PNG govt committed to Indonesia relationship
Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister says his government has an excellent relationship with Jakarta but doesn't want to do anything to displace the trust that Indonesia has placed in it, such as discussing West Papuan self-determination.
Papua New Guinea's Foreign Minister says his government doesn't want to do anything to displace the trust that Indonesia has placed in it, such as discussing West Papuan self-determination.
The comment from Rimbink Pato comes as Indonesia's Co-ordinating Minister for Political Affairs, Law and Security, Luhut Binsar Padjaitan this week visits PNG as part of his Pacific tour which also includes a visit to Fiji.
Indonesian media have described the ministerial visit as being about suppressing regional support for West Papuan independence, however Mr Pato told Johnny Blades that he disagrees with this.
RIMBINK PATO: Papua New Guinea's position is and has always been that the province of Irian Jaya (the old name of Papua region) is an integral part of the sovereign nation of Indonesia. So we're not interested in entertaining the issue of self-determination, because that's never an issue for us, and that's never a concern for us. And we've made it very, very clear, it's in the heart of our bilateral relationship with Indonesia, and of course the issue of human rights in West Papua and Papua provinces and some of the other Melanesian provinces of Indonesia, it's a matter in respect of which the Pacific Island leaders Forum here in Port Moresby passed a resolution, of course our prime minister has written to President Widodo and informed him of the resolution of the Pacific Island leaders; and there will probably be a response to it. But that is not an issue that has to do with any call for self-determination.
JOHNNY BLADES: But sometimes it's a problem for Papua New Guinea because you're right next door: whether it be the forest fires happening down near Merauke which are out of control, or the (Indonesian) military amassments around the border, this must be a concern to your communities?
RP: Well... for example there were a couple fo recent incidents along the border but we were able to work very closely with the Indonesian government and bring those issues to a resolution. And, as I said, PNG's become a very close friend of Indonesia, and Indonesia trusts our country, so there is nothing that we would like to do which would displace the trust of the Indonesian people and the government of Indonesia in our people. But of course the issue of human rights and some of those... those are things, prosperity, benefits, security for the border region, human rights which is a global issue, where it arises, these are issues that we can work together to address.
JB: It's one big island, isn't it, which both countries share. Do you feel that there should be more work together to preserve the forests from rampant deforestation?
RP: We're always happy to work together. And Indonesia is willing to work with Papua New Guinea. These are issues that are open for discussion. Where our support is required, or their support is required, we will work together.
JB: But what do you mean is actually being done about the forest fires, for instance?
RP: As to what can be done will depend on what kind of advice we receive from our technocrats. If there is advice, I mean I wouldn't be going by a question from the media, saying look this is what's happening, what do you do and then pop out an answer which may or may not work. But we need to make sure that... we have a long term relationship, we have a framework of different agreements which cover different aspects of the relationship, including the different investments, trade, cultural exchange, security and prosperity benefits, these issues. So, look, if there's an issue, if our technical people advise that this is the position our country should take, then of course at the political level, in consultation with the Indonesian government or ourselves or with multi-lateral partners, we will take up the issue and deal with it.
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