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Press statement at the Indian Ocean Rim Association Leaders' Summit, Jakarta, Indonesia

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7 March 2017

Press Statement at the Indian Ocean Rim Association Leaders’ Summit

Jakarta, Indonesia



[Broadcast begins]

We thank you so much for the welcome from you and the people of Indonesia have shown us here at this first IORA’s Leaders’ Summit and the 20th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Rim Association. Leaders have come together and it has been a very successful summit and we thank you for your leadership.

We thank you President Zuma as the other member of our Troika and look forward to the next IORA summit being held in South Africa.

In particular, I welcome President Widodo's Jakarta Concord. This provides a roadmap for IORA’s future work and reaffirms our shared commitment to building peace, stability and prosperity in our region.

The Concord is an important statement of our shared values and objectives across the Indian Ocean. It includes our commitment to a rules-based international order and our determination to advance common objectives in maritime security, fisheries, blue economy and women's economic empowerment. A peaceful and safe Indian Ocean must be one which is based, as President Widodo said a moment ago, on the rule of law and that includes the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

I'm confident that under South Africa's leadership, President Zuma’s leadership, it will continue to build on that ambitious agenda that Indonesia has set out here in Jakarta.

Now, as the Indian Ocean’s strategic importance grows, so too does our responsibility to be alert to growing challenges in the region. And that's why IORA’s adoption of a declaration of countering and preventing violent extremism and terrorism is so important.

President Widodo has shown remarkable leadership in this area. As he says - so powerfully and persuasively - “Indonesia is proof that Islam, democracy and moderation are compatible”. He leads by example. Indonesia leads by example. And this is a vital role, Mr President. You have shown your leadership at home and abroad in these times.

We're very pleased to support - to have supported this initiative which compliments other counter terrorism initiatives in the region, including through the East Asia Summit. It is vitally important that we do, again, as we have done today, unequivocally condemn terrorism and recognise the threat that violent extremism poses to our region and to the world.

Now as President Zuma noted, Australia has been part of IORA’s story from the beginning, we were one of the original group of seven nations to meet in Mauritius in 1995 to discuss how to enhance economic cooperation across the Indian Ocean.

It is remarkable as many of us have reflected on today, how the history of all of the countries here has been shaped by the Indian Ocean; by the passage of trade, people, religion, cultures, over more than 1,000 years.

It is truly part of our history and now in an age of globalisation and technology changing at a pace unprecedented in human history, now it is more important than ever that we work together.

So we have worked hard to expand IORA's economic agenda and we focused on making gender equality a priority across every aspect of the organisation’s global network. Mr President, you’ve emphasised that so strongly today.

We also introduced a Blue Economy priority policy, which underscores the fact that we all have a stake in ensuring our region's marine resources are harvested in a sustainable manner.

Our commitment to strong engagement with the region is also underscored by the forthcoming ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, which we will host in Australia in March 2018.

But I think it is fair to say that this, today, is a historic moment in Jakarta, Mr President, because the countries of the Indian Ocean rim have been shaped by their interaction across that ocean over hundreds, if not thousands of years. But in recent times, we have not had as much to do with each other. We have not worked together as much as we ought to, and as much as we will in the future.

As we do, it will be in large part due to your leadership, due to Indonesia's leadership. You have passed the baton to South Africa who will carry it forward.

So we look forward to doing more together across the Indian Ocean.

I'm proud to stand here as the Prime Minister of Australia, alongside Indonesia's President, South Africa's President, in advancing IORA's work towards an open, stable and prosperous Indian Ocean.

Thank you.