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Press conference by Indonesia's Foreign Minister

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Speaking to reporters at Headquarters today, Indonesia's newly appointed Foreign Minister, Marty M. Natalegawa, pledged his Government's commitment to working with other nations over the coming year to hammer out a legally binding deal to curb heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions and help developing countries tackle the effects of climate change.

Just back from the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, Mr. Natalegawa said that while "difficult" negotiations at that two-week conference had not delivered a legally binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol, Indonesia was "not unhappy with the outcome" and, in fact, was quite encouraged by what had ultimately been agreed.

Acknowledging lowered expectations heading into the talks, he said Indonesia had nevertheless worked to ensure that the so-called "Copenhagen Accord" reflected some of the principles of the 2007 Bali Road Map, by which nations had expressed a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a goal for global emission reductions, through 2012 -- the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment phase -- and beyond.

Mr. Natalegawa, who was formerly Indonesia's Ambassador to the United Nations, said there had been some movement in Copenhagen on several of his Government's priority issues, including the "clear and uncompromised stand" on limiting rise in global temperatures to 2° C by 2020; clear signs that developed countries would take a lead role in that effort; concrete delivery on financing, including launch of an adaptation fund; signals from developing countries that they were prepared to take measures to follow low-carbon development paths; monitoring and verification mechanisms; and forest issues.

"Though the outcome was not what as all might have wished, there is a sound launch pad for 2010," he said, adding that all nations needed to work extremely diligently so that a binding agreement could be reached next year.

Asked to outline the negotiating position of Asian countries going forward, he said: "Well, this is one of the key challenges. What will make 2010 different from the years [since Bali]?" What Asian countries wished to see was fresh momentum and a willingness to "think outside the box". Indeed, 2010 must not be a "redo of the past, lest we find ourselves in the same spot as we did this year".

He stressed that, while progress in Copenhagen had been spurred by the parallel talks among a small group of countries, the ultimate decision must be taken with input from all 192 Member States. Among the Asian Group, India and China were significant players in setting the course of future climate talks. Indonesia had injected momentum into the region's efforts when it had announced plans to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent by 2020 from "business as usual" levels.

"If we get it right among ourselves, it could contribute significantly to [the overall debate]," Mr. Natalegawa said. Moreover, while India, China and the United States had key roles to play, other, smaller countries could still take concrete steps to cut their own emissions. "We definitely need concrete movement and qualitative decisions on climate change in 2010," he said.

Asked to comment on the characterization of the Copenhagen Accord by Sudan, in its capacity as Chair of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, as the "worst deal in history", Mr. Natalegawa said it was virtually impossible for a bloc of countries as diverse as the "G-77" to speak in one voice, especially on an issue like climate change. At the same time, many developing countries had concerns about the agreement, and others had wished the Conference had adopted, rather than "taken note" of it. Still, he believed there was no greater issue for humankind to rally around, and he looked forward to working towards enhancing the role of the Group of 77 in coming climate negotiations.

Wrapping up the press conference answering questions on several regional issues, he said his Government was closely following events in Indonesia's eastern most Papua province. While the United Nations had no official role to play in the matter, there were governance, development and human rights issues that needed to be addressed there. Indonesia would engage the United Nations as it saw fit, and looked forward to working with partners to address issues in that province.

On Myanmar, he said 2010 would be a "pivotal year" for that country, especially as the Government there had announced elections. The best way to proceed was to have honest expectations about the realities, while working for progress on all fronts. The situation in Myanmar was a key concern, as that country was part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) family, and he hoped the opportunity provided by the elections would not be missed. He added that, while the elections were critical, long-term development and other issues needed to be addressed. "We all wish to be a part of the solution in Myanmar [...] the time for posturing is past," he said, expressing hope that the United Nations would play a vital role.

To a correspondent's question regarding the imposition of Sharia law in parts of Indonesia, he said that his country was home to the world's largest Muslim population. Yet, the Government had rejected the idea of it being an "Islamic State"; Indonesia promoted tolerance and the acceptance of all religions "and takes pride in that".

Indeed, Indonesia saw itself as country where democracy, Islam and modernity went hand in hand. At the same time, he was aware of some local or regional by-laws, such as in Aceh, where Sharia had been introduced. Yet, such laws were currently being examined in light of the national Constitution. And while the situation in Aceh was unique, because of that region's autonomy, Indonesia was looking into the matter and would remain steadfast in its support of all religions, tolerance and democracy.

For information media - not an official record