ASEAN Centre in MGIMO-University the MFA of Russia


Son of a Carpenter to Lead Indonesia


Joko Widodo, Indonesia’s new president took over as the head of the largest Muslim state in the world. Tens of thousands of people rushed to the streets of Jakarta to celebrate his meteoric rise to power from the son of a carpenter to one of the global leaders. Attending inauguration ceremony, US State Secretary John Kerry pledged for Asian support in fight against Islamic State militants.

Studio guest Victor Mizin, Deputy Director of the Russian Institute of Strategic Assessment, Jouhari Oratmangun, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Moscow, and Ekaterina Koldunova, Associate Professor, senior expert of ASEAN Center, from MGIMO University, Moscow, Russia, shared their opinions with Radio VR.

Can we say that what we see in Asia is a new generation of leaders coming? Look in India – Narendra Modi, also a complete surprise.

Victor Mizin: I think it is the trend not just in Asia, but in the entire so-called third world. And what we see here, again, like with the imposed sanctions and the return of the Cold War between Russia and the EU, it is once again a blast from the past and we are like thrown back into the 1960’es when on the wave of decolonization the new leaders, like Fidel Castro, Kwame Nkrumah and Lumumba were coming to power in developing countries.

And here we see the tendency. You’ve mentioned India. In Latin America, in many countries, from Venezuela to Brazil, we see the new quality, the new type of leaders, whom one may call populist. But I think that those leaders are the expression of the largely shared dissatisfaction with the results of globalization, with what they call the dictatorship of the US and other industrial nations in many developing countries. And maybe we see here the opening of a new quality of international relations. And I think it is very interesting.

And what is very important for us is that Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in Asia. And it is a very friendly state for Russia. So, what we will see in the future, it would be something like a tag of war, a fight for the hearts and minds of Indonesians, at least between the West and those forces which are against the forced globalization and which are for the more democratic international relations.

To what extent do you think Indonesia would be able to follow an independent policy and, probably, emerge as one of the major players in G20 which is trying to change the current economic world order which is based on the dominance of the Western institutions?

Ekaterina Koldunova: I"m not pretty much sure that Indonesia will be among those players, who will be pushing forward any alternative vision, as well as other major rising powers in G20. I think what will be really going on is that these countries, Indonesia included, but also India, Russia, probably China, they would like to see a more just international system, including more just relations within the world financial institutions.

As for Indonesia itself, I think that under the new President Joko Widodo will be trying to keep a more or less independent stance in the international affairs. And the G20 and the regional institutions will be one of the instruments though which Indonesia can implement this goal, at least partly, but not alone, of course. It will need a good network of relations with the other G20 rising powers.

The US has been trying to engage Indonesia as much as possible, to upgrade the level of relations with it. Indonesia was among the first countries that Mr. Obama has paid a visit to in the initial years of his presidency. But still, I think that Indonesia and ASEAN were quite handy in managing this external pressure for decades. Of course, the current moment is a really hard one, but my feeling is that Indonesia will not be moving towards more dependence on only one major player.

You just came back from Indonesia and you personally met Joko Widodo. What kind of leader is he?

Jouhari Oratmangun: He is very popular and he is determined to bring Indonesia forward in the years to come.

From your point of view, if the US would put pressure on Indonesia asking it not to cooperate with Russia, do you think that Indonesia would be able not to follow that advice?

Jouhari Oratmangun: I don’t think the US will put pressure on us. No one could put pressure on us. For us Russia is a very important country, as well as the US. And the new President will of course continue the free and active foreign policy of Indonesia. Within this context we have the East Asia summit initiated by Indonesia, and we are going to invite the leaders of Russia and the US there.

As Indonesia’s Ambassador to Moscow, what potential do you see for our bilateral relations?

Jouhari Oratmangun: We have a very great potential. Looking at the relationship between the two countries, usually I"m talking of the three pillars. In politics and security we have a very good relationship. The other one is the socio-cultural. A lot of Indonesian students are coming here and a lot of Russians are coming to Indonesia. The third, which is the priority now, is the economic and trade cooperation. Our trade volume has already reached $3.4 billion and we are working for the $5 billion target by 2015. So, that’s the priority and the potential is there.

RIA Novosti