Subject: EU extends arms embargo against Indonesia

Also: AGE: Warning on Jakarta arms trade

European parliament extends arms embargo against Indonesia

STRASBOURG, Dec 16 (AFP) - The European Parliament voted Thursday to prolong the EU arms embargo against Indonesia and its suspension of bilateral military cooperation.

A statement from parliament said that to have done otherwise would have sent a signal to the Indonesian army that they had been rehabilitated and would have legitimised the repression they continued to exercise.

The European Union declared the embargo on September 16 after the killings in East Timor that followed the region's overwhelming vote for independence from Indonesia in an August 30 UN-organised ballot.

Armed pro-Indonesian militia launched a campaign of terror following the September 4 announcement of the result.

The EU embargo had been due to expire on January 17, 2000.

Parliament also called on the new Indonesian government to seek a peaceful solution to the separatist movement in Aceh province, where two civilians were killed and two wounded in fresh violence Thursday.

Aceh, a resource-rich region on the northern tip of Sumatra, has been wracked by violence between Indonesian troops and guerillas battling for an independent Islamic state. At least 300 people have died this year.

The Age 15 December 1999 Warning on Jakarta arms trade By PAUL DALEY FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT CANBERRA Continued European bans on arms sales will seriously hamper Indonesia's "internal repression" but could prompt Jakarta to forge new military relationships with China and Russia, a top-secret Australian intelligence paper reveals.

 The secret assessment, obtained by The Age, predicts that continued sanctions by the European Union would seriously impede major Indonesian technical defence upgrades and have a "further debilitating impact" on the operational abilities of the Indonesian military (TNI).

 The assessment, prepared by the Defence Intelligence Organisation and marked AUSTEO (Australian Eyes Only), points out that a number of EU countries reluctantly agreed to the ban.

 This raised the prospect that Europe would once again arm TNI ahead of expected internal conflicts in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh, Ambon and Irian Jaya. 

Defence, intelligence and diplomatic sources say the very existence of the document shows it is imperative that the EU, which imposed a four-month arms embargo on Indonesia in September, continues the ban when it is reconsidered on 17January. 

The document makes it clear that some EU members will put financial gain ahead of human rights, saying some countries "only gave lukewarm support to the embargo and insisted on the inclusion of the four-month sunset clause". The EU embargo covers the export of arms and munitions as well as equipment that could be used for internal repression in Aceh, Irian Jaya and Ambon. It affected the planned sale of nine Hawk aircraft to Indonesia by Britain, which had previously delivered about 40 of the planes to the Indonesian military. 

The British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, and his Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, were embarrassed earlier this year with the revelation that Indonesia had used four of the jets (despite assurances to the contrary) in East Timor. 

The Defence Intelligence Organisation document says an extended EU embargo is likely to affect major Indonesian defence acquisitions, including a Netherlands-provided signal system for Indonesia's 57-metre patrol boats, up to 70 special armored personnel carriers and 18 reconnaissance vehicles from the French, and possibly a consignment of 105mm light guns from Britain. Extension of the ban would impact most heavily on the operational side of TNI and its ability to oversee internal repression. 

"The arms embargo, particularly if extended, may compel Indonesia to look to more `dependable' states such as China and Russia for military equipment," the assessment says. Diplomatic sources said that while the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, had no intention of reversing the decision to downgrade Australian defence ties with Indonesia, Australia would not officially lobby EU countries to extend their arms embargo.


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