493 Critchley to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram C15 THE HAGUE, 21 September 1949, 10.25 p.m.


The Provisional agreements on the Statute of the Union reached by the Steering Committee at the weekend (C.14 [1]) have not been fully accepted by the two Indonesian Delegations. Their request to re-open discussions has been strongly opposed by the Netherlands.

The following is a summary of the other main developments:

(1) Steering Committee.

(a) Minorities. On the recommendation of the sub-Committee (paragraph 1 of my C.9 [2] the Steering Committee has decided to propose to the conference that the Netherlands minority group be heard on the following subjects.

1. Citizenship.

2. Religious belief and culture.

3. Education.

4. Position of the Netherlands language.

5. The position of the Netherlands Civil and Military officials and pensioners after transfer of sovereignty.

Further subjects may be considered at a later stage.

(b) 'Significant interests'. A serious conflict developed on the question of hearing representatives of 'significant interests' at the Conference. The Netherlands have been anxious to give as wide a hearing as possible to all 'interests' including representatives of local separatist movements in East Indonesia and Sumatra, some of whom have arrived in Holland without the Indonesian Delegations being previously consulted. The Netherlands Delegation stressed that these people have a special claim to be heard with regard to the right of self-determination. On the other hand, the Indonesians and particularly Anak Agung regard these separatist movements neither as minorities nor as 'significant interests' but as political groups whose participation in the conference would add confusion and create political difficulties in Indonesia. On the suggestion of the Commission, a compromise has been found whereby all groups or individuals claiming to represent 'significant interests' will present their claims personally to a sub-Committee of the Steering Committee and be given the opportunity to submit written documents. The compromise may provide a safety valve insofar as all interests will be able to settle their point of view. At the same time the sub-Committee will recommend which groups, if any, should participate in the Conference and will be able to prevent any group from confusing or delaying the main work.

(c) New Guinea. The Netherlands Delegation has agreed to the proposals of the Indonesians that New Guinea should now be discussed and that the Chairmen of the Delegations to the appropriate Committee should be instructed to meet informally to decide a procedure.

(d) Work of the Conference. To speed up the conference, it has been decided to call on the Heads of delegations to the various Committees to report personally and to discuss with the Steering Committee points of agreement and disagreement. As a first step leaders of the Financial and Economic Committee will report at the next meeting of the Steering. Committee on 22nd September.

(2) Political Committee.

(a) Foreign Relations. Sub-Committee 3 divided this subject into 7 topics- (i) consideration of which existing treaties shall be taken over by the R.U.I.;

(ii) provisions looking toward a common foreign policy;

(iii) possibility of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union taking part in foreign relations in its own name;

(iv) provisions for table consultation prior to one of the two partners contracting a treaty with another power which affects the interests of the other partner;

(v) possibilities of common diplomatic representation;

(vi) possibility of one partner looking after the interests of the other;

(vii) Personnel.

A working group of three members from each delegation will consider these topics on the understanding that items (ii) and (iii) will be held over until decisions on the Union Statute have been reached. It is already clear that a large measure of agreement exists in the Sub-Committee and no major difficulties are foreseen.

(b) Nationality and Citizenship. Informal discussions are being held with regard to the principles underlying the classification of Netherlands subjects at the transfer of Sovereignty.

(3) Military Affairs Committee. Three major problems have emerged in the informal discussions- (a) the status of Sourabaya as a naval base;

(b) the withdrawal of Netherlands troops (the Netherlands have suggested that the withdrawal would be completed within 18 months to two years. The Indonesians have in mind six months to one year);

(c) the position of the Royal Netherlands Indonesian Army. (The Republicans believe that the Federal Army should consist as far as possible of officers and men who have accepted Indonesian nationality and that Netherlands personnel should only be used as advisers or for training.) (4) Cultural Affairs Committee. It has been agreed that cultural relations between the R.U.I. and the Netherlands should be voluntary and should be based on principles of independence, democracy and reciprocity. It is not expected that there will be serious difficulties in the way of completing an agreement for cultural co-operation.

(5) Social Affairs Committee. The Netherlands delegation has proposed three main groups of topics- (a) the legal Status of the present Civil Service on the transfer of sovereignty;

(b) the regulation of relations between employers and employees and social provisions for the latter;

(c) general activities in the social field with particular reference to provisions for public health, welfare, housing, labour conditions position, social associations, etc. The Indonesian delegations are insisting that discussions be restricted to Group (a) and that the other subjects fall within the competence of the Sovereign R.U.I.

1 Document 491.

2 Document 482.

[AA : A1838, 854/10/4/3, vi]