2+2 press conference with Defence Minister Marise Payne, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu
JULIE BISHOP Defence Minister Payne and I are truly delighted to welcome Ministers Marsudi and Ryacudu here for the purposes of our annual 2-Plus-2 meeting. Indeed, we noted that it's the third time that four ministers have been taking part in our 2-Plus-2 meeting.
We had a very warm and constructive and wide-ranging discussion today over a broad array of topics. We focussed particularly on our region, the Indo-Pacific, which arguably is one of the most dynamic regions in the world, and that means there are many challenges and opportunities, and the core tenet of our discussion today was how Australia and Indonesia continue to work so closely together to meet those challenges and embrace those opportunities.
We are both, as nations, strongly committed to a region of peaceful development, where rivalries are managed and where any disagreements or disputes are resolved through habits of negotiation and cooperation and dialogue. Minister Marsudi and I signed- no we didn't; we witnessed the signing – we wanted to sign it – but we witnessed the signing of a Maritime Cooperation Agreement, which underscores the depth and the breadth of the cooperation between our two countries. Australia and Indonesia, specifically, are working together to counter terrorism; we are working on the issue of returning foreign terrorist fighters; we are continuing our work to combat human trafficking and people-smuggling, and our work as co-chairs of the Bali Process is as vital and important as ever.
Of particular concern was the issue of the scourge of illicit drugs, and we talked about ways that we can work together in activities to disrupt the drug trafficking trade and seize drugs, and there has been some success in that regard and there's much more we can do.
On the economic front, we're committed to increasing our trade and investment ties, working towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between our two nations. And on student exchanges, we both invest heavily in our young people so that our very close and cooperative relationship will endure for generations to come.
We look forward to welcoming President Widodo to Australia for his third visit here, and we know that on the eve of the Australia-ASEAN Special Summit, President Widodo and Prime Minister Turnbull will have a very productive meeting.
We have a very busy weekend ahead, with the first leaders' summit between Australia and the leaders of the ASEAN nations, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say how delighted we are to welcome the ministers here, and conclude our 2-Plus-2, quite appropriately, on the eve of the ASEAN summit.
RETNO MARSUDI Thank you very much Minister Bishop, Minister Payne. Of course, I'm very delighted to be back again in Sydney, and you see that I wear this scarf.
This scarf symbolises the partnership, the friendship between Indonesia and Australia, and of course, thank you very much for the warm welcome and hospitality.
We have just concluded the fifth 2-Plus-2 dialogue in a constructive, open, frank and neighbourly manner. The 2-Plus-2 dialogue is an example of our strong commitment, as good neighbours, to strengthen partnership and collaboration, to ensure continued peace, stability and prosperity for both our countries, people, and beyond.
A lot has changed in regional and global strategy environments since our last meeting – the 2-Plus-2 dialogue in Bali in 2016. Our 2-Plus-2 meeting today discussed many of these challenges and ways to address them and to prevent negative impact to our national, regional development stability and prosperity.
On the maritime issues, Indonesia is a maritime nation, so it's very normal that maritime cooperation is priority for Indonesia. As Minister Bishop mentioned, today we witnessed the signing of plan of action on the maritime cooperation, as the implementation of the declaration that's signed between our two countries in February 2017 in Sydney. With this MOU, it allows us to begin cooperating on concrete programs on nine key pillars of cooperation, including connectivity and blue economy, maritime security and combatting transnational organised crime, combatting [indistinct] and crimes in fisheries sector. This maritime cooperation becomes one of the priority in our cooperation.
Colleagues from the media, we also discussed, today how Indonesia and Australia can better contribute to our region. For 50 years, we enjoyed ecosystem of peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia and its surroundings. Australia, as ASEAN first dialogue partners, has played an important part in creating such ecosystem. Indonesia there welcomes tomorrow's ASEAN-Australia Special Summit.
As reflected in the Australian Foreign Policy White Paper 2017, in my discussion with Minister Bishop, I learnt that Indonesia and Australia share views on the growing importance of Indo-Pacific region. Our aim is to take the opportunities while overcoming challenges, including the non-traditional threat to our maritime security and safety. Located at the [indistinct] of Indian Pacific Ocean, Indonesia offer an initiative to develop and integrate both ocean into a coherent Indo-Pacific region. The Indo-Pacific concept must be done through concerted action and based on the following principles: open, transparent and inclusive; strengthening habit of dialogue and cooperation; upholding international law and through a building block approach.
