Mending Australia-Indonesia relations to take time

"Spying is very common, I have no doubt that Indonesia is also spying on Australia, but it became a real problem when it emerged that the president's and his wife's phone were monitored and that is specifically very much like an intrusion," says Australian academic

Mending Australia-Indonesia relations to take time

World Bulletin/News Desk

It is a challenging time for Australia-Indonesia relations after allegations that Australia had spied on tapped the Indonesian president, especially since Australia relies "quite heavily" on Indonesia to combat people smuggling, Waleed Aly, an Australian lecturer and presenter at a national broadcaster, told Anadolu Agency.

Indonesia recalled its ambassador and said it would suspend military cooperation with Australia, including operations against people-smuggling following claims that Australia tried to tap the phones of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife and other senior officials.

There is real anger in Indonesia, not just over spying, but also due to "the pattern of behavior" of the Australian government.

''Australia should not be expected to apologize for the steps we take to protect our country now or in the past'' or be expected to ''detail what we do to protect our country," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had said, adding that all of the country's resources had been used to ''help our friends and allies, not to harm them.''

Noting that spying is very common, Aly said, "I have no doubt that Indonesia is also spying on Australia, but it became a real problem when it emerged that the president's and his wife's phones were monitored, and that is specifically very much like an intrusion."

Reminding that US President Barack Obama had apologized to German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the US's tapping of her phone, Aly said the Australian government could have easily follow suit.

"I think they made a misjudgment and thought it was more important for them to show the Australians that they are not going to be pushed around and they are not going to apologize for doing intelligence work," he said.

"If they have to apologize for this, they may have to apologize for the next thing that comes out and the thing that comes out after that."

Reiterating that apologizing would have been an easy way to deal with the issue, he added, "but now the relations will take some work."

Aly stressed Australia needs to discourage asylum seekers from taking dangerous journeys in the open seas as most end up dying while trying to reach Australia.

 Australia has been trying to combat people smugglers exploiting asylum seekers amid increasing numbers of illegal migrants drowning at sea.

Aly said Australia now has large numbers of people coming from Sri Lanka, Iraq and Afghanistan whereas they used to mainly come from the Middle East.

When asked about how asylum seekers are received in the community, he said their reception is fairly positive as "They begin life, start working."

Expressing another concern, Aly said Australia would decrease the annual number of asylum-seekers from 20 thousand to 13 or 13.5 thousand, and would try to permit entry to people coming from refugee camps in Africa or Pakistan, rather than those arriving by boat.

Last Mod: 23 Kasım 2013, 11:50
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