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G20 Chair Indonesia Should Promote Universal Values of Global Trade, Human Rights

April 21, 2022, 11.43 PM

JAKARTA, - As the world was slowly recovering from the collapse triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war broke out. It is quite challenging for Indonesia to host G20 this year.

In the mid of uncertainty, Indonesia holds various G20 meetings, online and offline. Some leaders of the world’s major economies even made their statements to exclude Russia from the G20 following its conflict with Ukraine.

State Secretary at the Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Ministry Martin Klus sat down with Kompas Go to share his views on Indonesia’s G20 presidency and other issues on Wednesday, April 20. Klus is on a three-day official visit to Indonesia from April 20-23. Slovakia is a member of the NATO and the European Union (EU), which the latter is part of the G20.

The following are excerpts from Kompas Go’s exclusive interview with the Slovak Deputy Foreign Minister:

Also readIndonesia Keen on Bolstering Defense, Economic Ties with Slovakia

Question: What is the purpose of your visit and what is your expectation from your meetings here?

Answer: Expectations are always very high and I look forward to the meetings. We have a very good relationship with the Embassy of Indonesia in Bratislava. I have to say that the relationship makes the people-to-people contacts more fruitful as some Indonesian students come to Bratislava and vice versa.

The meetings are expected to cover not only economic cooperation between Slovakia and Indonesia but also the European Union and the Southeast Asian countries. There are rooms to improve and we can help each other bilateral way. The security issue is also an important topic because this is becoming a very concrete problem in our region following the Ukraine-Russia war. Besides, we are very concerned with what is happening in this region, including contested territory or maritime zone issues. Hopefully, we will find ways to help each other, especially with international organizations. And last but not least, this is the right time to speak about the common values because we believe in peace, we believe in democracy, and we believe in multilateralism. It is important for both countries.

Question: Who will you meet in Indonesia?

Answer: I will meet the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and my colleague in the parliament because I’m also from the parliament. It would be fantastic to visit them to know how parliamentarians follow the situation and their concerns and point of view.

Question: Could you please brief us the state of bilateral relations of the Slovak Republic and Indonesia? Also, what other potential areas of cooperation between the two countries?

Answer: We have some suggestions, for instance, in the security industry, the defense industry, as Slovakia is well-known for its Czechoslovakia defense history. And not only that, we are trying to work hard on cyber security issue as it is significant for our economy, our diplomacy. We want to promote green transition and new technology which will bring our countries to the 21st century.

Indonesia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar (right) meets his Slovak counterpart State Secretary at the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry Martin Klus (center) at the Foreign Affairs Ministry building in Jakarta on Thursday, April 21, 2022. Also present was Slovakia's Ambassador to Indonesia Jaroslav Chlebo (left). The Slovak State Secretary at the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry is on his three-day official visit to Indonesia from April 20-23, 2022.  
Dok. KBRI Bratislava Indonesia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar (right) meets his Slovak counterpart State Secretary at the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry Martin Klus (center) at the Foreign Affairs Ministry building in Jakarta on Thursday, April 21, 2022. Also present was Slovakia's Ambassador to Indonesia Jaroslav Chlebo (left). The Slovak State Secretary at the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry is on his three-day official visit to Indonesia from April 20-23, 2022.

Question: What’s the update on the plan to sign an MoU on Defense between both countries?

Answer: My colleague at the Ministry of Defense visited Indonesia recently. As far as I know they are on track to finalizing the document. There are also some very concrete proposals for cooperation in the private sector. Hopefully, some joint ventures to promote the Slovakian and Indonesian defense and security industry. As I said, there are companies seeking this market and I’m sure it will be a win-win situation if they promote their business activities in Indonesia. It also includes cyber security, an important field in Slovakia besides the green transition, and some new technologies in the green industry.