Colleagues, in our discussion today, we also agreed to strengthen and expand cooperation on counter-terrorism. My colleague, Minister of Defence of Indonesia, will speak on that issue. I just want to emphasise on the importance of soft power approach adopted by Indonesia, and as we speak now, a number of Indonesian youth from various religious background is visiting Sydney under the outstanding Youth For The World program to discuss multiculturalism and exchange of views on inter-faith relations with Australian youth. So, once again, thank you very much Julie and Marise.
JULIE BISHOP Thank you, Marise?
MARISE PAYNE Thank you very much Julie, and to Retno and Pak Ryamizard, it is a great pleasure to welcome you to my hometown of Sydney for the ASEAN Australia Special Summit and for today's 2-Plus-2; as Julie said, our third 2-Plus-2 together. So it is something which has really enabled us to foster the relationships, foster the cooperation which is so important between us. Can I at the beginning acknowledge our teams from Australia and Indonesia respectively who have supported us in bringing today's meeting together. We know these things don't happen overnight, so I want to thank those from the Defence and Foreign Affairs sections of both of our governments for doing that.
Pak Ryamizard and I met in Perth in February of this year, so it's our second meeting already for 2018 and a very productive one here today. We've highlighted our shared security challenges and interests, and you know that they include particularly the challenge of counter-terrorism in our region and also maritime security, particularly where we are able to cooperate and to collaborate with our ASEAN partners and other partners within the region on both of those issues. They also help to foster the security and stability which is so important to us here in this region. I want to note, as a result of my discussions last night with Pak Ryamizard and our meeting today, also how much Australia values Indonesia's support for the preservation of the wreck of HMAS Perth which lies in Indonesian waters, is the final resting place for 353 Australian sailors. It is very important to us that Indonesia has been able to classify this location as a maritime conservation zone. We very much appreciate the commitment of the Indonesian Government in doing that and look forward to working with them further to ensure the preservation continues of that wreck.
We signed our defence cooperation arrangements earlier in the year, Pak Ryamizard and I. That is the framework under which we organise our defence cooperation. We also commented very positively today on the development of the Our Eyes – information sharing regional agreement that has been led by Indonesia – and the tri-lateral cooperative arrangements that are in place for patrols of the Sulu Sea between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. I very much look forward to welcoming Minister Ryamizard back to Australia later this year, hopefully, potentially on a visit to Darwin and to furthering our cooperation to ensure we are addressing the protection of our region.
JULIE BISHOP Minister Ryamizard?
INTERPRETER FOR RYAMIZARD RYACUDU Members of the press, Defence Minister and Foreign Minister of Australia, and also the Indonesian Foreign Minister. And there's two issues of defence that we discussed, and the first one was about maritime security, and the second one was about counter-terrorism. And with the first issue- so in Indonesia, so we have three places that we're conducting maritime security. So, the first one is the security of the Malacca Straits, so that's with four countries: Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. And the purpose is to prevent smuggling of narcotics, drugs. And we're also seeing the terrorist movements in this area. That's the first one.
And second one is also securing the sea around Thailand. So, the sea around Thailand. So, it's also the same issue. So in terms of piracy or hijackings and also drugs, and also being wary of terrorist movements in the area. So this is made up of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. So, this is in Thailand, around the sea surrounding Thailand.
And the third patrols that we're doing is in the Sulu Sea. So we have a tri-lateral arrangement. So, it's between Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, and so the purpose of this is to prevent piracy or hijackings at sea, and we don't want our region or Indonesia to be like the situation in Somalia, where pirates are just free to reign at sea, but we're not allowing that to happen in our region. So, we are holding these tri-lateral patrols through maritime and through air patrols, and then in the future, we're also going to be doing land patrols. And so, we've been doing maritime patrols for two years now, and we haven't had anymore hijackings or anymore issues of pirates at sea in the Sulu Sea.
Secondly, we're also doing air patrols, and then also we'll have the land patrols where we do these in the future. And the result, as I said- so, we don't have anymore hijackings and hopefully we don't have anymore into the future. And then secondly, we are also trying to avert the activities of ISIS in the region as well because- why ISIS? Because, why is ISIS growing there? Because they're able to use the separatists there. So, they're quite safe there, not like in other regions, and then they spread out to other regions like Indonesia from there.
And so for the South China Sea- so I've gone to my other defence minister colleagues in ASEAN, and so those who have countries that touch on the South China Sea. So, we've been doing patrols for about 200 nautical miles. And so, if we look at the lines, if we go from Vietnam and we go down to Indonesia, Singapore, and we go to the Philippines, we can see there that almost half of the South China Sea has already been secured. We are doing patrols there. So, these are our maritime activities that we're conducting.
