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Sanctions Never Work, Will Have Unintended Consequences, Says Indonesian Deputy FM

© Sputnik / Denis BolotskyG20 Indonesia 2022 summit
G20 Indonesia 2022 summit - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.05.2022
As Russia has become the target of Western sanctions, Indonesia refuses to cut its ties with Moscow, with Jakarta exercising its own independent approach to the conflict in Ukraine and the issue of restrictions.
According to I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Indonesia’s deputy foreign minister (director general of American and European affairs at the country’s Foreign Ministry), his nation is calling for both sides of the conflict in Ukraine to resort to a peaceful settlement through negotiations, and doesn’t view economic sanctions as an effective measure.
Sputnik: Indonesia and Russia have been cooperating on many levels – both bilaterally and within international organisations and fora, such as ASEAN, APEC, and the G20. Which areas of cooperation between Moscow and Jakarta are most important for your country?
I Gede Ngurah Swajaya: Well, bilateral relations between Indonesia and Russia have already been developing for the past 70 years, and I think we are now trying to move toward a strategic partnership between Indonesia and Russia. When we are talking about strategic partnership, certainly the cooperation will cover so many areas and sectors of mutual concern and mutual benefits, based on mutual respect between the two countries.
© Sputnik / Denis TetyushinI Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Indonesia’s deputy foreign minister and Sputnik corresondent Denis Bolotsky in Jakarta
G20 Indonesia 2022 summit - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.05.2022
I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, Indonesia’s deputy foreign minister and Sputnik corresondent Denis Bolotsky in Jakarta
So, we have also seen in the past years the economic cooperation, particularly in terms of trade - we see an increase between Indonesia and Russia, and the increase was 40%. This is encouraging. And of course, the two leaders, back in 2018, agreed on the target of trying to achieve $5 billion in bilateral trade between Indonesia and Russia. But of course, we are also talking about other areas of cooperation, including the area of defence, security, the area of people-to-people interactions, as well as how to really work together to address the COVID-19 pandemic. So we are really looking at a wide range of areas of cooperation between the two.
Sputnik: Since you’ve mentioned people-to-people relations, according to a recent poll, 49% of Indonesians favour Russia, putting it in third place after Saudi Arabia and the UK. In your opinion, what are the reasons for such a friendly attitude, and what is the common ground between Russia and Indonesia on a human level?
I Gede Ngurah Swajaya: Well, let me tell you the secret of Indonesians. Indonesians will certainly be in favour of people whenever those people respect Indonesia. So that is the basis. I don't want to comment any further on this poll, and I think this is very nuanced here. But what I would like to emphasise is that Indonesian people are so friendly toward their friends from all over the world. But certainly Indonesians feel, as I mentioned to you before, that the bilateral relations, the relations between Indonesia and Russia date back 70 years. And this is a very long and traditional friendship between Indonesia and Russia. And I know the famous song of Indonesia “Rayuan Pulau Kelapa” [a song which has a Russian version “Indonesia, My Love”, known in the USSR since the 1960s and has been performed in Indonesian by Russian diplomats in Jakarta - ed. Sputnik] - they sang it in Russia. So that has really impressed a lot of Indonesians, that so many people in Russia - they can sing that song in the Russian language.
Sputnik: As you mentioned, Moscow and Jakarta are actively working on establishing a strategic partnership. Many nations that are friendly towards Moscow, including your country, are now under pressure from the West to cut ties with Russia and to impose economic sanctions against it because of the situation in Ukraine. What is your country’s position on these issues?
I Gede Ngurah Swajaya: First, of course, I would like to emphasise the independent and active foreign policy of Indonesia. “Independent” does not necessarily mean “neutral”. “Independent” means that we have our independence in deciding our position based on our constitution. We have our independence in pursuing our foreign policy based on what is mandated in our constitution. “Active” here means that we will not stay silent. We will try to be active in trying to implement what is written in the Indonesian constitution, which is promoting world peace and security. And that is the reason why, I think, from the very beginning, even before the conflict started, we have been making a public statement, which, perhaps, was not received very well by both sides: we are saying, we are emphasising, that we need to resort to a peaceful settlement through negotiation and diplomacy on every problem that we have.
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So, that is our position: we are urging all parties to refrain from using military means and by putting the primacy to negotiations and diplomacy. But when it started on 24 February, we also made our public statement. Our president says that the conflict should stop. And, of course, our position is very clear, based on international law and the UN Charter. And that is the reason why Indonesia has been working with the international community inclusively, with all of the international community in the UN, when we had the first UN General Assembly resolutions, where we are certainly calling for the respect or upholding of international law, the UN Charter principles and purposes, and calling for a stop to the conflict and to respect territorial integrity, and also to address the humanitarian situation. And this has also led to repeated calls, and I think our president has already been speaking with President [Vladimir] Putin as well, that Indonesia wants to stop the suffering of all, we need to stop the war immediately. And we need to also ask for the two parties to return to the negotiating table through peaceful negotiations.

With regard to sanctions, I think, we believe that sanctions never work. And I think what we are always worried about is that sanctions will also have unintended consequences, as you see now with what is happening in the world.

Sputnik: Indonesia currently holds the G20 presidency. What is the importance of the Group of Twenty for your country and what does your nation plan to gain as a result of being in this role?
I Gede Ngurah Swajaya: Well, Indonesia sees the presidency as a responsibility. We know that from the beginning, when the G20 was established, that the international community, especially the G7 at that time, thought that they also need emerging economies in order to settle the world economic issues, the world financial issues, in an inclusive manner. And that was the reason why the G20 was established and Indonesia was part of the G20. So we would like to really focus on that responsibility, because we know that in the post-pandemic situation, the economy has not yet fully recovered. And also we do not want this conflict to worsen the situation, or even to constrain the international community's efforts in order to recover the economy.
Also, I think we would like to make sure, this is also the theme of the Indonesian presidency, [that we will] “recover together, recover stronger”, meaning “recover together” with all of the international community and to “recover stronger”. In this regard, Indonesia is always joining the international community in trying to make sure that the WHO’s target of 70% vaccination of the global community could also be fulfilled this year. Without that, we will not be able to really address the pandemic.
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And, of course, next is now how Indonesia, together with all of the members of the G20 as well as the invited guests of the G20, will also be able to contribute, to look forward in trying to prevent a food crisis, which we have seen emerging in many countries, especially developing countries. An energy crisis is also emerging now, and inflation has already been shooting high, when at the same time, stagnation is also dangerous: the global economy could face a situation of stagflation.
So, I think this is the responsibility of Indonesia as the presidency of the G20 to work together in an inclusive manner with the whole international community. So this will remain as the primary multilateral institution for us to have a deliberation, to come up with a policy recommendation, knowing full well from the beginning that there are diversities. You know, we have never been of the same views from the beginning, and that is the beauty of working in multilateralism and also working together with different countries in order to pursue our common goals.
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