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Editorial (784)

13
August

 

Seventy economists and international experts are urging the US government and other countries to get out the assets of Afghanistan's central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank. The insistence was stated in a letter sent to United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday (10/8).

As quoted from Republika.com (11/08), the international economists said that the Afghan assets worth US$9 billion need to be returned to stimulate the country's economy. They argue that Afghanistan has experienced a humanitarian crisis that has made the people suffer severely. To mitigate that and set the Afghan economy on a path to recovery, economists urged the United States to allow Afghanistan's central bank to recover its international reserves.

Since August 2021, when the Taliban took over and foreign troops withdrew from the country, the United States has frozen nearly US$9.5 billion in assets belonging to Afghanistan's central bank; most of which is in Federal Reserve accounts,  New York and US-based financial institutions. The freezing of Afghanistan's foreign exchange reserves abroad has caused  a shortage of funds and cash in the country.

This has become one of the triggers for worsening the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. In May 2022, as quoted from IDN Times (04/5/2022), there were 24 million Afghans in dire need of humanitarian assistance. This figure increased by 5.6 million people when compared to the previous year. About 70 percent of households in Afghanistan are reported to be unable to meet their basic daily needs.

Seeing the increasingly worrisome condition of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, efforts to overcome the problems in this country are urgently needed at this time. One way is to return funds or assets of the Da Afghanistan Bank held in the accounts of the New York Federal Reserve and US-based financial institutions, as economists call. However, it seems that the international community, including the United States, is still reluctant to grant this.

It is the hard-line policies of the Taliban government that are likely to make the United States and the international community still reluctant to disburse funds from Afghanistan's central bank assets that are very much needed by the country.

If that's the case, the Taliban government should live up to its commitment to respecting human rights and women's rights when they took over Afghanistan last year. They do not have to rule their country as they did during the reign in the 1996-2001 period which was full of restrictions. (VOI)

05
August

Banners and other promotional media that read “Recover Faster, Rise Stronger” have been seen in public places in Indonesia. That is the theme of the 77th anniversary of the Republic of Indonesia. The atmosphere of Indonesia's Independence Day Commemoration has become increasingly felt.

The atmosphere of Independence Day in 2020 and 2021 might not appear so much. Indonesia has a tradition to celebrate Independence Day on August 17th. Every year, the excitement of the anniversary is felt as soon as August begins.

The Indonesian people should apply the slogan to commemorate Indonesian Independence this year in every activity. One of them is self-discipline in carrying out health protocols, including hastening to get booster vaccinations. Because, it is one way for the Indonesian nation to quickly recover from Covid-19.

The Indonesian nation is known as a nation that likes to work together. That spirit must be inflamed to be able to rise stronger. Micro, small and medium enterprises -MSMEs are the ones that must recover and rise in order to compete in the domestic and global markets. Undeniably, domestic products for micro, small and medium enterprises still compete with imported ones. Cooperation among ministries, local governments, banking institutions, market places and all business actors must be further enhanced and strengthened so that Indonesian MSMEs rise stronger. The love of the Indonesian people for the nation's products is realized by not only echoing ‘Proud of Indonesian-made Products’, but also buying, using, and participating in promoting MSMEs’ products so that MSMEs Rise Stronger.

Indeed, the world today is not in a good condition. As stated by President Joko Widodo at the National Dzikir event in the front yard of the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, Monday evening (1/8), he reminded, after almost two and a half years in the world, all countries are experiencing pain together because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Indonesia cannot wait for the world to be in a good condition to rise. With the spirit of Recovering Faster, Rising Stronger, joint efforts in mutual cooperation, God willing, Indonesia will soon shake off  from the pandemic and have a better economic recovery. Thus, Indonesia can do more for countries that are still in trouble. (VOI)

05
August

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Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers open fire at each other in the Nagorno-Karabakh region on Wednesday (3/8), resulting in at least three soldiers being killed. Both countries are actually still bound by a ceasefire agreement. However, they have accused each other of violating the ceasefire in the disputed area. Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense said that Karabakh troops targeted Azerbaijani army posts in the Lachin region which are under the supervision of Russian peacekeepers. As a result of this attack, one Azerbaijani conscript was killed. Meanwhile, according to the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the bloody incident that occurred shows that Armenia is not honoring the ceasefire agreement. In contrast, the army in Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire and killing two soldiers and wounding 14 others.


