5 Februari 1993
Indonesia will buy nearly a third of the former East German Navy, in a move that will improve its defenses but not disturb the military balance in the region.
A spokesman for the Indonesian armed forces in Jakarta said Thursday that his country would acquire 39 East German frigates, landing ships and minesweepers from Germany as well as three new submarines that Germany is building on order.
The vessels will improve Indonesian security in the face of a buildup of Chinese forces in the South China Sea. For Bonn, the sale is a way of getting rid of surplus arms while cementing good relations and securing business contracts with the fourth-most-populous nation.
The transaction is the latest purchase - either concluded or contemplated - by Asian countries seeking cut-rate arms now in plentiful supply from countries of the former Soviet bloc.
Reports of the transaction prompted immediate criticism in Germany from the Social Democratic Party, the main opposition group. Norbert Gansel, party spokesman on security affairs, attacked what he called Chancellor Helmut Kohl's "profligate weapons policy" and said that Indonesia should not get any military encouragement because of its East Timor policy.
9 ex-Frosch class minesweeper ship (photo : Militer Kaskus)
Indonesia invaded East Timor, a Portuguese colony, in 1975 and annexed it the following year. The United Nations has not recognized the takeover of the territory, which is under tight military control.
Western diplomats said the sale also touches on controversy because it raises questions about German arms export laws, which forbid delivery of weapons outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if the purchasing country is in a "region of tension."
Only last week, the Federal Security Council, a panel of senior ministers headed by Mr. Kohl, blocked Taiwan from buying 20 German submarines and frigates valued at $7.5 billion because of tension between the island and China.
Government sources in Bonn said that the council approved the sale to Indonesia because it is a member of the pro-Western Association of South East Asian Nations, which enjoys similar status to NATO under Germany's arms control laws, Agence France-Presse reported.
The sale price was not disclosed,but Andrew Mack, professor of international relations at the Australian National University in Canberra, said he was sure that Indonesia was acquiring the East German ships at "absolute bargain prices."
He added, "They will get a relatively large navy for a relatively small number of dollars."
Bonn inherited an arsenal of Soviet-bloc ships, aircraft, guns and munitions when East Germany was united with the West in October 1990. Similarly, the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe created an enormous pool of surplus weapons.
A number of countries in Asia, including China, India and Malaysia, are looking to Russia as a major supplier of low-cost arms. South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia also have shown some interest in Russian weapons. Pakistan is negotiating the purchase of 320 T-72 tanks from Poland.
Desmond Ball, an analyst at the Strategic and Defense Studies Center at the Australian National University in Canberra, said that whereas Cold War politics and alliance relationships once meant that the United States was the major arms supplier to the nonsocialist states, "cost is now a more critical variable than politics" for a number of countries in Asia.
Malaysia is reported to be close to a decision to buy 24 to 30 MiG-29 fighter aircraft and 6 Hind helicopter gunships from Russia in a deal valued at more than $500 million.
In an attempt to dissuade the Malaysians, teams from McDonnell Douglas Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. were in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday for talks with Defense Minister Najib Razak. McDonnell Douglas is trying to sell its F/A-18 multirole fighters, while General Dynamics was promoting its F-16 fighters.
The Malaysian defense minister said recently that Russia had offered to supply its most sophisticated aircraft, engines, avionics and missiles at substantially cheaper prices than those of their Western counterparts.
Derek da Cunha, a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said that some of these weapons were "very good value" and could fulfill the military roles required by Asian nations. He said that Asian interest in former Soviet bloc weapons was forcing Western arms suppliers to become more competitive.
Asia is one of the few growth areas in the world for military exports.
Sumber : IHT