Felix Heiduk

Indonesia in ASEAN

Regional Leadership between Ambition and Ambiguity

SWP Research Paper 2016/RP 06, April 2016, 38 Pages

Supporting regional integration processes within the context of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an integral component of Brussels’ strategic interest in South-East Asia. Hereby, Indonesia – regional primus inter pares and self-proclaimed driver of regional integration – is perceived as a key partner for Europe. There are indications, however, that Indonesia seems to be turning away from ASEAN under the administration of the current president, Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”). A new narrative has recently emerged in Jakarta that seeks to prioritise Indonesia’s national interests in all aspects of the country’s international affairs over long-standing hallmarks of Indonesia’s international politics – most notably of ASEAN being the cornerstone of Indonesian foreign policy.

In order to be able to gauge changes in Indonesian foreign policy towards ASEAN under Jokowi, this research paper traces the role that ASEAN has played in Indonesian foreign policy – from the fall of Suharto up to the present day. The study finds that Indonesia’s role in ASEAN differs distinctly from one policy field to the other. Although Indonesia has contributed extensively towards regional integration in the field of security policy, it has predominantly displayed inert – or outright negative – attitudes towards regional economic integration. There are a number of indicators that Jakarta’s foot-dragging – with regard to economic integration – might further increase under the Jokowi administration. This, however, is not tantamount to a complete neglect of ASEAN in the foreseeable future. After all, ASEAN is still viewed by policy-makers in Jakarta as being the centre of the regional security architecture and the main instrument for maintaining regional security and stability.

SWP Comment

Mark A. Heller
The United States and Israel: The Risk of Growing Apart

If Illiberal Democracy Prevails in Israel, the Special Relationship May Not Survive

Nadine Biehler, David Kipp
Alternatives to Refugee Camps

Cities Need International Support for Receiving Forcibly Displaced People