Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the networking dinner at the Erasmus Huis, Jakarta, 7 October 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
Bapak-Bapak dan Ibu-Ibu, selamat malam,
I thought I’d begin with a few words of the language of my host country.
And please don’t think: oh, I bet he does that in every country he visits.
Because I honestly don’t.
Usually I stick to English.
But for me, Bahasa Indonesia has a special significance.
You see, my childhood was filled with fragments – expressions and words – of your beautiful language.
Before I was born, my mother and father lived in Indonesia for a long time, right up until the late 1950s.
As a child, I was fascinated by their stories of your wonderful country.
I loved the delicious nasi goreng my mother made on Saturdays, and I grew up in The Hague, which is still the most Indonesian city in the Netherlands.
So I have a strong personal connection with your country.
And the same is true of hundreds of thousands of other Dutch people with Indonesian roots.
With that in mind, ‘Connectivity’ seems like the perfect theme for this networking dinner.
Because whether it’s between governments, companies or people, the bonds between our countries are solid.
And they are reflected in all kinds of ways.
Sometimes the connection is literal: earlier I was toasting the centenary of KLM, for example, and the fact that it’s been linking our two countries for many decades.
But our bond is also reflected in our cultural exchange, as can be seen in this marvellous building, the Erasmus Huis, where new connections are made every day, thanks to its rich programme of activities.
In the world of education, too, new connections are forged every year. Since the 1950s, tens of thousands of Indonesians have been to Studi di Belanda.
This year alone, there are 1,500 young Indonesians studying in the Netherlands.
And conversely, many Dutch students choose to go to Indonesia to acquire knowledge and experience.
That’s fantastic, because it means that we not only share valuable knowledge, but we also gain more insight into each other’s way of life, culture and business practices.
What’s more, the alumni of these study programmes – and there are many here tonight – are excellent ambassadors for the opportunities that spring from our partnership.
Take the area of trade and investment.
The Netherlands is already Indonesia’s third-biggest EU trade partner, and its biggest EU investor.
Of course, much of that is linked to fields in which the Netherlands has long excelled, like the maritime sector, agriculture and food security.
But there are also exciting new areas, like the creative industry, where we are collaborating more and more.
And likewise, for Indonesian companies, the Netherlands is the gateway to Europe.
This country exports an enormous amount to the Netherlands.
You can see that in our trade balance, which is firmly in Indonesia’s favour.
For the Netherlands, bolstering our ties with Indonesia is a top priority.
In the next few months, for example, we will be opening a Netherlands Business Support Office in Surabaya.
And I hope the business contacts forged at this dinner will give both our countries’ economic development a boost.
It goes without saying that this must be based on the principles of future-proof development, the circular economy and sustainable agriculture.
After all, we want to make sure that future generations can enjoy the fruits of our close ties.
Because for me, one thing is clear: the Netherlands and Indonesia not only have a long shared history behind us.
We also have a bright shared future ahead.
Let us raise a glass to that. Hidup Indonesia!