Jokowi to face int'l summits soon after inauguration
JAKARTA, Indonesia - President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo's capacity to represent Indonesia on the international stage will quickly be tested in a number of international summits scheduled to take place soon after his inauguration in October.
But he is "very ready," according to one of Jokowi’s foreign policy advisors, Rizal Sukma, the executive director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Thursday, Aug. 7, that several international summits await Indonesia's president-elect.
These include the 25th ASEAN Summit, 9th East Asia Summit, and ASEAN+3 Summit in the second week of November in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. The 26th APEC Summit is also scheduled to take place in Beijing on Nov. 10-11. The G20 Summit, where several topics ranging from trade and investment to infrastructure and energy will be discussed, will be held in Brisbane, Australia, on Nov. 15-16.
"So far, Indonesia has played a key role, and this has been acknowledged by the world," Yudhoyono said in the video uploaded to his official YouTube channel.
Yudhoyono, however, was careful not to refer to Jokowi as the president-elect as his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto, is challenging the election results at Indonesia's Constitutional Court.
Jokowi, a former furniture exporter who became a small-town mayor before being catapulted into national fame when he became Jakarta governor, has been perceived to be weaker than Prabowo on international affairs.
Coming into the third presidential debate on foreign policy in June, for example, Jokowi was seen as the underdog. However, while Jokowi was seen to have performed better than Prabowo during the debate, analyst Yohanes Sulaiman found both candidates to be lacking in substance.
There were also criticisms that Jokowi was not that familiar with the intricacies of the South China Sea dispute after saying during the second presidential debate that it was “another country's problem with another country," in what was seen by some as a step back from Indonesia's active role in mediating the dispute.
"There’s no problem, he’s very ready… He fully understands the meaning of those summits for Indonesia," Rizal said on Friday, Aug. 8.
Rizal said the criticisms were unfounded and that Jokowi is capable of building a productive communications with world leaders.
“Look at how Pak Jokowi was able to quickly establish close, smooth and productive communications with the world leaders who called after his declaration by the General Elections Commission (KPU),” he said, adding that the president-elect has already been visited by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, and next week will receive Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
Among the world leaders who called to congratulate Jokowi were US President Barack Obama, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
"Focusing on domestic issues doesn't mean that he ignores the importance of the international dimension," Rizal said.
He added that Indonesia has a professional and competent Foreign Affairs Ministry that would support Jokowi in international affairs. – Rappler.com