During a September 2011 fieldwork trip to Jakarta, GAI PhD student Greta Nabbs-Keller was invited by security sector reform analyst, Beni Sukadis, to discuss the Australia-Indonesia bilateral relationship with a group of international relations lecturers from the ‘Veterans’ University (UPN, Universitas Pembangunan Nasional).
In a discussion titled ‘Indonesia in Australian Foreign Policy: Rhetoric and Reality’, Greta discussed the importance of Indonesia in Australia’s strategic perceptions and the role of historical sentiment and Australian public opinion on previously turbulent bilateral relations, including East Timor and Papua. In a dynamic exchange with UPN lecturers, some of whom included Masters alumni from the Australian National University and the University of Indonesia, there was general agreement that Indonesia’s democratisation experience had removed many of the longstanding irritants in the bilateral relationship. UPN lecturers were also interested to hear Australian views on Indonesia’s contemporary foreign policy and Indonesia’s significance in the geo-political shifts occurring in the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to the discussion, Greta was warmly welcomed by UPN Rector, Air Vice Marshal (ret’d) Koesnadi Kardi, formerly Head of the Ministry of Defence’s Training and Education Section and current advisor to the Minister of Defence.