29 May 2014

SBY visit to Fiji seen through West Papua prism

7:31 pm on 29 May 2014

An academic specialising in Indonesian politics and history says the President's planned visit to Fiji next month can be seen through what he calls the West Papua prism.

Fiji has announced that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will visit Fiji next month for the second annual Pacific Islands Development Forum meeting in Nadi.

Dr Richard Chauvel of Melbourne's Victoria University says Indonesia is keen to forge closer ties with Pacific countries.

However he says Jakarta has stepped up its lobbying in the region since the Melanesian Spearhead Group began considering a membership application by West Papuans.

"The way the (MSG) Foreign Ministers visit (to West Papua) was hosted; you'll remember (PNG Prime Minister) O'Neill was in Jakarta when the MSG meeting was held. But clearly it has longer term strategic ambitions beyond its difficulties in West Papua."

Dr Richard Chauvel of Melbourne's Victoria University.