Joint Press Conference, Jakarta, Indonesia

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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24 February 2024

SUBJECT/S: Defence Cooperation Agreement, Territorial sovereignty, Borders, Australia-Indonesia bilateral relationship,


INDONESIAN DEFENCE MINISTER, PRABOWO SUBIANTO: Your Excellency, I would like to thank you for your visit from Australia. I mentioned that our bilateral relations now are very good, and we hope to enhance and improve the level of cooperation. And I also mentioned that we hope to finalise and sign the Defence Cooperation agreement between Indonesia and Australia within perhaps the next two or three months. I think that is the essence and we look forward to continue close cooperation with Australia. Thank you.

AUSTRALIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: Well, thank you Pak Prabowo. Thank you very much for hosting me and my delegation today and it is an honour to be here again in Jakarta to meet with my good friends Pak Prabowo. This is the third visit within the last ten months to Indonesia and that’s as it should be because our countries are neighbours and close friends. We have a shared destiny which is very clear, and it is really in that spirit that Pak Prabowo and I have built our personal relationship but that’s reflected in a relationship between our Prime Minister and our President, the Indonesian President, and personifies the relationship between our two countries. It has never been better, and we are enormously grateful for the way in which we have been able to work constructively and closely with Indonesia. We’ve seen, particularly in the field of defence cooperation, as Pak Prabowo said we have been working closely over the last few months in respective of the Defence Cooperation Agreement that has taken further steps forward today and we are hopeful of being in a position to sign agreement within the next few months. And that will be the single deepest most significant Defence Cooperation Agreement between our two countries in our history, in our shared history, it will be a very significant moment in the bilateral relationship.

Can I also said at a personal level, it’s been a joy for me to be able to see you in person and congratulate you on your election to being next President of Indonesia. It’s something that has been watched very closely in Australia and it’s a real joy for me to be able to congratulate you in person. So, thank you very much for having us and we’re very much look forward seeing you again in the future.

SUBIANTO: Thank you very much. I don’t think there is any need for questions. Questions?

JOURNALIST: Thank you very much Mr Deputy Prime Minister. Regarding the huge amount of Australian Defence budget, how should the Indonesian people see it? Is it going to be a trap or an opportunity to our national interest?

And my second question is what is Australia’s standpoint regarding the separatist movement in Papua because there are some voice from Australia concerning about human rights violation?

MARLES: Thank you for the question. Let me do the second issue first. We, Australia utterly recognises the territorial sovereignty of Indonesia, full stop. And there is no support for any independence movements. We support the territorial sovereignty of Indonesia. And that includes those provinces being part of Indonesia. No ifs, no buts. And I want to be very clear about that.

In respect of Australia's defence spending, our strategic posture what we are doing in relation to our surface fleet, which were announced during the course of this week, we've been very keen to work closely with Indonesia, to brief Indonesia on what our strategic intent is, and, and the answer to that is that we are building our defence forces so that we can play our part in the collective security of the region in which both Indonesia and Australia live. That is our strategic intent. Our strategic intent is to provide strategic balance within our region and therefore peace. And it is about building the collective security of our region. Come back to what I said before. It is obvious for anyone who looks at the map that Australia and Indonesia have a shared destiny. And we have a shared collective security and that is the basis upon which we are moving forward with our own defence planning. And we are working really closely with our friends in Indonesia around exactly what our intent is and how we are developing that.

JOURNALIST: Just in terms of boat arrivals, refugees in Indonesia are living in impoverished conditions - there are many thousands. The push factors are quite enhanced. I was wondering if you discussed with Pak Prabowo anything that can be done to alleviate the conditions of refugees.

And Pak Prabowo. I'm interested in your thoughts about the relationship with Australia. Do you have any new ideas, new initiatives and should Australia be ready for any surprises?

MARLES: Perhaps if I go first. I won't go into the details of the conversation we had but yes, we spoke about these matters. And I think at the heart of the conversation that we had was that issue of people smuggling, people trafficking, this is a shared challenge for both of our countries. And that we need to be working cooperatively, which we are, in terms of how we deal with that. Now the precise steps that we're taking we will keep to ourselves, but, but there is a high degree of cooperation between our two countries, which we are very grateful for. And we see this as a shared challenge that we're working on together.

SUBIANTO: Yes. I would like to make some comments. I don't think there'll be too many surprises. But one thing is certain. As the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia mentioned, we are close neighbours. We are destined to be close neighbours and we are determined to be good neighbours and we have very good relationships. Historically, there are ups and downs, but we consider Australia a good friend who's always in many critical instances have sided with Indonesia. And we are determined to maintain and enhance this relationship. So, I don't think there'll be any surprises but we are determined to foster this good relationship in many fields: education, economic, cultural, military, so there will be many dimensions but I think education is one of the fields that we discussed quite a lot. As you know, one of our main focus is to provide education to our people. And we see Australia as a very good partner for this. I think there's several Australian universities that are opening campuses in Indonesia. I think two or three have already made serious progress. So, there are a lot of fields that we see could be a significant progress. I think that's my answer. So no, no real surprises, you know, just we need the best of relationships with all our neighbours and that's our focus now is to maintain the best of relationships with our neighbours, and thank God that we have already achieved that, all these friendships within all our direct neighbours and especially with Australia. We value that very much. Thank you.



Deputy Prime Minister’s Office: | 02 6277 7800

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