JAKARTA: Indonesia is standing at the “peak” of global leadership, President Joko Widodo said in his annual state address on Tuesday, as he hailed the country’s growing stature amid efforts to bridge peace between Russia and Ukraine, and the nation heading several world multilateral bodies.
Widodo traveled to Kyiv and Moscow in late June to meet his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts, Volodymyr Zelensky and Vladimir Putin, in a diplomatic effort to help ease the ongoing war’s impact on the international community.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s breadbaskets, has delivered shockwaves to global supply chains and also stoked an energy crisis following international sanctions slapped on Moscow — a major oil and gas producer — which has also led to rising inflation in many countries.
Widodo was the first Asian leader to meet both Zelensky and Putin since the beginning of the invasion in late February.
“Indonesia was accepted by Russia and Ukraine as a bridge of peace. Accepted by big countries, even when the geopolitical (situation) is heated,” Widodo said in parliament, a day ahead of the country’s celebrations of 77 years of independence.
The visit came as the Southeast Asian nation — which has refused to impose sanctions on Moscow — is chairing the Group of 20 biggest economies this year and will host the grouping’s summit in November. Widodo is one of six world leaders selected as “champions” of the UN’s Global Crisis Response Group. Next year, Indonesia will hold the rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“In 2022, we hold the presidency of the G20, an international forum made up of the world’s largest economies. Next year, we will assume the chairmanship of ASEAN,” Widodo said. “This indicates that we are at the peak of global leadership.”
The president added that the international community’s trust in Indonesia has “increased sharply,” which in turn gave the country a big opportunity to build global partnerships.
With its population of 280 million, Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest economies, posting consistent annual growth of around 6 percent.
Its global leadership claim is, however, seen as intended mainly for Indonesians themselves.
“The claim is for (a) domestic audience,” Muhammad Waffaa Kharisma, researcher at the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Arab News.
He added that although Indonesia “has always seen itself as a big nation, capable of punching above its weight and (to) be amongst the bigger nations,” and that its role at the G20 and in ASEAN next year are “very valuable,” the country still “has to make a difference to bring value and to earn the tag of being a world leader.”
“Whether the trip (to Kyiv and Moscow) makes a difference is a bit debatable in the global context,” Kharisma said.
For Teuku Rezasyah, an international relations expert from Padjajaran University in West Java, the global leadership claim does not immediately “mean the ability to do so.”
With its traditions of neutrality and non-alignment, “for a world in conflict, Indonesia can be a source of inspiration,” he said. “We are always ready to be involved in efforts to achieve global peace.”