And then, on the topic of terrorism, so at the moment we are facing a third generation of terrorists. So, the first one is Al Qaeda, when they blew up the World Trade Centre. That was the first generation. The second generation is what we saw with the issue in the Middle East, with Iraq and Syria. That's the second generation. And now, we have the third generation, which is the returning foreign fighters, who are coming back to their homeland. So, in East Asia and then we have the centre of that is in Indonesia and in the Philippines.
So facing these returnees- they are experienced fighters from Iraq and from Syria. It's worth noting that with these returning fighters, that there's 31,500 foreign fighters that have returned, and to Indonesia we've had about 1000 come back. So they've come back to Indonesia and the Philippines. Others have just transited by other nations.
And so with their activities we have also formed intelligence- so our intelligence-sharing initiative called Our Eyes Initiative. So, in order to destroy ISIS we need to know for sure what their activities are and where they are, so that's the aim. Intelligence sharing is very important and very necessary. We've been doing this with Australia – with very frequent contact with Australia – and also with Malaysia, Singapore, then Brunei. In this way, we're able to understand, to know the exact situation of what is happening. So recently there was an attack against the military in the Philippines; we were able to know straight away about this. We can see what is the best way of overcoming these challenges, and we're able to share advice with the Defence Minister of the Philippines of how best to overcome this. So that's what we are doing.
Also what we are keeping an eye on is also the monitoring- so we're looking at the monitoring of terrorism financing and also social media and also the returnees who are coming in and out of Indonesia, so this is what we emphasise and what we spoke about. So this started from last night and the meeting that we just had, and it was quite an effective discussion that we've had. Last night we spoke for two hours, and the meeting we had this morning was also about two hours, and also the Foreign Minister also had a meeting earlier than that this morning. Thank you.
JULIE BISHOP Now, we have a number of questions, right?
JOURNALIST Foreign Minister Bishop, is it Australia's ambition to join ASEAN, and what would be [indistinct] requirements to accept that?
JULIE BISHOP Well, in fact the membership of ASEAN is a matter for the ten ASEAN nations quite self-evidently. I note there was some media reporting today over some comments that President Widodo is said to have made. Australia is already a very close partner of each one of the individual ASEAN nations. We are a very close partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, having been the first dialogue partner of ASEAN in 1974. Since that time, we have elevated the relationship between Australia and ASEAN to that of strategic partner. We are now hosting the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit. We also have a biennial meeting on the sides of the East Asia Summit. We have an ambassador for ASEAN, and a post in Jakarta to more deeply engage with ASEAN.
So already there's a very deep connection between Australia and ASEAN, and also between Australia, for example, and Indonesia. So we have this extraordinary partnership between the countries. Should there ever be a time where Australia were given the honour of being offered membership in ASEAN, of course we would take such an offer very seriously, but I stress ASEAN is an association of ten member states, and any changes to that membership is a matter entirely for the membership of ASEAN.
JOURNALIST Okay. Minister Marsudi, would you like to see Australia join ASEAN? And would you be concerned that the focus of the summit would shift if Australia was [indistinct]?
RETNO MARSUDI I think I just want to underline what my colleague Julie mentioned about the partnership between ASEAN and Australia. In fact, Australia is among the first partner of ASEAN; it started in '74 and it is a very active partner. So not only a partner since '74, but is very active partners, and I think the partnership between Australia and ASEAN will continue to grow and be more strong in the future. Thank you.
JOURNALIST I want to know the maritime plan [indistinct] of ASEAN of goals to improve the cooperation of maritime security, trade and advancement, and how far does it influence free trade- there are two countries, Australia and Indonesia, in terms of export and import and in terms of minimalising free shipping?
JULIE BISHOP And that was to both of us, yes? This plan of action is an important development in our maritime cooperation. Australia and Indonesia are both significant maritime nations in the Indo-Pacific, and it's only natural that, being neighbours, we would want to work more closely together in the maritime space. This particular plan of action is extensive. It involves 85 separate maritime activities under a number of pillars, about nine pillars, and 17 Australian agencies will be involved from our side in implementing this plan of action. It covers matters such as drug trafficking, people smuggling, countering terrorism, but also open, free, liberalised trade and investment and economic development. Australia and Indonesia share very similar views on the need to support, promote, and if necessary defend the international and regional rules-based order. That order includes free and open trade between nations. So this plan of action goes some way towards those ideals. It also focuses on our fundamental belief in freedom of navigation and freedom of over-flight in accordance with international law. So this plan of action is a pragmatic series of steps that we can take together to ensure that our maritime surrounds are as peaceful and stable and prosperous as Australia and Indonesia can make them.
