- POSTED: 17 Jan 2014 16:15
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Jakarta issues strongly worded statement after Australia apologised for encroaching into Indonesian territorial waters.
JAKARTA: An Indonesian government statement released on Friday said that it “deplored” the Australian navy’s incursion into its territory.
"The government of Indonesia deplores and rejects the violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by Australian vessels," a spokesman for the security and political affairs coordinating ministry, Agus Barnas, told reporters.
The new statement was issued after the ministry withdrew an earlier statement which had referred to deep regret over the incidents.
Indonesia also demanded formal clarification for the infringements through diplomatic channels and assurances that such incidents would not be repeated.
"The government of Indonesia underlines that any such violations... constitute a serious matter in bilateral relations of the two countries," added spokesman Barnas
Indonesia said it will also increase naval patrols to counter the Australian territorial actions, done in order to turn back asylum seekers, and urged its southern neighbour to halt operations that risked further incursions.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Thursday night offered her Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa "an unqualified apology on behalf of the Australian government for inadvertently entering Indonesia's territorial waters," Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.
"I should stress this occurred unintentionally and without knowledge or sanction by the Australian government," he said.
Lieutenant General Angus Campbell, who heads the military-led Operation Sovereign Borders to stop asylum-seekers arriving in Australia by sea, refused to give details on the border violations for "operational reasons".
Bishop also gave "an assurance that such a breach of Indonesian territorial waters would not re-occur".
Despite acknowledging the “inadvertent” breaches of Indonesian territorial sovereignty, Morrison continued to defend his country’s right to maintain the security of it borders.
Calling the diplomatic contretemps “a setback”, he told reporters that his government won’t let the incident “get in the way of doing the job we were elected to: which is to stop the boats.”
Under the new conservative government which came into power last September, asylum-seekers arriving by boat are sent to Pacific islands camps for processing with no chance of settlement in Australia, while boats intercepted at sea can be turned back to Indonesia.
The policy has angered Indonesia which has suggested that such a policy could infringe its sovereignty.
Australia contend that many of the boat people who attempt to reach its shores do so after paying people smugglers in Indonesia, and had previously asked the Indonesian government to be more diligent in tackling this issue.
The latest spat is another episode in a series of incidents that have stained ties between the two neighbours.
Late last year, Indonesia downgraded relations with Australia after allegations of Australian spying on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.