President Joko Wiododo: Path of Humanitarian Diplomacy

President Joko Wiododo (Facebook)

President Joko Wiododo (Facebook)

By Eddy Suprapto

 The Russia-Ukraine war dragged countries on the European continent in the threat of widespread war. Even the impact of the war not only brought a humanitarian crisis but an economic crisis, energy and food hit the world. Efforts to negotiate peace and end the war should be pushed harder to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. President Joko Widodo has a mission to stop the war to end the humanitarian crisis.

JAKARTA: The world is full of uncertainty, it was never imagined that the European continent was threatened by an energy crisis by cutting off gas from Russia. Countries in Africa and the Middle East are unimaginable that grain supplies will stop because of wars between Ukraine and Russia. The economy was also moving contracted due to the Russia-Ukraine war. All commodity prices from Coal, Oil, Gas to Wheat, Cooking oil from sunflowers have skyrocketed drastically, eroding the spending of every country in the world. However, the most grievous impact of the war was the humanitarian crisis, especially for women and children.

In the midst of the humanitarian crisis and tensions in Europe, President Joko Wiododo brought a diplomatic mission to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Jokowi will meet Zelenksy and Putin at different times and places. The meeting will be held after he attends the G7 Summit in Germany on 27-28 June 2022. “I will visit Ukraine and will meet with President Zelensky. Its mission is to invite the President of Ukraine, President Zelensky, to open up opportunities for dialogue in the context of peace,” said Jokowi at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Jakarta, Sunday. (26/6/2022).

President Jokowi is scheduled to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine, and to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, after attending the G7 Summit in Germany June 26-28 2022. Jokowi’s meeting with Zelensky and Putin is expected to take place between June 29 and 30 2022.

The president is scheduled to first meet Zelensky before visiting Russia. “After Germany, I will visit Ukraine and will meet with President Zelensky. His mission is to invite the President of Ukraine, President Zelensky, to open a space for dialogue in the context of peace,” said Jokowi. President Jokowi said that the meeting with President Zelensky was conducted to encourage the establishment of peace between Ukraine and Russia, because the war must be stopped and the food supply chain must be reactivated.

After meeting Zelensky in Kyiv, Jokowi went to Moscow, Russia, to meet President Vladimir Putin. The president will carry out a similar mission in his meeting with Putin, opening up space for peace dialogue, pushing for a ceasefire as soon as possible, to ending war.

Choosing not to be silent

President Jokowi is the first Asian leader to visit Kyiv and Moscow since the conflict between the two countries began. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia Retno Marsudi in her statement conveyed that President Jokowi’s steps to meet Zelensky and Putin were to show Indonesia’s concern for humanitarian issues, as well as to contribute to the food crisis due to war. Foreign Minister Indonesia Retno Marsudi emphasized that despite the difficult and complex situation, President Jokowi chose to contribute to overcoming the war between Ukraine and Russia, and did not choose to be silent and indifferent to the humanitarian crisis.

President Jokowi added that his visits to Ukraine and Russia were not solely for the benefit of Indonesia but for the interests of other developing countries. “Meetings with the two heads of state, Ukraine and Russia, at the same time carry the mission of developing countries”

to prevent the people of low-income developing countries from falling into extreme poverty and hunger,” said President Jokowi.

The Ukraine war has threatened severe food shortages, famine and political stability in developing countries. According to WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, African countries could be particularly hard hit by shortages of wheat and fertilizers.

Millions of tons of grain stored in Ukrainian warehouses and ports could not be exported because of the war. A total of 35 countries in Africa import food from the Black Sea region (Ukraine and Russia), while 22 countries import fertilizer from the same region. Egypt, for example, imports 80 percent of its grain needs from Ukraine and Russia. As a result of the food crisis, the price of wheat rose 59 percent, sunflower oil rose 30 percent, and corn rose 23 percent compared to last year, before the war broke out.

According to the records of the United Nations World Food Program, eight months before the war, Ukraine exported 51 million metric tons of grain through seven ports in the Black Sea region (Southern Ukraine). However, since the Russian invasion, most of Ukraine’s export grain reserves have been held back due to damaged rail infrastructure, closed ports and Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea.

It is the issue of the threat of world food scarcity that has prompted Jokowi to go to Ukraine and Russia. If the war does not end soon, the world situation will be very dire because of the lack of food, not only African countries but many other countries. Okonjo-Iweala said, if the war continued, it would truly become a dire situation throughout the world. Therefore, we hope that the meeting between Jokowi and Zelenskiy as well as Jokowi and Putin, will bear fruit as we expect. Although, it is not easy.

More broadly, President Jokowi’s visit is a response to the global crisis that has hit the world since COVID-19 began and was exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. This means that Indonesia is very responsive to world conditions and situations. Thus, opening up the potential for Indonesia to return to its traditional orientation, namely trying to build bridges for peace and being part of the solution.

Light the Candle of Peace

President Jokowi’s diplomatic steps, namely humanitarian diplomacy, are certainly very different from other European leaders. European leaders took the form of assistance to Ukraine by providing weapons. Meanwhile, Jokowi’s visit is to encourage peace. That is why, Indonesia refused Ukraine’s request to provide weapons assistance. This confirms Indonesia’s stance that supports the search for a way of peace. Therefore, President Jokowi appealed for differences between countries to be resolved peacefully in accordance with the mandate contained in Article 2 paragraph 3 of the United Nations Charter: “All Members must resolve international disputes by peaceful means in such a way that international peace and security, and justice, are not threatened.”

In the midst of the darkness of war conflict, President Jokowi’s mission of peaceful diplomacy is an alternative step to break through the frozen diplomacy. War is a form of diplomacy failure, therefore it needs to be disbursed and there needs to be an alternative way out of war. In fact, in a humanitarian crisis, the anti-war movement began to be echoed so that Russia and Ukraine sat down together to carry out a ceasefire and end the war.

In the conventional approach, diplomacy can be the same as negotiating to resolve a conflict (in this case the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict). This is what President Jokowi will try to do when he meets with Zelenskiy and Putin. President Jokowi will assure the two leaders that the impact of the war will be felt by many countries, including the food and energy crisis. According to UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, some 6.8 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee; while the number of dead and injured, there is no definite figure, it could be thousands.

The question is how effective is the humanitarian diplomacy proposed by President Jokowi to Presidents Zelenskiy and Putin, the existence of armed forces in Northern European countries, the United States and the Armaments Industry are important actors that need to be invited to sit down together. State diplomacy is basically the art and ability to persuade others. This has been done by President Jokowi by speaking with important world leaders (with Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden, among others) to smoothen and succeed the upcoming G20 Summit. In fact, President Jokowi met President Biden, in Washington. Diplomacy can also be defined as the conduct of international relations through negotiation and dialogue or in other ways to promote peaceful relations between countries.

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