Indonesia committed to Pacific, says ambassador

Indonesia's new ambassador to New Zealand says issues of importance to Pacific Island countries are his country's concerns too.

According to Tantowi Yahya, Indonesia, with its significant Melanesian population, considers itself part of the Pacific region.

He said that like Australia and New Zealand, Indonesia was interested in helping prosperity, democracy and human development in the Pacific.

Pacific Islands states, Ambassador Tantowi explained, could expect ongoing help from Indonesia on the big issues confronting them.

"Climate change has been a great issue, right. We are trying to help. There will be some co-operations with Indonesia in those countries on that issue, and also capacity building," he said.

We have more or less the same cultureTantowi Yahya

The ambassador emphasised the commonalities between Indonesia and countries across the Pacific Islands region.

"We eat more or less the same food with the people in Samoa, in Vanuatu, in Solomon Islands; we drink more or less the same thing; and we have more or less the same culture. So that shows the brotherhood."

While there is strong grassroots support in Pacific Island countries for West Papuans, Ambassador Tantowi said the indigenous population of Papua region was not pushing for independence.

The push for a self-determination referendum, he suggested, has been made from overseas-based elements who did not represent the local populace.


Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins Indonesia's Ambassador to New Zealand, Tantowi Yahya