Category Archives: International Relation

The Dutch Return, This Time as Friends

Cornelis de Houtman, the first Dutch traveler to arrive in Indonesia and generations of other Dutch officials, traders and investors that came later, knew well how Indonesia could provide a lifeline for the Netherlands for hundreds of years, while making themselves very rich in the process.

And now, with Europe still struggling to cope with an economic downturn, Indonesia’s significance is back on the table, offering massive opportunities for the Dutch economy.

The Netherlands is sending its largest delegation since the independence of its former colony in 1945, a visit that has been dubbed by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as “the most serious effort to synergize the two countries that have deep historical ties for the sake of present and future mutual benefits.”

Dutch PM Mark RutteRutte, who leads 200 businesspeople representing more than 100 companies and research institutes on a three-day visit, will meet today with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the Netherlands aims to build a new chapter of deeper cooperations with Indonesia, while trying to offset incidents that have damaged relations with its former colony in recent years.

“We have a long and difficult history together. But we must focus on the future, not only on the past, for the mutual benefits of the two countries,” Rutte told the Jakarta Globe in an interview in his office last week.

New era of relations

To show that the visit is historic and crucial, Rutte and Yudhoyono will sign an unprecedented joint declaration on comprehensive partnership between the two countries to take the relations to a new high.

The declaration will become an umbrella agreement for both countries to boost their cooperation further.

“The declaration marks the new era of our relations and cooperation. The partnership will focus on water management, logistics, infrastructure, food security and agriculture and education,” said Rutte, who will be accompanied by several key ministers and officials, including Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen and Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma.

Rutte stressed that what is important for both the Netherlands and Indonesia is how the countries can benefit each other in the future.

Bernard Bot, an influential Dutch senior diplomat and former foreign minister, who declared in 2005 that the Netherlands acknowledged Indonesia’s independence in 1945, agreed that it’s time for both countries to come to terms with past and move ahead. “There’s so much we can do together for the sake of our future,” he said.

“It’s for real now,” Retno LP Marsudi, the Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands, said in a separate interview.

Concrete offers

On water management, the Netherlands has funded a master plan for a massive sea wall in Jakarta Bay to prevent tidal flooding and to manage the flow of water within the capital.

The area behind the 35-kilometer long, 15-kilometer wide wall will be turned into office complexes, malls and other commercial buildings. There is even a plan to relocate all government offices to the area once it is completed by 2025.

“The master plan will be finished by early next year and groundbreaking will begin later in the year,” Retno said.

The Netherlands, Rutte said, has always had to deal with high water and sea waves in order to survive, considering that the country is partly below sea level. He added that his country would bring state-of-the-art technology for Indonesia to use.

“It’s time for the Netherlands to empower Indonesians by equipping them to fish, not by merely providing the fish,” said Jesse Kuijper, a businessman who will join Rutte to Jakarta and who heads the Netherlands-based Indonesia-Nederland Society.

On logistics, Dutch companies could help Indonesia build world-class seaports across the country while in agriculture several Dutch firms have offered their Indonesian counterparts investment and technology to enable the country’s farmers to produce food with the latest technology at a time when prices are rising and the nation is struggling to feed its people.

“The Netherlands is the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products, and we have many areas we can work together,” said Rutte.

In education, Indonesia has asked the Netherlands to treat Indonesian students as local students, so that they pay lower tuition fees. “It would be an excellent gesture from the Dutch government if the Indonesian students are treated as locals,” said Kuijper.

Difficult time in Europe

Rutte acknowledged that Europe and the Netherlands are facing tough times. “We have a difficult period at the moment. I do believe that we have made good strides but there is still a long way to go,” he said.

He said he admired Indonesia’s high economic growth of 6 percent annually. “We are jealous,” he said, smiling.

The latest figures from the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) show the Netherlands economy grew by just0,1 percent in the last quarter compared to the previous.

The CBS also reported that there were 46,000 fewer jobs in the third quarter.

“Indonesia can offer Dutch businesspeople a place for investment with a huge market of 240 million people and a growing middle class of over 100 million, as well as entry gate to the bigger market of Asean,” said Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political Sciences.

He said the Netherlands now sees Indonesia as a successful democracy with long-term stability. “Relations between Indonesia and the Dutch should be more special — more than other ties — because we have a long history together. We can synergize, with Indonesia providing natural resources and markets and the Dutch providing capital, knowledge and technology,” Aleksius said.

He added that the Netherlands can offer Indonesia the opportunity to become a producer and not just a consumer. “It is now depending on Indonesia to realize the goals,” Aleksius said.

The Netherlands already is Indonesia’s second-biggest trading partner in Europe. In 2012, trade between the two countries was worth $4.7 billion.

