TEMPO.CO, Sydney - Australia is scheduled to issue an apology to Indonesia today after its navy breached Indonesia’s territory several times due to its controversial policy of stopping boats carrying asylum seekers from entering its waters.
Immigation Minister Scott Morrison said he had been told earlier this week about the "inadvertent breaches" in a few days and immediately informed the Indonesian navy.
Morrison said, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has not been able to contact Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to discuss about this issue and a formal apology will be issued by the Australian embassy in Jakarta this afternoon.
These breaches will likely further strain ties between two countries that had hit its lowest point since the 1990s after recent alleged spying on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and other Indonesian high officials by Australia’s intelligence.
Indonesia downgraded its relations with Australia in November as a result of the spying allegation, suspending military and intelligence cooperation between two countries, including over asylum seekers.
The ongoing crisis between both countries will have serious impacts as Indonesia is the main importer of Australia’s agricultural products such as wheat and live cattle. Australia is Indonesia’s 10th largers export market.
Minister Morrison said Australia "depply regrets" the breaches of territorial sovereignty, but at the same time defended Australia’s right to protect its borders.
Reuters | Abdul Manan