A number of United Nations member states in the South Pacific have thrown their support behind Indonesia for its effort to develop the Papua and West Papua provinces and maintain its territorial integrity.
The support was aired when Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto visited Nauru to attend its 50th Independence Day ceremony, during which he also conducted separate talks with several South-Pacific leaders.
Wiranto’s four-day visit to Nauru came amid Indonesia’s efforts to convince South Pacific countries to support its campaign to be a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) in the 2019 to 2020 period.
Speaking after a meeting with Wiranto at Government House on Wednesday, Nauruan President Baron Divavesi Waqa said his country believed Indonesia was committed to improving the lives of Papuans.
“We, the people of Nauru, will always consider Indonesia as a good friend. We understand the Indonesian government’s efforts to realize development in Papua and West Papua,” Waqa said as quoted in a statement released by Wiranto’s office.
Wiranto was visiting Nauru in place of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, whom Waqa invited when the two met during the 10th Bali Democracy Forum in December. Prior to his meeting with Waqa, Wiranto met with Vanuatuan President Tallis Obed Moses and Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga on Tuesday. On those occasions, Wiranto said he told them about Jokowi administration’s efforts improve the lives of people in the two provinces.
“We also invited the countries’ leaders to visit and see the conditions of Papua and West Papua, which I suppose will change the perception made by others who claim that [Indonesia] neglects Papua and West Papua,” Wiranto said.
Nauru, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu were among seven Pacific islands countries that had raised strong concerns about Papua, including human rights violations, during the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York in 2016.
Meanwhile, Sopoaga said the Tuvaluan government would not try to interfere in Indonesian affairs.
“We have highly regard human rights principles, including cultural rights. However, Tuvalu is not in a position to intervene in this problem,” Sopoaga said.
The Indonesian delegation had brought along a band called “Papua Original” that performed several Papuan-themed songs during a cultural event on Tuesday. Wiranto said the band demonstrated that Indonesia and the Pacific countries shared similar cultures.
“This mission should be able to improve relations between Indonesia and other Pacific nations because in the past we did not have much chance to be in touch with them,” Wiranto said.