via Video Conference, 9 September 2020

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Colleagues,

Today…  EAS Foreign Ministers meet for the first time since the break of Covid-19.

During this pandemic… we have witnessed strategic geopolitical shifts… that affect peace, stability, and prosperity in East Asia.

Signs of increasing tensions are worrying .

Rivalries between major powers continue to intensify on many fronts.

For far too often… smaller  countries find themselves trapped in the middle… and forced to take sides.

At  the  same  time…  more  countries  are  resorting  to  unilateralism…  and undermining international law… in their pursuit of national interest.

Tension  and  distrust  are  hardly  recipes  for  international  cooperation  in  the region… including against the pandemic.

I would like to raise three points:

FIRST… the EAS must serve as a positive force for peace and stability in the region.

Last  month…  the  ASEAN  Foreign  Ministers  issued  a  joint  statement… underlining  the  importance  of  principles  embedded  in  ZOPFAN  and  TAC… amidst current geopolitical dynamics.

I call upon EAS partners to reaffirm their commitment to wards the  respect for international law…  renunciation of the threat or use  of force… and peaceful settlement of disputes.

Rivalry will not benefit no one.

Let  us  focus  our  energy  instead  on  forging  closer  and  mutually  beneficial cooperation in the region… with ASEAN as the driving force…  in line with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

The  EAS  would  serve  as  an  important  platform  for  strategic  dialogue…  to understand one another’s interest and concerns… and work on solutions.

SECOND…  the  EAS  must  contribute  to  the  strengthening  of  regional health resilience.

In the short term…  this translates into ensuring equitable and affordable access to vaccines… for our region.

Vaccine could be the turning point in our battle against this pandemic.

Many EAS countries are taking part in the development of COVID-19 vaccine… doors for cooperation should be widely opened.

In the long run… we could consider a network of disease control bodies in the EAS countries… to increase the health security in our region.

Indonesia  will  convene  the  EAS  Health  Experts  Meeting  next  month…  to identify more practical cooperation against the pandemic.

My last point… on the South China Sea issue, Indonesia urges all countries to  respect  universally  recognized  principles  of  international  law,  including upholding Unclos 1982 in the South China Sea.

By respecting international law  we will see a peaceful and stable South China Sea


Entering its 15th anniversary… the EAS must remain relevant and effective… in responding to the rapidly evolving regional and global challenges.

Thank you.