The Azerbaijani army said that it carried out an operation dubbed "Retaliation" in response to the terrorist act of an illegal Armenian armed group in Azerbaijani territory that claimed the life of a conscripted soldier.

Previously, Armenia-Azerbaijan had also been involved in a war in the autumn of 2020. The war that lasted for six weeks killed more than 6,500 people, and ended in a ceasefire initiated by Russia.

To avoid a wider conflict, the European Union has called for an immediate end to hostilities between the two countries and both sides must respect the ceasefire.
Apart from the European Union, the United States has also expressed its condolences and concerns over what happened. US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price confirmed that he was closely following reports of intense fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh, including casualties and injuries.
In addition, the Washington side urged steps to immediately reduce tensions and avoid further escalation. Azerbaijan and Armenia have suffered heavy losses, both material and non-material, as a result of war. Thus, it is appropriate for the two warring parties to refrain from actions that can trigger open war. (VOI)

05
August

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The Indonesian Embassy (KBRI) in Sarajevo has encouraged the improvement of trade and tourism cooperation between Indonesia-Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Indonesian Weekend 2022 event.

The Indonesian Embassy in Sarajevo in a written statement received in Jakarta, on Tuesday (02/8) stated that the effort is a contribution to improving economic conditions after the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries.

Indonezijski Vikend 2022 or Indonesian Weekend 2022 to be held on 29 and 30 July 2022 in the courtyard of BBI Centar, Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina.

The festival, which was held for the first time in the city of Sarajevo, brought a complete sensation of experience of Indonesia to Sarajevo residents through culinary, coffee products and Indomie, traditional Indonesian massage body treatments dance performances, and angklung ensemble music performances.

The event, which was officially opened by the Indonesian Ambassador, Roem Kono, and the Mayor of Sarajevo, Benjamina Karic, provided an opportunity for visitors to participate in, many traditional games such as clogs, marble spoon racing,pencil-in-bottle competitions, and dancing for chairs.

Completing the activities at the location, visitors were also entertained with various artistic performances featuring arts from some regions in Indonesia, ranging from West Java angklung music, Sekar Jagad dance from Bali, Indang dance from West Sumatra as well as Poco-Poco dance from North Sulawesi.

The Indonesian Weekend 2022 event is also a place to exhibit Indonesia's excellent export products to the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina particularly entrepreneurs and business people in the city of Sarajevo.

Furthermore, the Indonesian Embassy in Sarajevo also uses this Indonesian Weekend 2022 activity to further inform Indonesia's progress in 2022 serving as the G20 Presidency. G20 is a global policy coordination forum that aims at achieving strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive global growth. (VOI)

26
July

 

President Joko Widodo last Monday (25/7) left for Beijing for a visit to three countries: China, Japan and South Korea. On July 26, 2022, he visits Beijing, while to Tokyo July 27, and to Seoul July 28. In China, President Joko Widodo meetPremier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping. In Japan, he will meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Meanwhile in South Korea, President Joko Widodo will meet President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Previously, Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi explained that the focus of President Joko Widodo's visit is to discuss strengthening economic cooperation, particularly in the fields of trade and investment. In addition, the latest developments in several regional and international issues will be discussed.

Chinese political observer, Tang Qifang, quoted by kompas.comconsidered that President Joko Widodo's visit to his country reflects the neutral stance of the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), towards China and the United States. He predicts that this visit will not only encourage increased bilateral trade and economic cooperation between China-Indonesia and China-ASEAN, but also promote peace and global development. Indonesia's neutral stance is reflected in the visit of the Indonesian President not only to China, but also to Japan and South Korea, countries that have been allies of the United States.

Another thing that also shows Indonesia's neutral stance is that the day before President Joko Widodo left for Beijing, the US Military Joint Chief of Staff, Mark A. Milley, visited Indonesia. He was received by Chief of Indonesian Armed Forces, General Andika Perkasa at the TNI Headquarters Plaza, in Cilangkap, Jakarta. According to the TNI Headquarters’ statement, the visit of the US Commander Armed Forces is aimed at building military cooperation. Indonesia's stance that builds partnerships with any country based on the principle of free and active politics can indeed encourage the creation of stability both regionally and globally.

