Speech by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a meeting of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), Jakarta, 7 October 2019

Mr Chair, Pak Dino, thank you for your kind introduction.

And thank you for inviting me here to speak about the cooperation between our two countries.

And about anything else you may wish to discuss.

Because shortly it will be up to you – ladies and gentlemen – to decide what we’re going to talk about.

So it’s good to see you all here today.

I’m sure we’re going to have a fascinating conversation.

First, I’d like to say that it’s wonderful to be back in Indonesia.

Not least because it’s a beautiful country – vast, diverse and intense.

A nation of islands that, to quote the great writer Multatuli, ‘winds about the equator like a garland of emeralds’.

So it’s no surprise that tens of thousands of Dutch visitors travel here every year to experience all that Indonesia has to offer.

But this country’s biggest asset is its people.

It’s the energy and warmth that’s so typical of Indonesians.

I feel it whenever I’m here, just as my father felt it when he lived here.

This country and its people gave him real joy, and even after the horrors he saw during the Second World War and the Japanese occupation, he still chose to settle here again.

Together with my mother he lived in the young Indonesian republic until the late 1950s.

And although this was all before I was born, I grew up enchanted by their stories.

In my childhood home, the longing for Indonesia was never far away.

So, in a way, Indonesia is the country that defined my youth, even though I was an adult before I actually set foot on Indonesian soil.

I grew up with Indonesian words and expressions, with the taste of my mother’s nasi goreng in my mouth, and with the stories my parents told of this magical country.

And of course, I grew up in The Hague – the most Indonesian city in the Netherlands.

So my bond with your country is very personal.

And the same is true for hundreds of thousands of Dutch people with Indonesian roots.

I believe our common future - based on such personal relations and networks - has a lot to offer.

Because however different our countries may be, in many ways we share the same outlook and interests.

And we face the same challenges.

One of those challenges is fundamental: the multilateral system of international cooperation is under pressure.

Mainly because a few big, powerful players are taking highly individualistic positions on the world stage.

The US is an obvious example but – perhaps more importantly for this region – so is China.

It is assuming a more active and assertive role and expanding its influence.

For countries like the Netherlands and Indonesia, this poses a risk.

And a challenge, as well.

We need to put all our energy into cooperation and the rules-based international order.

For the Netherlands, for example, that means European cooperation is now more important than ever.

It means we have a responsibility to cherish that cooperation and improve it.

I’m delighted that the EU is really concentrating on the essentials now.

I firmly believe that ‘less is more’.

Because you don’t achieve unity by simply doing more in more areas.

You achieve it by doing things really well in a few important areas.

That way you attain the greatest possible value for people, and you speak with one voice on the world stage.

Focusing on the essentials makes it easier to keep both feet on the ground in this stormy global environment.

In a way, Indonesia faces the same challenge.

You are also dealing with a changing international arena.

You are also feeling the pressure on multilateralism.

You can feel the geopolitical plates shifting beneath you.

And although our situations are very different, I see clear parallels in how we’re responding to that challenge.

Through ASEAN, Indonesia is also opting for regional cooperation.

The recently agreed ASEAN ‘Indo-Pacific Outlook’, based on an Indonesian initiative, is a fine example.

It shows the ambition of a region that is seeking to boost coordination and cooperation, and reduce mistrust and miscalculation.

And that’s the right choice, because by standing side by side at regional level, we can truly make our voices heard at global level.

ASEAN is proof of that, and so is the EU.

What’s more, I am convinced that the impact of the EU and ASEAN can be magnified if we, as regional blocs, reach out to each other more.

We already work together in many areas, like human rights, research and technology.

We are also united on many international issues.

I believe that the next step should be for the EU to become a Strategic Partner of ASEAN.

And I hope that this process can be concluded quickly.

The Netherlands will continue working to foster a solid bond between our regions.

And with that in mind, I’m delighted that we’ve been invited to attend the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi next spring.

Ladies and gentlemen, my parents’ generation is gradually leaving the stage.

But it’s great to see a new generation emerging which, in its own unique way, is working to strengthen the future bond between the Netherlands and Indonesia.

The young people who meet each other on social media, or via university exchange programmes.

Who consider it natural to share ideas, knowledge and experiences with each other.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet them today and on previous visits.

And there are many young people present here this evening.

I find that encouraging.

It gives me confidence that our two countries can look forward to a shared future full of promise.

Terima kasih banyak.