RETNO MARSUDI Well, thank you Minister Bishop. I thinkto respond to your question, I think it's better for me to explain the nine pillars of the plan of action because it covers your question. First is, of course, the maritime connectivity and blue economy. Second, the maritime security and combat transnational organised crime. Third, combatting [indistinct] and crime in fishery sector. Fourth, maritime safety and prevent and respond to maritime environment pollution. Fifth, search and rescue and assess the risk management. Seven [sic], maritime science and technology collaboration. Seventh- eighth- six, seven, sustainable management of marine resources and blue carbon. Eight, maritime cultural heritage. Nine is enhanced dialogue in the regional and multilateral forum. So, I think those nine pillars in the plan of action is very comprehensive and it covers your question. Thank you.
JOURNALIST Ibu Marsudi was Australia and Timor-Leste on the Timor Sea boundary raised during your meetings, and is Indonesia considering whether to seek a reopening of its treaty with Australia on the Timor Sea boundaries?
RETNO MARSUDI Well, thank you very much. This morning, on the bilateral meeting with Minister Bishop, we discussed also about the signing of the Timor-Leste-Australia conciliation on Timor Sea. Of course, first of all we'd like to congratulate the success of the conciliation and welcome the use of UNCLOS mechanism. Our technical official have done preliminary study on the treaty and it looks that none of the line encroach Indonesia maritime rights. Therefore, we appreciate the effort of both negotiators and commission for paying respect to Indonesia interests and look forward to cooperate in related boundaries issue in the future.
On the Perth Treaty 1997, although not directly related to the outcome of the Timor-Leste-Australia conciliation, public question rises on the future of Perth Treaty 1997. At this point, I would like to mention that our technical- sorry. The treaty cannot be ratified yet, because actually there is not implemented treaty. It could not be implemented yet because the ratification is not there yet. At this point, the talk at the technical level are required to deal with the future of the Perth Treaty.
JOURNALIST [Speaks Bahasa Indonesia]
INTERPRETER FOR JOURNALIST In the 2-Plus-2 meeting, did you speak about Rohingya?
RETNO MARSUDI I would like to respond in Bahasa Indonesia as well. [Speaks Bahasa Indonesia]
INTERPRETER FOR RETNO MARSUDI Spoke a little bit about the Rakhine State, especially the impact on Bangladesh, and also we spoke about how we can help Myanmar and Bangladesh, especially at the moment, to things regarding humanitarian aspect. Indonesia and Australia have provided assistance, but we also focus on how we can help to resolve this matter in long term, not just humanitarian, but also long-term resolution. Thank you.
JOURNALIST So, Ibu Retno and Ms Bishop, I just wanted to ask you if you could identify any concrete new steps that were identified today or witnessed in the signing today, in the agreement today, that would assist with some kind of agreement on how to handle migrants and asylum-seekers in the region. Is there anything you could specifically [indistinct].
JULIE BISHOP Australia and Indonesia already have a high level of cooperation in relation to the criminal people-smuggling networks. We have a long history of cooperation, and the agreement that we signed last February and the plan of action builds on that. But Australia and Indonesia are already the co-chairs of the Bali Process, which has been in existence since about 2002, and that defines the regional framework within which we operate, and then of course bilaterally we have a very strong, close degree of cooperation and collaboration on these issues. Of course, the plan of action is broader than that; it looks at the whole maritime environment and it sets out 85 new initiatives. So, if you ask what's new, there are 85 new activities that we will be carrying out together to cover our whole maritime environment and the broad range of issues that come within that maritime jurisdiction.
So, I want to thank also Ibu Retno for her continuing support and cooperation on a whole range of issues facing Australia and Indonesia, and I'm delighted that we were able to have this opportunity to continue our dialogue on these challenges and opportunities facing Indonesia and Australia.
RETNO MARSUDI Let me add a little bit on the cooperation that we have with Australia, on the Bali Process, on people-smuggling and trafficking in person, and related transnational crime. I think the cooperation was there for years. Our last meeting was in March 2017. There are two progress resulting from the meeting. One is the involvement of the private sectors, and thanks to Australia that hosted the first meeting, the Bali Process Government and Business Forum, which already have the work planned for 12 months to be implemented. And the second one, we also agreed on the consultation mechanism, informal consultation mechanism, just in case the emergency situation emerged. So, we would like to continue our good cooperation on the practical issues. Thank you very much.