JAKARTA (AP): Indonesia said Monday it does not recognize Kosovo’s declaration of independence, a move that reflects Jakarta’s concern that the pronouncement could energize its own separatist movements. Indonesia, a sprawling country of some 18,000 islands, saw East Timor break away in 1999 and is battling widespread secessionist sentiment in the Papua region and a smaller nonviolent movement in the Maluku islands.
The government said in a statement it regretted Kosovo’s unilateral declaration and hoped it would not bring about fresh tension and conflict in the Balkan region. It said UN-backed principles of upholding the territorial integrity of developing nations must be supported.
“The government of Indonesia will follow closely developments in Kosovo, but it is not yet in a position to recognize this unilateral declaration of independence,” the statement said.
Russia and Serbia have declared Sunday’s declaration by the Kosovo parliament illegal and said it could spur independence movements in the region and the world. But most of the 27 nations in the European Union are expected to quickly endorse the pronouncement.
Indonesia, which is home to hundreds of ethic groups, cultures and languages, lost East Timor after a UN-organized independence ballot that was bitterly opposed by the country’s powerful military.
It is currently battling a ragtag separatist army in eastern Papua region, a mostly Christian part of the overwhelmingly Muslim country that is rich in oil, gas and timber.
Separatists there claim a UN-organized vote in 1969 that saw 1,000 hand-picked tribal elders endorse Jakarta rule was a sham.
Government negotiators reached a peace deal with rebels in Aceh province in 2005 ending nearly 30 years of fighting in the oil and gas-rich province on the north of Sumatra island. The deal came after the destruction wrought by the Asian tsunami a year earlier provided an opportunity for both sides to begin talking. (****)
Source: The Jakarta Post
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