22
July

 

Sri Lanka's Parliament elected Ranil Wickremesinghe as president of Sri Lanka on Wednesday (20/7/2022). He was sworn in on Thursday 21/7), replacing Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Previously, Ranil Wickremesinghe had been the country's prime minister for six times. He even served as Acting President of Sri Lanka when Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives and Singapore on Wednesday (13/7) last week.

He took the oath of office before presiding judge Jayantha Jayasuriya in the heavily fortified parliament complex. In the vote count, Ranil Wickremesinghe received 134 votes, while his main rival, Dullas Alahapperuma, received 82 votes. Sri Lanka's third presidential candidate, Anura Kumara Dissanayake only bagged three votes from his own party.

Ranil Wickremesinghe's victory in parliament came thanks to the support of many people in the main Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, which is dominated by the Rajapaksa family. Wickremesinghe will complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa's term which ends in 2024.

Wickremesinghe was chosen amid anger from protesters who have demanded he leat his post as prime minister for weeks. Quoted from Al Jazeera, the election of Ranil Wickremesinghe as President of Sri Lanka is predicted to trigger more protests in the crisis-hit country.

Earlier this month, protesters torched Wickremesinghe's private residence and seized control of the presidential palace in a bid to topple the government and end the chaos that has plagued Sri Lanka since March. The protesters appeared to have scored a victory when Rajapaksa fled and Wickremesinghe, then prime minister, vowed to step down to pave the way for a unity government.

However, the reality was reversed, in the parliamentary elections Wickremesinghe managed to garner more votes far ahead of his rivals. The election of Wickremesinghe is likely to spark another wave of protests, as many protesters see him as a figure closely associated with the Rajapaksa regime.

15
July

 

The United States will deepen its presence in the Pacific Islands. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in a video speech at the Pacific Islands Forum in Suva, Fiji, Wednesday (13/7) as quoted by Tempo.co (13/07) said that U.S. funding for the Pacific Islands would triple to $60 million dollars per year for a decade, subject to congressional approval. In a speech delivered virtually at the meeting, Kamala Harris also announced plans to open more U.S. embassies in the South Pacific. She acknowledged that in the past, Pacific Island nations might not have received enough attention from the United States. She added that now the United States wants to "significantly deepen its presence in the Pacific region". The involvement of powerful and wealthy nations is nothing new in the Pacific Islands. Poor economic growth has made countries in the region very dependent on world aid, especially countries that are super powers, such as the United States, China, Russia, and Australia. For decades, Australia has been one of the largest donors to Pacific Island countries. In the region, Australia is investing in the health, education and government sectors. Besides the United States and Australia, another country involved in the development of the Pacific Islands is China. For years, China has sought a presence in the region, involved from the construction of airport runways, highways and stadiums to education and fishing. China's presence in the Pacific Islands is increasingly in the spotlight after the controversial pact with the Solomon Islands was agreed some time ago. What is the purpose of the super power countries' involvement in development in the Pacific region? Some observers, as quoted from Suara.com (08/06/2022) said that Beijing's goal of funding infrastructure projects in key strategic locations is to "allow China's military access" from the air and sea. But, other observers point out that some countries use money to gain power and influence. Meanwhile, the United States' initiative according to a number of experts, as quoted from www.voaindonesia.com (14/07) is a reaction to China's increasing influence in the tropical island countries. Whereas historically, the Pacific Islands region was under Western influence. The good initiatives of the great powers needn’t be disputed. Although it is not a secret, no country is fully concerned with the welfare of other countries, without any interest. Cooperation that exists between major powers, such as the United States, China and Australia with countries in the Pacific Islands needs to be supported. Most importantly, it must not damage or harm the Pacific Islands countries. In establishing cooperation with the great powers, the Pacific Island countries need to avoid being dictated to by the great powers. The sovereignty of the Pacific countries should be maintained.

12
July

 

In recent days, the number of Indonesian COVID-19 cases has continued to increase. It prompted President Joko Widodo to again ask the public to wear masks both indoors and outdoors. Previously, the government had relaxed rules related to the pandemic by allowing people without masks in open spaces.