Question: Your Excellency, moving on to another topic. As the chair of G20 this year, Indonesia focuses on three main issues: global health architecture, digital and economic transformation, and energy transition. With Slovakia is part of the European Union, how’s the commitment of the bloc to help developing countries in the energy transition and in reducing carbon emissions?

Answer: One of the main reasons why I’m visiting Indonesia is that Indonesia is chairing the G20, while Slovakia will chair the Visegrad cooperation and Slavkov cooperation as of July 1. Our colleagues in the Czech Republic will take over the rotating EU Council presidency. This is why we need to cover some of the topics we have in common. The EU is now promoting the digital transition and energy security as the highest priority. I’m sure this will be discussed with Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the parliament.


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In 2020, the EU decided to offer member countries million of Euros for such a transition. So, now it’s important to think what should be the most efficient way how to invest this money and if possible it should not be only for the Europeans but also a global goal we have to reach together. I’m happy that the G20 countries are dealing with these topics. But it should not touch on these topics only. I believe we have to speak about the values as well. We are following very closely what should be the future of Russia in the G20 after what has happened in Ukraine. We try to express our views on what should be done in G20 after Russia violated international law.

Question: Still on the sustainable energy issue, what are the best practices in the sustainable energy and digital technology programs that Indonesia can learn from Slovakia and the EU?

Answer: We are now trying to promote new programs in collaboration with our universities. The digital transition is inevitable to cover world society. Our universities will be a good partner in digital technology. I’m here to promote some of these universities. I hope young people from Indonesia will visit Slovakia for short or long-term studies and some researches. Besides, we are quite a successful in waste management technology. For instance, plastic is a huge problem not only in Asia but also in Europe. I’m happy that this process is now one of the highest levels in my country. It’s about good practices, possibilities to share experiences and I’m sure that some of our companies are working hard in this field and should be very active in this part of the world.

Questions: Perhaps, it’s a tough time for Indonesia as the chair of the G20. While the world is still coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, countries are shocked by the Russia-Ukraine war. Russian authorities were accused of war crimes in violation of international law. What’s the stance of your country and as part of the EU and the NATO what has been done and will be done to maintain peace and security globally?

Answer: I have to say that it is a tragic situation to follow what is happening in our neighboring country. Ukrainians are very close friends to us. We have a similar culture and a similar language. So, for us, it is even more sensitive. Some 360,000 people already arrived in Slovakia from Ukraine. Of this number, 70,000 are seeking asylum or so-called temporary shelters. It’s a tragic situation, especially for children, women, and the elderly. This is changing our society, too. I’m very proud to say that we have already shown our solidarity and our citizens are voluntarily helping them and all of us are heavily affected. It also affected the economy because the interdependency of European countries, including my country on Russian oil and gas, nuclear fuel, coal, and iron is quite high.

The EU already introduced its fifth package of sanctions on Russia, I would rather call them special economic cooperation because this is what Mr. Putin [Russia’s President] should understand better. We are not happy about that because affecting our citizens. And this is also affecting the Russians. As Russia is a powerhouse of nuclear power, that is the only way to push them to change their behavior. We can’t use a military solution on this issue.

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We are ready to cooperate with Indonesia and other countries in this region at the United Nations level and discuss how we can change some policies on this particular concern as the peacemaker.

Question: So, the Slovak Republic has also provided humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainians.

Answer: Yes, we have already provided quite a lot of humanitarian assistance. Besides, we have also provided equipment to the Ukrainian military, starting from small defense equipment. Now the situation has changed, there is a discussion with our EU partners, the US, the NATO on the possibility to provide other kind of equipment.

Question: What do you hope to see in Indonesia’s G20 presidency in terms of concrete actions in the economic sector and the acceleration of sustainable energy?

Answer: Of course, Indonesia G20’s presidency should help us promote universal values of global trade, human rights, and many other important topics for both of our countries as done in multilateralism and international organizations rules which we all believe that should bring prosperity to the world. We are ready to help as much as we can.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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