ICJ ruling `could inspire RI separatists'

ICJ ruling `could inspire RI separatists'
, 27 July 2010

Indonesia's territorial sovereignty could be under threat, following a recent ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found that Kosovo's unilateral secession from Serbia did not violate international law, legislators say.

However, the government has said otherwise.

"Will *the ruling* inspire separatist movements in other countries *including in Indonesia*? The answer is yes," Golkar legislator Tantowi Yahya of House of Representatives' Commission I overseeing communications military and international affairs and, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

"But separatist movements in Papua and Aceh *provinces*, for instance, are different from that in Kosovo in terms of historical backgrounds," he said.

Tantowi said how the Indonesian government dealt with separatists was also different to the Serbian government's methods.

The Indonesian government approached separatist groups through welfare programs, he said, instead of using military force.

The commission's Ahmad Muzani from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) lawmaker echoed Tantowi's sentiments.

"With or without the international court's ruling, the threat of separatist movements in Aceh and Papua is already established," Muzani told the Post.

"With the international court handing down such a ruling, it may indeed inspire separatists."

He said the Indonesian government, in particular the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry, needed to take immediate measures because it had not yet completely resolved problems in Papua, for example, with Jakarta refusing to enter serious dialogue with separatists.

According to Muzani, Jakarta perceives that Papua is trying to gain independence because the Papuan people never see benefits from the Rp 7 trillion (US$777 million) to Rp 8 trillion the central government gives annually to the Papua and West Papua administrations as a share of the provinces' natural resources.

"The money falls, not to the people, but to local administration officials," he said.

"Jakarta has once again failed."

In contrast with legislators, Defense Ministry spokesman I Wayan Midhio said there would be no growing separatist movements affected by the ruling.

"A country's sovereignty and integrity is part of its national interest and a country is obliged to improve its people's welfare," he told the Post.

"When that obligation is missed, separatist movements will rise."

Moreover, he said, the government had secured Indonesians' welfare in all regions through the delegation of power as mandated by the 2004 Regional Autonomy Law.

In response to the ruling, Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said the government would look further into it before making any decisions.

"For the record, the ICJ's ruling was not unanimous and there was dissenting opinion," he told the Post.

"*The ruling* was more of a procedural matter and cannot be defined as a recognition of the freedom *of Kosovo legally*."

In Thursday's 9-5 non-binding ruling on the 2008 secession, the international court said it considered "that general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declaration of independence," Reuters reported.

Diplomats at the UN said the ruling underscored the clash between two cardinal principles dear to rank-and-file UN member states: self-determination, in this case for Kosovo's majority Albanians, and territorial integrity, in this case, Serbia's.

From the outset, Kosovo's international recognition has caused division among the UN's 192 member nations. Sixty-nine, including the US and many of its allies, have done so but the rest have not, with many waiting for the World Court's verdict.