when is the most appropriate time for that to take place.
Until then, we resolved just now to have a regular and more systematic way of measuring progress in our two countries' relations, some kind of a scorecard where we can regularly in a very clear way identify progress and even not least identify where challenges remain so we can address those challenges and allow our relations to fully blossom and develop.
Thank you once again, Excellency, for your hospitality for your delegation's cooperation on behalf of all my delegates who are here in Delhi.
Thank you very much.
Official Spokesperson: The two Ministers have agreed to take a couple of questions.
Question (Ms Parul Chandra, The Asian Age): My question is for both the Ministers. First to the Indonesian Foreign Minister. There is growing assertiveness by China in the South China Sea. Do you think that ASEAN can play any role in checking this growing assertiveness given that its member countries themselves are divided on the issue?
And to Mr. Krishna, there is a lot of ...(Unclear)... among Southeast Asian nations again on the South China Sea, particularly because China has been needling many countries including India. Your comments on that.
Foreign Minister of Indonesia: Thank you very much for that question. If I may just a little bit broaden the nature of the issue beyond the South China Sea, it is a fact of life, a fact of the region, that we have countries in the region that are rising, that are emerging - your China, your India, ASEAN itself, and others. So, change and dynamism is inherent. It is a fact of life and it is something that we must not fight over or try to deny.
What we need and what we have been doing over the years through an ASEAN led, ASEAN centrality architecture-building, is to ensure that such dynamics and such developments materialize in a manner that is at the same time conducive to the region's peace and stability. In other words there is absolutely nothing inevitable about some kind of a return to cold war type of divisions for our region. So, I think that is the kind of mindset that we are approaching the entire regional architecture situation in our neighbourhood.
It is possible to have common security, common stability, and common prosperity, a win-win type of outlook. Within that context of course we have the specific challenge of the South China Sea. This is again a fact of life. It is a fact that there are countries in the region, some in ASEAN and some outside ASEAN, that have conflicting issues and jurisdictional claims on the South China Sea. Yet, even on this very difficult issue we have actually a diplomatic track to resolve them, to manage it. We have the ASEAN-China track to address the issues, and we have made actually significant progress over the recent years. Last year, after some eight years of negotiations, we have concluded the so-called guidelines to the declaration of conduct. Now we are very much intensively involved in the formulation of what is called the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.
Yes, the last ASEAN Foreign Ministers' meeting was especially difficult because we were not able to come to a consensus on how to describe certain developments that have recently taken place. But that notwithstanding, insofar as the approach is concerned we remain one, viz., we need to quickly get the Code of Conduct legalised. As you may be aware, over the past week or so Indonesia has been engaged in an intensive round of diplomatic efforts to regroup ASEAN to ensure that we are back to where we should be and that we are now in a position to once again press on for the legalization of the Code of Conduct.
If anything, the most recent episodes simply provide a reminder that we do actually need a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, some kind of a rule of the road type of regime so that the potential for conflict in the region can be managed, and better still the potential for conflict can be resolved and that the countries of the region can continue to enjoy and continue to enjoy the peace dividend that all of us have enjoyed for many decades now, thanks to the Asia-Pacific's benign environment that allows all of us to concentrate on economic development rather than any other lesser pursuits.
External Affairs Minister: India has made its position very clear on South China Sea on several occasions in the recent past. We did discuss the South China Sea issue and we have been following developments in respect of South China Sea. India supports freedom of navigation and access to resources in accordance with principles of international law. It is our earnest desire that these principles should be respected by all. We urge the parties concerned to engage in discussions to address this issue and hope that progress would be made on this important matter with respect to implementation of guidelines to the 2002 declaration of the Code of Conduct on South China Sea.
Question (Ms Devirupa Mitra): This question is for Mr. Krishna. Sir, the Government of India has been repeatedly asking Colombo for the release of the 23 Indian fishermen. But five days later, there is still no sign of their coming back. Can you give any assurance that they will be returning to India soon?
External Affairs Minister: I am happy to inform you that the 23 Indian fishermen have been released a short while back. I thank the Sri Lankan Government for this humanitarian gesture. I have instructed our High Commissioner in Colombo to make all necessary arrangements for the fishermen to be brought back to India and to their respective places.
Official Spokesperson: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. We come to the end of this interaction.