Blast form the past

Relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands have experienced ups and downs, with two incidents proving particularly embarrassing for leaders of both countries in the last few years.

President Yudhoyono was forced to cancel his trip to the Netherlands in 2010 after a group of Moluccan independence activists filed a motion in the Dutch courts to arrest the president for gross human rights violations in Maluku and Papua.

Relations became tense after the trip was canceled, with many in Indonesia blaming the Dutch for insulting Yudhoyono.

The relations plunged into a new low when the Dutch government had to cancel the sale of Leopard tanks to Indonesia last year after the parliament voted to reject the deal. Indonesia then angrily turned to Germany to buy the same tanks.

Rutte, who loves Indonesian food like nasi goreng and sate and whose parents lived for some time in Indonesia, gave assurances such incidents would not happen again under his administration. “In fact, we are expecting President Yudhoyono to visit us next year,” he said.

About the Moluccan activists, Retno said everybody has the right to keep on dreaming. “But the question is whether or not it is realistic.”

She said relations between the two countries are getting better, with both sides understanding and trusting each other.

Retno also said the close connections between the people of the two countries meant Indonesia and the Netherlands could not afford to let relations cool.

Currently, 10 percent of the Netherlands’ 17 million population has direct or indirect links to Indonesia. And every year, Retno said, thousands of Indonesians travel to the Netherlands as tourists or for business, with the Dutch doing likewise.

Aleksius said fewer and fewer people in Indonesia see the Netherlands as a former colonial power.

“I don’t think it matters much now. People are becoming pragmatic, seeking concrete benefits and looking forward instead of being bothered by the past,” he said.

Source: The Jakarta Globe

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The Netherlands Sends Largest Ever Trade Mission to Indonesia

This week, a group of Dutch politicians and businessmen, led by prime minister Mark Rutte, will pay a four day visit to Indonesia.

The aim of the visit is to smoothen bilateral relations and search for business opportunities between both countries.

This Dutch group, which includes more than one hundred Dutch company delegates, forms the largest Dutch trade delegation that has visited Southeast Asia’s biggest economy in the modern history.

However, relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia are still complex today.

Obviously, the complexity of relations between both countries traces back to the colonial period, which brings along more emotions, in particular on the part of Indonesia.

Last year, commotion emerged after the Dutch parliament refused to sell army tanks to Indonesia because the Indonesian government might use these against its own people. This then became a laughing stock for Indonesians who pointed to the colonial past.

Moreover, in 2010, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cancelled a trip to the Netherlands at the last minute because the Dutch government could not guarantee Yudhoyono’s inviolability regarding a lawsuit filed by the government-in-exile of the Republic of South Maluku (RMS). The RMS issued legal proceedings to have Yudhoyono arrested upon entering the Netherlands.

Indonesia is a highly promising market. The country contains a large population (over 240 million people) with a rapidly expanding middle class.

Per capita GDP has been increasing strongly in recent years, implying that the expanding middle class segment has more and more money to spend.

Regarding commodities, Southeast Asia’s largest economy contains an abundance and variety, including palm oil, coal, nickel, rubber, and cocoa.

Despite the political sensitivities, trade relations between both countries have been growing robustly.

In the last three years, bilateral trade rose 25 percent to approximately €3.5 billion in 2012. As such, Indonesia is the fastest growing export market for the Netherlands in Asia.

However, there is still ample room for further growth and that is why the Dutch trade delegation, which includes Shell, Unilever, Philips and ING, is heading for Indonesia this week.

Source: indonesia-investments

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Australia and Indonesia combine forces to tackle illegal fishing

Patrol Boat Crew ARDENT Three's boarding team conducts a fisheries boarding on a vessel of interest in Northern Australian waters.

Patrol Boat Crew ARDENT Three’s boarding team conducts a fisheries boarding on a vessel of interest in Northern Australian waters.

Illegal fishing has been the focus of a combined Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Indonesian armed forces (TNI) operation, concluding in Kupang, West Timor this week.

The fourth annual Australian and Indonesian coordinated maritime security patrol (AUSINDO CORPAT) started in Darwin was conducted in waters between the two countries from 2-16 September.

The operation included aircraft, ships and headquarters staff from both countries in two synchronised task groups. The ADF contribution included Armidale Class Patrol Boat, HMAS Wollongong and an AP-3C Orion aircraft. The Indonesian armed forces provided naval vessels KRI Hiu and KRI Kakap and a CASA NC-212 aircraft.

The ships and aircraft patrolled along the Australian and Indonesian shared maritime boundaries in the vicinity of Ashmore Island, the Provisional Fisheries Surveillance Enforcement Line (PFSEL) and the Australian Indonesian Seabed Line (AISBL).

