Posted by: Andi Arsana | February 5, 2009

Indonesia and Singapore agree on a new maritime boundary

Taken from the Jakarta Post

After almost four years of negotiations, Indonesia and Singapore have agreed on a new maritime boundary.

The new border, which will split the two neighbors in the west, will be the first agreed upon since the two countries last signed a border agreement back in 1973.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told a press conference here Monday that while the two countries had agreed on the central segment of their territorial sea boundary 36 years ago, only recently had they reached an agreement on the western segment of the boundary.

Discussion over the eastern segment will start as soon as the agreement on the western boundary is signed, said Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.

“The central segment of the territorial sea boundary between Indonesia and Singapore was agreed upon in 1973 — 36 years ago,” Yudhoyono said after presiding over a Cabinet meeting.

“After that, there were no more discussions, and we only resumed the pending negotiations in February 2005.”

He added that with a clearer boundary between the two countries, it was expected that Indonesia could further explore economic development in its territories near the boundary, which includes the Batam, Bintan and Karimun free trade zones in the Riau Islands.

The agreement is also expected to boost economic ties between Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, as well as the three neighbors’ security cooperation in safeguarding the Malacca Strait.

Departing from previous concern, Hassan said, Singapore, which has been actively reclaiming its shoreline, finally agreed not to use its southern reclaimed shoreline as the basis to determine the border.

The median line that forms the western segment of the boundary between the two nations was finally drawn from Indonesia’s Nipah Island and Singapore’s original Sultan Shoal Island, Hassan said.

He added Singapore had earlier refused to talk about the eastern segment boundary, citing the country’s border dispute with Malaysia.

However, with the International Court of Justice deciding last year to grant Singapore sovereignty over the disputed Pedra Branca rocks, recognized by Malaysia as Batu Puteh, negotiations over the final segment of the boundary might soon resume after the signing of the agreement on the western segment boundary, the foreign minister said.


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