Indonesia’s President on an Official Visit to Germany

Watch Indonesia!e.V.
10967 Berlin

Berlin, 3rd March 2013

Press Release and Call to Action

ITB – Partner Country Indonesia

When it comes to the bilateral relations between Germany and Indonesia, the future of the people and the environment in Indonesia must take priority over economic and military interests.


Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

photo: Jörg Meier

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), the Minister of Foreign Affairs Marty Natalegawa, and other high-ranking representatives of the Indonesian government are expected to arrive in Germany on an official visit today. Their presence is the result of an official invitation from the Federal President Gauck. So far meetings have been organised with Gauck, as well as with the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and the Minister of Economic Affairs Philipp Rösler.

German-Indonesian relations have not been in top form over the last few years. Sensibilities tended to get in the way. Indonesia’s President was affronted by the EU’s decision to prohibit national airline Garuda Indonesia’s flights from landing due to safety concerns. Furthermore, German political and economic interests in Asia seemed to be more focussed on China whilst Indonesia, a proud member of the G20, received only minimal attention.

SBY last paid a visit to Germany in 2009; a stopover on his way to the summit on climate change in Copenhagen. The result was disappointing. Not a single German newspaper even mentioned the visit. A video of the joint press conference held between President SBY and Federal Chancellor Merkel was only available online.  It was clear that the two didn’t have much to say at the time.
In recent months however, bilateral relations between both countries have improved noticeably. During a visit to Southeast Asia in 2011 Minister of Foreign Affairs Westerwelle was uninvited to an event, the official reason given blamed conflicting engagements. Since then, German-Indonesian relations have experienced a fresh start and are currently blossoming.

The situation has continued improved as a result of German readiness to support the export 103 Leopard-Tanks from the company Rheinmetall to Indonesia. The Netherlands rejected a similar bid by Indonesia pointing to the human rights situation in Papua.

In July 2012, Federal Chancellor Merkel travelled to Jakarta where she signed an extensive bilateral cooperation agreement between the two countries, the Jakarta Declaration. In January 2013, Niebel, the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, visited Indonesia. He was followed shortly afterwards by Westerwelle, the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, who travelled to Solo and Jakarta. This visit had to be ended prematurely due to reasons relating to death and bereavement.

So far very little is known about the details and specifics of what topics will be addressed in Berlin. However, it is almost certain that further arrangements will be met on the basis of the Jakarta Declaration, especially in relation to the pending arms deal and German’s possible support for the strengthening of Indonesian armed forces for the purpose of so-called UN peacekeeping operations.

Watch Indonesia! welcomes the intensification of bilateral relations. However, we urge that these relations aren’t ruled by economic and military interests, but rather by the mutual interest in a better future for the people and environment in Indonesia.

The timing of the official visit is the opening of the International Tourism Exchange (ITB), the largest tourist exhibition in the world. This year Indonesia is the official partner country of the exhibition and is presenting itself with the motto ‘Wonderful Indonesia’ in a hall of its own at the exhibition area. According to the briefing, the provinces of Papua and West Papua, a region to which foreign journalists and human rights organisations are denied access, will receive special focus.

Watch Indonesia! supports the increase of travel activity to Indonesia, and especially to Papua and West Papua.  We wish to do our part to ensure that as many tourists as possible visit Indonesia with critical minds, enabling them to contribute to the further development of the country in positive directions.

Naturally, every country will try to present itself in the best possible light at such an exhibition. However, we feel the need to use every opportunity to draw attention to the many failures and weaknesses of the partner country. In comparison to the political interests of the federal government and the commercial interests of the exhibitors at the ITB, our attention is focussed on the people and environment in Indonesia.

We invite you to come and visit us at our ‘Watch Indonesia! Tours and Travel” stand at the ITB opening ceremony, where we will offer you a variety of travel packages and tours which you would otherwise miss out on in the exhibition halls. You will find us in front of the main entrance to the ICC in Berlin, on the 5th of March from 5pm onwards.

Alex Flor:  Tel. +49 30 – 69817938, HP +49 160 – 92800679
Basilisa Dengen:  Tel. +49 30 – 69817938, HP +49 176 – 35457871

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