Indonesia, S. Korea Build Middle Power Partnership

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  • President Yudhoyono during the launch of the 2011-2025 Masterplan for Acceleration and Expansion of Economic Development (MP3EI).  TEMPO/Eko Siswono Toyudho

    President Yudhoyono during the launch of the 2011-2025 Masterplan for Acceleration and Expansion of Economic Development (MP3EI). TEMPO/Eko Siswono Toyudho

    Indonesia and South Korea commemorated 40 years of diplomatic relations and voiced their intentions to boost cooperation in sectors like economics, politics and defense at a forum in Jakarta on May 16.


    The forum, titled "Enhancing the Korea-Indonesia Middle Power Partnership," saw officials from both countries speak about the importance of working together.


    The term 'middle power', as opposed to superpower or great power, refers to countries that are not permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, or global giants like United States, Japan and Germany.


    "Indonesia and Korea satisfied the crucial requirement of the territory, population, market size and military capability to play as a middle power in the international community," former South Korea prime minister Kim Suk-Soo said in his welcoming remark.


    Diplomatic relations between the two countries must be continually strengthened, Kim said. He added that he was optimistic the partnership would be mutually beneficial and also be a positive force in the wider world.


    Irman Gusman, chair of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD), said now that Indonesia was a middle power; it must play a bigger role in world affairs. "We have become a prime region in international diplomacy," he said.


    Meanwhile, lawmakers and leading think-tank researchers from both countries repeatedly emphasized in their opening remarks the growing value of bilateral trade.


    "Indonesia became South Korea's seventh biggest trade partner, and both countries have been establishing close cooperation on defense and security," said Park Byeong-seog, deputy speaker of Korea's National Assembly. "We would like to contribute to Indonesia's economic development."


    Indonesia and Korea are expediting negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Talks are expected to produce more investment in Indonesia's Masterplan for Acceleration and Expansion of Economic Development (MP3I).


    "To meet that target, both countries are negotiating the CEPA," said Yuri Thamrin, the Foreign Affairs Ministry's director general for Asia-Pacific and Africa.


    The forum, organized by the Korea Foundation (KF) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was held at the Borobudur Hotel in Jakarta. On May 17, the Korean delegation met Vice President Boediono to talk about strengthening bilateral relations.



    SEULKI LEE, WIBISONO NOTODIRDJO, SADIKA HAMID