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Indonesia, Singapore bring maritime treaty into force

SINGAPORE — Indonesia and Singapore have brought into force a landmark maritime boundary treaty, and jointly announced that the two nations would celebrate the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations this year.

Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan participate in a signing ceremony and exchange the Instruments of Ratification for the Treaty between Indonesia and Singapore relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Two Countries in the Eastern Part of the Strait of Singapore. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

Indonesian Minister for Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan participate in a signing ceremony and exchange the Instruments of Ratification for the Treaty between Indonesia and Singapore relating to the Delimitation of the Territorial Seas of the Two Countries in the Eastern Part of the Strait of Singapore. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Indonesia and Singapore have brought into force a landmark maritime boundary treaty, and jointly announced that the two nations would celebrate the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations this year.

At a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Friday afternoon (Feb 10), Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, and his Indonesian counterpart, Ms Retno Marsudi, exchanged the Instruments of Ratification for a bilateral treaty to delimit territorial seas in the eastern part of the Singapore Strait, which was signed in Singapore in September 2014.

The 2014 treaty delimits a 9.5km stretch of territorial sea boundary between the two nations in the Singapore Strait. This agreement, together with two other treaties signed in 1973 and 2009, establish a continuous 67.3km maritime boundary with Indonesia.

The treaty is “a significant milestone in Singapore’s bilateral relations with Indonesia”, according to the MFA statement.

“It demonstrates the mutual commitment of both countries to resolving complex bilateral issues in an amicable manner on the basis of international law, and underscores the excellent bilateral ties between Singapore and Indonesia,” the statement added.

Noting that the negotiations for the treaty took slightly over three years, which was relatively fast for a boundary agreement, Dr Balakrishnan said during the ceremony that this was possible because of the deep level of strategic trust between Singapore and Indonesia.

Ms Marsudi’s visit followed a series of high-level bilateral exchanges in recent years, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s state visit to Singapore in 2015, as well as the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat in Semarang, Indonesia, in November 2016 where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Mr Widodo.

Dr Balakrishnan and Ms Marsudi also jointly announced during the ceremony that the two nations would celebrate the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties in 2017. To mark this milestone, Singapore and Indonesia will organise a number of activities and events to be held in both countries. These include cultural and business exchanges, as well as dialogues. 

The two ministers also discussed several new areas of bilateral cooperation which were identified during the Leaders’ Retreat. 

These include cooperation in areas such as tourism, energy and the establishment of the Indonesia-Singapore Business Council. Both foreign ministers agreed to continue deepening cooperation in mutually beneficial areas. In addition, they exchanged views on regional and international developments, and reaffirmed the importance of unity and centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. 

Indonesia was Singapore’s fifth-largest trading partner last year, while Singapore was Indonesia’s third-largest trading partner in 2015. The two nations are each other’s top source of visitor arrivals as well.

During the visit, Ms Marsudi also paid a courtesy call on Mr Lee, and they reaffirmed the importance of closer bilateral cooperation. Mr Lee also looked forward to hosting Mr Widodo in Singapore for the Leaders’ Retreat later this year.

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