Indonesian Government plans to expand diplomatic efforts on West Papua in the Pacific Region

The current Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, General Wiranto, plans to intensify diplomatic efforts in the Pacific region to address the misrepresentation of many Pacific states regarding the situation in West Papua. Accoding to Wiranto, many Pacific countries received misinformation about Indonesia's attitude towards West Papua. "So far we have forgotten, that there are many countries there which can endanger our souvereignty over Papua", stated Wiranto in an interview with the Indonesian news outlet KOMPAS.

On 5 September 2018 he proposed a budget of 60 billion rupiah (almost 3.5 million Euros) for diplomacy costs related to the West Papua issue in attempt to quell the sympathies for the independence movement among many Pacific Island states. Throughout the past four years, Pacific countries like the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu have expressed concern over human rights conditions in Indonesia’s easternmost provinces Papua and West Papua during UN General Assemblies and general debate sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.

The budget of Rp 60 billion proposed by Wiranto was divided into five coordination activities posts, namely increasing the image of Papua (Rp. 20 billion), increasing Indonesia's cooperation with the South Pacific (Rp. 15 billion), increasing cooperation in the South Pacific international organization (Rp. 15 billion), increasing security in the border area to Australia and the South Pacific (Rp. 5 billion) and increasing cooperation in the security intelligence sector on the border regions to Australia and the South Pacific region (Rp. 5 billion).

Wiroanto’s plans are far from new. The Indonesian Government has recently taken efforts to boost relations with several Micronesian states to increase influence in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). In July 2018, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) visited President Joko Widodo in Jakarta. In April a delegation from the Melanesian state of Solomon Islands was invited to tour Indonesia’s West Papua and Papua provinces. The visit appeared to have encouraged the pacific state’s government to reconsider its policy toward West Papua. In February 2018, an Indonesian cabinet minister accompanied by a Papuan band came to Nauru for the island’s 50th anniversary of independence. As result, Nauru and Tuvalu have recently expressed support for Jakarta’s development programs in West Papua.