Air Commodore Ken Watson, Commander of the ADF task group, said the combined patrol provided an excellent opportunity to improve mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries’ armed forces.

“We have built upon the success of previous coordinated patrols with a marked improvement in communication and interoperability,” Air Commodore Watson said.

“Throughout the patrol, both Australian and Indonesian vessels conducted a number of boardings to investigate suspected incursions by fishing vessels.

“The fact that there was a significant reduction in fishing activity within the CORPAT focal area demonstrates that deterrence of illegal activity by the task group was effectively achieved,” Air Commodore Watson said.

Personnel from both navies also had the opportunity to “cross deck” with Australian sailors spending time at sea with their Indonesian counterparts.

Source: http://www.defence.gov.au

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Australia urged to help modernise Indonesia defence

Australia is being urged to support modernisation of Indonesia’s military so that its capability is shaped in a way that suits our interests.

In a new Australian Strategic Policy Institute study, ASPI analyst Benjamin Schreer says that could include improving Indonesian capability to safeguard its exclusive economic zone.

Maritime surveillance could be shared with Australia providing data from its Jindalee Operational Radar Network which can cover almost all of Indonesia.

The study says Indonesia could share data from its new maritime surveillance systems and Australia could share use of the Cocos Islands for maritime surveillance and patrol operations.

Dr Schreer said a democratic, militarily more-outward-looking Indonesia was in Australia’s strategic interest.

“The Australian government should seek to shape Indonesia’s defence capability in a way that suits out interests,” he said.

Dr Schreer said Indonesia had expressed ambitions for an expanded defence force in the past but the military, known as TNI, was far from reaching its plans.

In its 2010 Strategic Defence Plan, Indonesia unveiled plans for a navy of 274 ships and 12 submarines, a modernised air force including 10 fighter squadrons and a more agile army with tanks and attack helicopters – all by 2024.

Indonesian defence spending is increasing but remains modest – US$7.74 billion in 2012 or just 0.86 per cent of gross domestic product.

Plans to lift defence spending to 1.5 per cent of GDP by 2014 won’t be realised.

Dr Schreer said bold declarations were made about procurement plans regardless of available funding, while equipment was acquired without the ability to keep it in service.

“Consequently for the forseeable future TNI will remain an imbalanced, mostly non-deployable force,” he said.

Dr Schreer said Indonesia’s air force plans were of particular interest, given Australia’s strategic goal of maintaining RAAF superiority over regional air forces.

Over the next 20 years, Indonesia will incrementally improve capacity to patrol its airspace and provide transport within the archipelago.

“Yet, it’s highly unlikely that the TNI-AU (air force) will pose any significant operational challenge for a state-of-the-art air force such as the RAAF any time soon,” he said.

Source: ninemsn.com

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Rationale given for NZ community policing assistance to Indonesia

The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully

The New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully

The New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, has defended a US$5 million commitment to a three-year community policing programme in eastern Indonesia, including Papua and West Papua.

The programme, which follows a pilot in 2009/10, is to be funded by the New Zealand aid programme and implemented by New Zealand police.

Murray McCully says his government wants to encourage police and others in authority in the Papua region of Indonesia to understand good commmunity policing initiatives.

“The whole basis of community policing is training people to be able to use their authority in a way that is going to engender respect from the locals. It is precisely the expertise that New Zealand imparts through the community policing project,” he said.

“It’s simply an area that New Zealand has had a long-term interest in providing assistance in. We believe that to the extent that there have been difficulties in relation to Papua, those are best dealt with by encouraging police and others in authority to understand good community policing initiatives. And that’s a capability that we’re providing through the Indonesian government at the moment.”

“It’s one of the great aspects of New Zealand police that we are world-class at community policing and that’s something we’re doing in West Papua,” he explained.

Though the program has been criticized with the Green Party saying New Zealand should instead put resources into facilitating dialogue between the West Papuans and Jakarta, McCully says that he is more broadly aware of a lot of work that is going on in Indonesia at the moment to improve that overall environment and to improve communication in relation to West Papua.

He thinks that the Green Party and others who want to go pointing fingers at difficulties in West Papua need to get themselves updated on the significant amount of work that is being done by parties in Indonesia, in West Papua and Papua to achieve better understanding and to try and improve overall relationships.

“There’s a lot of good work being done, and I want to see the New Zealand government play its part in reinforcing that work, rather than simply standing back, as the critics do, and trying to identify problems,” he said.

Source: Radio New Zealand International

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Abbott warns West Papuan activists

TONY Abbott has issued a stern warning to West Papuan activists, declaring he would not allow Australia to become “a platform to grandstand against Indonesia”.

