Indonesian Soft Power Diplomacy in Melanesian Spearhead Group
With cultural and historical similarities, Indonesia believes that the Melanesian people in Indonesia’s five provinces will be a great asset in enhancing Indonesia’s relations with Melanesian Spearhead Group countries.
Indonesia is not only a neighbor who lives next door, but also a brother who shares the same hope with the MSG community. The Pacific Region is one of Indonesia’s top priorities.
The first working visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia was to PNG, Solomon Islands,and Fiji. President Jokowi then visited Papua New Guinea, which was also a reflection of Indonesia’s priorities that wants to continue positive engagements by building strong connectivity with fellow MSG members.Indonesia’s maritime basic concep temphasizes “connectivity” as one of its pillars.
A better connectivity will open up wider opportunities for everyone. Through Indonesia’s membership in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), connectivity between communities in MSG member countries and 11 million Melanesian Indonesians will be further enhanced. In addition, it will also open up greater market access to 253 million Indonesians who have potentials to be partners.
Indonesia is also the gateway in entering a larger ASEAN market, a strong market of 600 million people, or equivalent to 9% of the world’s population.
Indonesia’s commitment to the MSG is genuine and concrete. Indonesia wants to support fellow MSG members to have a strong and broad engagement with the international community.
Indonesia and the MSG countries will grow together through the exploration of new opportunities. That is why Indonesia encourages the active participation of MSG countries in APEC and the Asia Africa Conference. As an archipelago, Indonesia and the MSG are faced with common challenges in the form of natural disasters, climate change, and improving economic prosperity.
They are major challenges that must be addressed and require joint efforts to be developed together.
In short, growing together implies the strength of Indonesia’s commitment to working more closely with MSG countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
Indonesia is committed to helping Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) countries. Therefore, Indonesia was present in Vanuatu to assist in the post-Cyclone Pam recovery.
As a country with the same geographical and cultural background,there is an abundance of avenues to expand cultural exchanges and cooperation. One alternative is through organizing a Melanesian Cultural Festival.Growing together to improve maximum economic welfare is also important.
Indonesia has full confidence that Indonesia and the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) can increase the value of a two-way trade. Providing technical cooperation can help in achieving better economic posture.
In this spirit, Indonesia remains firm in providing technical cooperation through capacity building programs in the field of processing fishery products, handicrafts, arts and culture, diplomatic courses, journalism, and human resource development.
The Pacific’s Market Opportunity is Very Potential
Currently, Indonesia has conducted no less than 130 Technical Cooperation Programs involving 583 participants from Pacific countries. The private sector and SMEs have also contributed to this program.
However, there is still a lot of untapped potential and more exploration in the future. Therefore, there are many things to do.In the Establishment Agreement of the MSG in 2007, it was stated that
Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) members fully respect the principles of international law governing relations between nations, including the principles of sovereignty, the equal independence of all nations and non-interference in the domestic affairs of a country.
This was reaffirmed in the Joint Statement of Indonesia and MSG members in 2014, reflecting a shared commitment to further strengthen the partnership.
Now, after becoming an associate member, Indonesia is committed to promote a closer partnership with MSG that will benefit both parties.
Indonesia aims to enhance organizational values; expand relationship between government, society, and individuals; strengthen cooperation and overcome common challenges; deepen economic ties and development cooperation for the people’s future welfare in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG). Indonesia’s membership in MSG will surely bring benefit to all member countries.