After the Eid al-Adha prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque, Central Jakarta, Sunday (10/7), President Joko Widodo reminded that COVID-19 still exists. He also asked regional governments, especially in big cities with high mobility, to intensify booster vaccinations so that the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia can be kept under control.

After previously relaxing the rules related to the pandemic because the number of COVID-19 cases continued to decline, people's mobility seemed to be increasing. Economic activity in trade and tourism centers increased. Users of various modes of transportation also increased. However, as the number of COVID-19 cases increases, the government has begun to tighten travel rules again.

The Ministry of Transportation has issued Circular No. 72/2022 concerning Guidelines for the Implementation of Domestic Travel by Rail Transportation during the Covid-19 Pandemic, dated July 8, 2022. According to the regulation, Long-distance Train passengers who have not received a third vaccination or booster, must show a negative result of the RT-PCR or Antigen Rapid Test which is still valid at boarding time. This condition applies from departure on July 17, 2022. They are also still required to wear masks while traveling on trains and at stations.

The requirements for getting a booster vaccine for prospective passengers are also stated in several other circulars of the Ministry of Transportation for land, sea and air travel. In addition, the government also continues to urge the public to get booster vaccines and follow health protocols. The government's efforts are of course meant to provide maximal protection against COVID-19. Therefore, community support, namely by complying with all health regulations, becomes very important.

11
July

 

PT Bank Negara Indonesia -BNI increased exports to South Korea through the 2022 Imported Goods Fair (IGF) exhibition, which was held by the Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) at Coex Seoul, South Korea from 23 to 25 June 2022. Indonesian Ambassador to South Korea, Gandi Sulistiyanto said that in this activity, the Indonesian Pavilion brought 19 micro, small and medium business partners - MSME, assisted by BNI and five food and beverage business actors to promote superior products. These products include furniture, wooden decorations, silver jewelry, pearls, cosmetics, coffee, and food products.

Ambassador Gandi in an official statement in Jakarta, Sunday (10/7) explained that this activity was very positive to support the sustainability of domestic MSMEs.

In the event, several potential orders for food and beverage products were successfully recorded, with transactions worth up to U$546 thousand dollars, and this could still increase because several business actors are still communicating and in the negotiation stage with potential buyers.

In an event supported by BNI, the Ministry of Trade, and the Indonesian Embassy in Seoul, six entrepreneurs conducted online business matching with South Korean importers; one of which is the largest retail company in South Korea.

In this activity, a memorandum of understanding was also signed between BNI and KOIMA which was carried out by BNI's Director of Consumer Business, Corina Leyla Karnalies and KOIMA's Executive Vice Chairperson, Kim Young-Sun.

This Memorandum of Understanding includes cooperation in business matching programs and information exchange related to Indonesian exporters and South Korean importers.

Corina said that South Korea has a large market potential for Indonesian MSMEs’ products, considering that 82 percent of South Koreans live in urban areas and have a longer life expectancy.

08
July

 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh in Algeria on Tuesday (5/7). This meeting can be regarded as a historic one considering the two leaders last met in Doha, Qatar in October 2016. Abbas and Haniyeh were invited by Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune to attend celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Algeria's independence from France. A photo released by the Palestinian Presidential office shows Algerian President Tebboune sitting between Abbas and Haniyeh in the meeting room against the backdrop of the Algerian national flag.

A Gaza-based political analyst, Husam al-Dajani said that President Tebboune deliberately invited Abbas and Haniyeh to bring them together. According to Husam al-Dajani, President Tebboune wanted to persuade Abbas and Haniyeh to continue their dialogue. The two conflicting parties are expected to end the internal Palestinian division that has lasted about 15 years and achieve internal reconciliation.

Palestinian internal problems related to Hamas and Fatah began in 2007 when Hamas forcibly took over the Gaza Strip from Fatah. Since then, the Palestinian territories have been divided into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Fatah-dominated West Bank.

Until now, countries that have tried to become mediators to reconcile them have not been able to end the internal Palestinian division between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah Party. Indeed, the two rivals have previously reached a series of understandings and agreements sponsored by Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but have never been implemented.

Hopefully, the historic meeting in Algeria will be a good start for the reopening of dialogue between the two parties so that complete peace can be created in Palestine.

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