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Military

USIS Washington 
File

30 September 1999

 

Text: Statement of Defense Secretary on Indonesian Army Sept. 30

("The military is at a critical turning point")  (620)
The United States will not consider restoring normal military
relations with Indonesia until the Indonesian military restores order
in East Timor and takes reforms underway by protecting human rights
and operating under civilian control, Defense Secretary William Cohen
said.
In a statement released September 30 after his meeting with
Indonesia's General Wiranto, Cohen said he warned General Wiranto that
the Indonesian military is at "a critical turning point."
If the Indonesian military "contributes to a peaceful solution in East
Timor," Defense Secretary said, "they will be acting in a manner
consistent with Indonesia's national interests and international
obligations." "If, on the other hand, they permit or participate,
openly or behind the scenes, they will do severe damage to the country
they are sworn to defend," he said.
Cohen urged General Wiranto "to make the right choice."
Cohen said he wanted to see "an Indonesia that is democratic,
prosperous, united and stable." For that reason, the United States
will eagerly assist Indonesia's transition to democracy and its
economic development, he added, only if the Indonesian military
reforms itself and meets its international obligation.
Following is the text of Cohen's statement:
(begin text)
Statement by U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen
 after meeting with Gen. Wiranto
The United States strongly supports Indonesia's transition to
democracy. Our goal is an Indonesia that is democratic, prosperous,
united and stable.
The Indonesian military has an important contribution to make to that
process as it reforms itself. The separation of the armed forces from
the police was a significant step toward enabling the Indonesian armed
forces to concentrate on their primary role of national defense.
During the elections in June, the Indonesian military played a
positive role by remaining neutral.
But in recent months elements in the military have aided and abetted
violence in East Timor.
I told General Wiranto that the military is at a critical turning
point.
If it supports the government's policy, contributes to a peaceful
solution in East Timor, investigates and punishes those guilty of
improper behavior, disarms the militia in West Timor and prevents them
from destabilizing East Timor, they will be acting in a manner
consistent with Indonesia's national interests and international
obligations. If, on the other hand, they permit or participate, openly
or behind the scenes, in further aiding and abetting violence in East
Timor, they will do severe damage to the country they are sworn to
defend.
I urged General Wiranto to make the right choice.
In response to violence in East Timor, the U.S. has suspended military
programs with Indonesia and begun a review of economic and other
bilateral assistance.
In our discussion, I made it clear that the U.S. will not consider
restoring normal military to military contacts until the TNI reforms
its ways. The military must show restraint and respect for human
rights throughout Indonesia. It must be clear that the military
operates under civilian control.
When the MPR (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat: Parliament) convenes
tomorrow, Indonesia will take an important step in its transformation
toward democracy as it selects a new president. The military can play
a key role by allowing a process that is legitimate and credible, or
it can destroy hope for a peaceful transition by refusing to respect
human right and the rule of law.
If the military can help restore order and opportunity in East Timor
and aid a successful democratic transition by respecting human rights
and operating under civilian control, the U.S. will enthusiastically
support Indonesia through the difficult challenges of economic
restructuring and institution building.
(end text)




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