Saturday, May 19, 2007

Defense Ministry pursues House ratification of defense treaties

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Defense Ministry is synchronizing key issues for the implementation of the recently-signed defense treaties between Indonesia and Singapore as part of efforts to persuade the House of Representatives to ratify the documents.

Indonesia and Singapore signed a defense cooperation agreement and a military training area agreement in Bali last month, but must wait until these treaties are ratified by the respective Houses of the two countries.

"We are now synchronizing articles of the implementation arrangement between the armed forces of the two countries," Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono told reporters Tuesday on the sidelines of the inauguration of two officers at the Defense Ministry.

Vice Adm. Soemardjono replaces Vice Adm.(ret) Iman Zaki as inspector general of the Defense Ministry, while Rear Adm. Tedjo Edi Purdianto replaces Rear Adm.(ret) Yuwendi as director general of defense planning.

"Synchronizing the implementation arrangement is part of a process to persuade the House, as well as the people, that the content of these agreements, the treaty on extradition and the defense cooperation agreement, does not lessen the sovereignty or the national interests of either of the two countries," he added.

Juwono said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered him and Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirayuda to settle the ratification with commission I of the House. Ratification hinges on the discussion between the two ministers and the House on the framework of the agreements, as well as on crucial articles.

Juwono said the agreements would facilitate the interests of the two countries.

"This is a deal. We need to return many assets that were taken to Singapore, and at the same time Singapore needs space for training. This has become a heated issue only because it involves Singapore, which is usually an easy target for people in the House," Juwono said.

Indonesian training fields that could be used by the Singaporean military include Bravo area offshore Natuna and Ara Island in the Karimata Strait, both in the Riau Islands, for naval training; Baturaja in South Sumatra for army training and Alfas I and II in Tanjung Pinang and Natuna for air force maneuver training.

Juwono said the defense and extradition agreements were signed simultaneously because an agreement between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Oct. 24, 2005, in the Tampak Siring State Palace in Bali required the synchronized implementation of extradition and military cooperation.

"Developments in one agreement must refer to developments in the other agreement, but do not necessarily have to be linked to each other. Parallel, but not necessarily linked to each other, that was the term used," Juwono said.

Secretary general of the Defense Ministry, Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, said his ministry would hold a working meeting with House Commission I for foreign affairs, defense and information on May 28 to explain in detail the agreements. (02)

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