In the world of international relations, the notion of Indonesia joining the BRICS group has been a subject of interest for over a decade. Indonesia has participated in some BRICS meetings, but the concept of official accession to this influential bloc has gained renewed momentum in recent years, with support from global players like China. As Indonesia's decision on BRICS membership looms in early 2024, it is crucial to explore the dynamics and considerations behind this potential move.
Over a decade ago, discussions about Indonesia joining the BRICS first surfaced. However, even back then, the Indonesian government was cautious about its stance. As Dr. Marty Natalegawa, former Foreign Minister of Indonesia, points out, the issue of BRICS membership was viewed through the lens of the G20, where BRICS was gradually becoming more China-led in comparison to the G7. Indonesia wanted to avoid actions that could further divide the G20. To this end, they initiated MIKTA, a forum comprising Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, and Australia, countries outside both the G7 and BRICS but part of the G20.
MIKTA's primary aim was not to accentuate divisions but rather to act as bridge builders. Nonetheless, it emerged as a way for these countries to reassess their position concerning BRICS. Indonesia's cautious approach was evident even in its decision to be part of MIKTA.
The Current Scenario
The question of Indonesia's BRICS membership has resurfaced in recent years. In July 2023, Indonesia accepted an invitation to participate in the 2023 BRICS summit. Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other officials attended the event, although they downplayed ongoing negotiations and media attention surrounding the subject.
Dr. Natalegawa's perspective on the matter is crucial to understanding Indonesia's stance. He highlights that Indonesia's position within the G20 is evolving, and the nation seeks to play a more significant role. Notably, he mentions India's chairmanship of the G20, which includes the admission of the African Union to the grouping. Dr. Natalegawa views this as a highly significant development in global affairs. In an ideal scenario, he envisions Indonesia, as a past G20 chair, initiating ASEAN membership in the G20, followed by a similar approach for the African Union, creating a more unified voice among Asian and African nations in global matters.
However, he acknowledges the need to accept the current reality. Despite the appealing prospect of Indonesia taking on a more prominent role in the G20, the decision to join BRICS is a complex one that requires careful consideration.
The ASEAN Media Forum 2023
This discussion with Dr. Marty Natalegawa took place during the 7th ASEAN Media Forum 2023 in Jakarta on October 31, 2023. At the forum, Dr. Natalegawa offered insights on "ASEAN’s relevance in the global power complex", emphasizing the significance of ASEAN's role in the global power dynamics.