Brussels All of us at the International Crisis Group are deeply saddened by the news of the death today of Indonesian Presidential Adviser and former Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, a recently-elected member of our Board of Trustees and a long-standing friend and colleague of many Board and staff members. We express our deepest condolences to his widow Junisa and all his family.
Ali Alatas was a wise and enormously respected international statesman who played an important role in managing Indonesia’s transition from authoritarian military rule to flourishing democracy, in consolidating ASEAN’s role as a major force for maintaining peace and stability in a long-volatile region and in being an effective communications bridge over many years between the developing and developed world in the UN and other multilateral forums.
I personally feel a particular sense of loss at Ali’s passing. He and I, appointed as our country’s foreign ministers in the same year – 1988 – worked closely together to restore the then very damaged bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia; to try to find a solution to the divisive issue of East Timor, on which he was always (as Jose Ramos Horta among others has subsequently acknowledged) a moderate and constructive voice, though working against very difficult odds until the end of the Suharto era; to try to sustain external pressure against the Burmese military regime’s human rights violations; and above all – between 1989 and 1993 – to devise and implement the UN peace plan for Cambodia, initially an Australian initiative but one which could never have been successfully carried through without Ali’s immensely skilled and deft diplomacy. Most recently we have worked together on the Australia-Japan initiated International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, on which, as always, he was knowledgeable, wise, forward looking – and, along with Junisa, very good company.
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