Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Presidential candidate Anies Baswedan recently said Indonesia's foreign affairs policy has so far been transactional and the former Jakarta Governor intends to pursue what he calls a "value-based foreign policy" if he becomes Indonesia's next leader.
According to Anies, Indonesia's international relations have been putting too much emphasis on securing measurable benefits, for instance, investment deals. Being one of the world's largest democracies, Indonesia should have also played a more proactive role on the global stage.
"Many believe Indonesia adopts a transactional foreign policy. So Indonesia only does something if the foreign matters in question can give Indonesia investment and trade benefits, not because it is part of our responsibility as a global citizen," Anies told a forum hosted by think-tank Central Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta on Wednesday.
"The future foreign policy that I envision is a paradigm shift from what is currently transactional to something that is value-based," Anies said.
The National Democratic Party (Nasdem) presidential nominee then listed what sort of values his dream foreign policy upholds. They include the primacy of human life and environmental stewardship. Anies said: "If we don't have values, we will only talk about the profit or loss."
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's foreign policy has been undeniably investment and trade-oriented. Jokowi often tries to attract foreign investment when meeting world leaders as Indonesia pursues the domestic processing of its natural resources. Jokowi believes having the processing plants in the country can help create jobs. Indonesia will also get to enjoy greater economic benefits by exporting value-added goods rather than unprocessed natural commodities, according to Jokowi.
Anies aims to lower Indonesia's poverty rate to 4-5 percent by 2029 if elected as president. He seeks to bring down extreme poverty to zero percent by 2026.
Food shortage and Russia-Ukraine war
Also, Anies commented on how Indonesia responded to the Russia-Ukraine war. His statement alluded to Jokowi's trip to Kyiv-Moscow, which was in an attempt to stop the war that had taken a toll on global food supplies.
"We [Indonesia] tend to pursue narrow interests in our international relations. Take a look [at how we handle Russian] invasion against Ukraine. When we went there [to Ukraine and Russia], we spoke of securing our food supply chain. But this is something that is bigger than food supply," Anies said.
Jokowi went on a peace mission to the two warring countries in mid-2022. This was about four months after Russia launched a full-scale invasion against Ukraine. During the visit, Jokowi offered to bridge communication between Russia's Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The talks also revolved around the war-induced food shortages, with Jokowi saying that 207 million tons of wheat could not be shipped out of Russia and Ukraine. Sometime after the peace mission, Jokowi admitted that it was unlikely for the two presidents to have a dialogue at the time.
"I actually wanted to create a space for dialogue. But after seeing what was happening on the ground, it wasn't easy to arrange a dialogue between Putin and Zelenskyy. That is why I turned the discussions to the food crisis," Jokowi said in a forum with the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) last August.
Later that year, the leaders of the world's top economies gathered in Bali for the G20 Summit. The Bali leaders' declaration writes that the G20 members had reiterated their national positions and deplored "in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine". This was stronger in language compared to what the subsequent G20 New Delhi Summit issued. The New Delhi document did not overtly condemn Russia's invasion, only referring to it as "the war in Ukraine".
Senior economist Yose Rizal Damuri applauded Anies' foreign policy ideas, saying that Indonesia can still pursue its economic interests without becoming too transactional in its global interactions.
"When we are not too transactional, we do not only focus on trade matters. It is a broader economic diplomacy that can bring us more benefits – perhaps not in the short term, but in the long run," Yose told the Globe shortly after the conference.