The Prime Minister’s comments come as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said three West Papuan activists who made a series of political demands at the Australian consulate in Bali left the building voluntarily in a taxi.

Speaking at the APEC summit, Mr Abbott said he wanted to stress “in flashing neon lights” that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia was strong and people seeking to grandstand against the country were “not welcome”.

“We have a very strong relationship with Indonesia and we are not going to give people a platform to grandstand against Indonesia — I want that to be absolutely crystal clear,” he said.

Mr Abbott said Australia respected the territorial integrity of Indonesia, and claimed the situation in West Papua was “getting better, not worse”.

Ms Bishop dismissed suggestions by the Greens that Australian officials threatened to hand three West Papuans over to the police. “I understand that the three men left voluntarily, that there were no threats made at any time,” she told The Australian.

She said the three men delivered a letter to the Australian consulate, spoke with the consul-general, and then telephoned a friend to collect them. She said when the friend could not be reached, they phoned for a taxi.

“I am advised that the consul-general did not make any threats at any time,” Ms Bishop said.

Source: The Australian

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Abbott stresses ‘respect for Indonesian sovereignty’

Australian PM says two countries ‘are determined to end scourge’ of people-smuggling after Jakarta talks

Australia's PM Tony Abbot and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang YudhoyonoAfter weeks of escalating tensions over his hardline “stop the boats” policies, Tony Abbott’s first official visit as prime minister to Jakarta on Monday was marked by a “collegial” tone.

Speaking with Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, at the state palace, Abbott dropped talk of turning the boats around, instead emphasising his commitment to respecting the sovereignty of Australia’s northern neighbour.

Abbott said he had a frank conversation about issues of sovereignty – including the restive province of West Papua – and the talks were “candid, constructive, and collegial”.

“Australia has total respect for Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Abbott, stressing a collaborative, approach to addressing the asylum seeker problem.

“We are resolved together united to tackle this problem and to beat it, on land and at sea, and at the borders of our countries.”

Abbott campaigned hard prior to his election on the promise that he could stop the flow of asylum seeker boats, but his policies to meet this pledge have been the subject of criticism and derision by Indonesian politicians.

Under the so-called Operation Sovereign Borders, Abbott has proposed turning asylum seeker boats around “when safe to do so”, as well as buying boats from Indonesian fishermen and offering them financial incentives for key information about people-smuggling operations.

The Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, had been reported as saying he rejected Abbott’s plans. However, after Monday’s meeting, Natalegawa was diplomatic about future co-operation.

Saying the leaked transcript of his conversation with the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, last week was “behind us”, Natalegawa said that mutual respect for sovereignty would underscore any future agreements on asylum seekers.

Greeted by an Indonesian marching band performing a brassy rendition of the Australian anthem on the palace lawn, Abbott emerged from his meeting with Yudhoyono championing a unified front to combat people smuggling.

“We are determined to end this scourge, which is not just an affront to our two countries but which has so often become a humanitarian disaster in our seas between our two countries,” he said.

Touching on the issue of asylum seekers, President Yudhoyono said that Australia and Indonesia were both “victims” of people smugglers, and that asylum seekers were both an economic and social burden.

Each year thousands of asylum seekers fleeing from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar transit through Indonesia, where they pay people smugglers to ferry them to Australian territory.

Discussing other aspects of the bilateral relationship, Yudhoyono noted that trade between the two countries increased 700% from 2011-2012, and the countries have targeted bilateral trade to hit $15bn in the near future.

Abbott who is accompanied by Bishop, his trade and investment minister, Andrew Robb, and a delegation of Australian businessmen, also stressed the need for greater trade and investment ties.

Abbott praised Indonesia’s democratic transition and thriving economy, noting that in the past Australia had made economic policy mistakes. In an apparent reference to a Labor decision to end live cattle exports he said Australia should “never again take actions that would jeopardise the food supply”.

He continued to apologise for Labor policies at an official dinner in Jakarta later on. He said: “There have been times, I’m sorry to say, when Australia must have tried your patience, when we ‘put the sugar on the table’ for people smugglers, or cancelled the live cattle trade in panic at a TV programme.

“There have been times when all sides of Australian politics should have said less and done more.

“I am confident that these will soon seem like out-of-character aberrations and that the relationship will once more be one of no surprises, based on mutual trust, dependability and absolute respect for each other’s sovereignty under the Lombok treaty.”

As part of his Colombo plan – an initiative to encourage more Australians to study in Asia – Abbott also highlighted the need to strengthen people to people links, and encourage Australia’s best and brightest to fully participate in the Asian Century.

Envisaging continued strong ties between Indonesia and Australia, Abbott said the “best days” of their relationship lay ahead.

Source: The Guardian

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