Through G20 presidency, Indonesia Ready to Manage Rivalry of World Powers
Retno explained that as chair of the G20, Indonesia would try to manage this rivalry by encouraging cooperation, which it deems absolutely essential if the world wants to get out of the pandemic and become stronger.
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JAKARTA, KOMPAS — Indonesia will use its status as chair of the Group of 20 (G20) starting 1 December to manage the rivalry of the great powers. Together with a number of other countries, Indonesia is also pushing for a new agreement on readiness to face pandemics in the future.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said the Covid-19 pandemic showed that the rivalry of global powers had not decreased. "[At a time] when we need strong cooperation, the rivalry is getting sharper," she said in a special interview with Kompas, Tuesday (23/11/2021), in Jakarta.
The rivalry had been hardened by the Cold War mentality. A number of parties, including United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have expressed concern about the impact of such a mentality on global cooperation. In addition to the United States-China rivalry, regional tensions have increased caused by disputes in the South China Sea, the China-Taiwan conflict, the emergence of the AUKUS military alliance, tensions on the Korean Peninsula and others.
Retno said that the rivalry was also felt in Southeast Asia. As the largest country in the region, Indonesia is responsible for helping manage regional stability and peace so that it is not affected by this rivalry. Indonesia will soon assume the status of chair of the G20 for the 2022 period, then ASEAN chair for the 2023 period.
"Indonesia's size carries a big responsibility that must be played, in how regional stability and security is maintained," said Retno.
The rivalry of great powers is visible among members of the G20, the organization of countries controlling 85 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). Members include the US, China, India, Russia, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and others, meaning it would be impossible to completely eliminate differences of opinion. "The most important thing is how to manage differences," said Retno.
Focus on G20
Retno explained that as chair of the G20, Indonesia would try to manage this rivalry by encouraging cooperation, which it deems absolutely essential if the world wants to get out of the pandemic and become stronger. It is one of the countries exploring opportunities to conclude an international agreement on pandemic preparedness.
Indonesia's focus on the proposed agreement is primarily to help developing and less developed countries deal with potential pandemics in the future. Covid-19 has shown that the international community is not ready to face pandemics, with developing and less developed countries less prepared.
One of its first tasks as G20 chair is encouraging the creation of new funding mechanisms to help developing and less developed countries in the event of another pandemic. "Indonesia's presidency is not only for the benefit of the G20, but also brings the voice of the developing [countries]," said Retno.
Bringing the voices of developing countries cannot be separated from Indonesia's historical status as the initiator of the 1955 Asian-African Conference (KAA) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). In addition to the entire community of developing and less developed countries, Indonesia also continues to focus on helping certain countries in need.
In Southeast Asia, for example, this is something Indonesia has been doing with Myanmar. Every time she meets her colleagues, foreign ministers from other countries, Retno always asks what they can do for the people of Myanmar. "For Indonesia, the welfare and security of the Myanmar people is number one," she said.
These principles continue to be implemented by Indonesia in its diplomatic steps. According to Retno, ASEAN's steps regarding Myanmar are based on the view that ASEAN is a family. In a family, it is necessary to take care of each other, help and remind each other. "Everywhere, I always bring the interests of the people of Myanmar," said Retno.
In the global scope, Indonesia continues to voice the importance of access to Covid-19 vaccines. Access is indeed now more open to all countries, but Indonesia is still pushing for countries to share their vaccine reserves and to reach equal distribution.
“The vaccine is a humanitarian issue,” said Retno, who is also one of the three cochairs of the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Engagement Group, an international alliance for vaccine procurement and distribution.
Equitable vaccination will benefit all countries. "It is impossible for a country to be safe on its own," she said.
The pandemic has meant borders either remain closed or are only partially opened. As long as the Covid-19 pandemic is not under control, restrictions on movement across countries will continue and this complicates the recovery. “Other countries may not be able to consume imported commodities and produce export commodities as long as their economies have not recovered. Recovery from the impact of the pandemic is in the interest of almost all countries, including Indonesia," said Retno.
For Indonesia, being the chair of the G20 is also part of efforts to achieve national interests. Retno ensured that Indonesia's maneuvers were not directed by one of the superpowers. Indonesia remains steadfast in its national interests by sticking to a free and active foreign policy.
Separately, coordinator of the G20 Research Team of the Political Research Center at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) Emilia Yustiningrum said that Indonesia's presidency of the G20 was important because Indonesia was a key player in Southeast Asia with global influence. The chairmanship of the G20 was Indonesia's strength to appear as a mediator in the midst of rivalry between the world's great powers. (DNE/LUK/RAZ/JOS/SAM)