Membership Application of Separatist Group Reaches a Dead End

Port Moresby, 15 February 2018 – “At the 21st MSG Summit in Port Moresby, the application of a West Papua separatist group again reaches a dead end. For whatever reasons, it is clear that there is no place for separatist group.” Desra Percaya the Director General for Asia Pacific and African Affairs of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of the Indonesian delegation stated.

This is not the first time the group attempted to upgrade its status in the MSG. At the Group’s Special Summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands in 2016, the separatist group failed to change its status.

At this year’s Summit, the majority of the MSG Leaders questioned the appropriateness and relevancy of upgrading the status of this separatist group in the Melanesian grouping.

The Leaders’ Retreat discussion agreed on a revised membership guidelines but returned the ULMWP’s application back to the MSG Secretariat. The Leaders instructed the Secretariat to explore and draft the details of the criteria for the membership.

With that development, further discussion is needed on the substance of the membership criteria, and applying the proper mechanism of reviewing membership application which must be through the Secretariat, and must be recommended by senior officials to ministers before tabling any applications to leaders.

The Agreement Establishing the MSG, which was revised in 2015, stipulated that members must respect the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of states.

The decision by the MSG is based on consensus. There are solid commitment and support by the majority of the members for Indonesia’s position. In addition, the majority of members are committed to honor and respect the principles and objectives of the MSG, in particular that of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.

Based on those facts, the membership application of the separatist group will always reach a dead end and will not succeed.

“The result of the 2015 MSG Summit clearly stipulates that the separatist group as one of the observers, is only representing a small group of West Papuan individuals living abroad.” Added Desra Percaya.

“The statement of the separatist group claiming to represent the people of West Papua in the MSG is unfair for the 3.9 people of the Papua and West Papua provinces.”

Desra Percaya further said that “More than two million West Papuan voters have been exercising their democratic rights through internationally free and fair elections. The aspiration of West Papuans is channeled through the open democracy system in place in Indonesia.”

In its global survey in 2018, the highly respected Freedom House found that the elections in Indonesia, including in West Papua, are free and fair.

Desra Percaya added “As with other provinces in Indonesia, communities in Papua and West Papua provinces are politically free. The freedom of democracy, managing budget and development is internationally recognized.”

“At this 21st Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Summit, Indonesia has expressed its commitment to be a strong partner for MSG member countries in realizing the MSG 2038 Prosperity for All vision, a 25-year plan for improving the welfare of communities in the sub-region of Melanesia.”

“Indonesia reaffirms its commitment to promote development, improving the welfare and security of the Melanesian sub-region under the leadership of Papua New Guinea at Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG),” Desra Percaya said.

The MSG leaders agreed with Desra that it is important for MSG to focus on the common objectives of achieving prosperity, sustainable development, good governance and security. It would be detrimental if the attention of MSG is distracted by issues that are not relevant to those purposes.

MSG is an organization, consisting of countries in the sub-region of Melanesia, namely Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS of New Caledonia.

Indonesia was granted the Associate Member Status at the 20th MSG Leaders’ Summit in Honiara, in 2015, during Solomon Islands’ chairmanship.

The 21st MSG Leaders’ Summit was concluded with the visit to the PNG’s Parliament and APEC Haus, on 15 February 2018, as part of the preparation for PNG’s chairmanship in APEC 2018.

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