Jakarta wants military deals to add value


December 15, 2015 11:30 pm JST
Indonesia defense

ERWIDA MAULIA, Nikkei staff writer

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will push technology transfers in military procurement during her upcoming talks in Tokyo.

JAKARTA — Indonesia no longer wants to just buy military hardware from other countries, and expects technology transfer and sustainability to be a condition of future deals.

Any military procurement must “give added value to Indonesia”, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told the Nikkei Asian Review in Jakarta on Tuesday. Adding value means augmenting both Indonesian military capacity and technology.

“If possible, we have to enable joint production in the future so that Indonesia will not continue to depend on other countries,” said Marsudi. She said future military deals will only be with partners who embrace this approach.

“If you agree with these principles, let’s do this together,” said Marsudi. “If not, forget it. Our policy is to empower our own strategic industries. We already have some — they are very productive and have started exporting.”

The minister was speaking a day ahead of a trip to Tokyo for Indonesia and Japan’s first ‘2+2’ talks, which also involve Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu and their Japanese counterparts.

Earlier this month, Indonesia inked an agreement with South Korea for state-owned aircraft manufacturer Dirgantara Indonesia and Korea Aerospace Industries to jointly develop experimental jet fighters. Technology transfer was also key to a purchase agreement for three submarines from South Korea last year.

Concerning regional security issues, Marsudi said Indonesia remains neutral amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, and reminded that its extended archipelago has no overlapping territorial claims with China. Indonesia, the minister said, wants its disputant neighbors to agree on a code of conduct to regulate their behavior in this “strategic” region.

On terrorism in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, Marsudi said Indonesia continues to participate in the global war on terror. Having dealt with several terrorism incidents post 9-11 in 2001, she said it has emerged as a “center of excellence” for regional counterterrorism efforts.

The minister emphasized the need for “comprehensive approaches” that balance hard power with religious and culturally-sensitive approaches. An example is the Indonesian state’s improved partnership with the Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muhammadiyah, the country’s two main Muslim organizations.

“Security measures should not [mean] blindly attacking,” said Marsudi. “Counterterrorism doesn’t always have to mean direct armed confrontations. Promoting tolerance and pluralism is equally important — this is what differentiates Indonesia from other nations.”

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