Speech by minister Blok during visit to Indonesia

Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok during the press conference with the Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta on 3 July 2018.

It’s a pleasure to be here. Senang berada di sini!

Thank you all for the warm welcome, especially foreign minister Marsudi.

Even though I haven’t been in office very long, I’ve already had the pleasure of meeting minister Marsudi three times, in New York, Buenos Aires and here in Jakarta now. To me, this demonstrates the special ties that exist between our countries.

Indonesia is a key partner for NL: it’s the 16th-largest economy in the world, a member of the G20 and a strategic regional player.

Together we’re promoting our economic cooperation. Indonesia is one of our top economic partners. In 2016, our trade in goods amounted to nearly 3.5 billion euros.

Security issues

We also work closely on security issues.

Recently, Indonesia has been hit by a number of horrendous terrorist attacks. Today I again expressed my condolences to Mrs Marsudi and the people of Indonesia.

When it comes to fighting terrorism, Indonesia and the Netherlands face some of the same challenges, such as returnees from Syria and Iraq.

There’s the threat of home-grown extremism, as shown by the tragic attacks in Surabaya in May.

Sadly, terrorism is not new to Indonesia. We all remember the attack on the dance club in Bali and also on the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.

I want to make it clear to minister Marsudi, and to everyone here today: we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the international fight against terrorism.

In a relationship like ours, there is also room for a discussion on human rights, including women’s rights, religious freedom, freedom of the press and the situation in Papua.

We share the same legal DNA. This is why we so actively exchange knowledge between our legal institutions.

Connection

Indonesia is a key partner not only for my country as a whole, but also for the Dutch people individually.

Many Dutch people have a connection to Indonesia. I also have roots in this country.

These people-to-people ties are clearly visible in the field of education. Each year, around 1,500 Indonesians come to study in NL.

Since the 1950s over 20,000 Indonesians have studied in the Netherlands Including, if I might add, Mrs Marsudi herself.

These individual contacts form a solid foundation for our excellent relations.

And in this spirit I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be extending the StuNed Dutch scholarship programme for Indonesian students with two years, until 2021.

Today, we signed a Letter of Intent with Indonesia about cybersecurity.

We agreed to launch a bilateral cyber dialogue to discuss ways of enhancing our capabilities and to share experiences about cyber legislation and protecting vital cyber infrastructure.

Agreements

We also concluded agreements in other areas.

Minister Marsudi and I welcomed joint efforts to protect maritime cultural heritage in the future.

Cultural heritage institutions in the Netherlands and Indonesia will do further research into the sites of the three Dutch shipwrecks located in the Java Sea: the De Ruyter, Java and Kortenaer, and into their future management.

We agree that our countries will work together to protect and keep the three wrecksites as a place of commemorance.

The Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency will implement these agreements on behalf of the Netherlands. The relevant body on the Indonesian side is the National Research Centre for Archaeology (ARKENAS).

Before the end of the year, we aim to assemble a team of experts to draw up a strategy for other Dutch shipwrecks.

Through these initiatives our two countries will join forces to combat illegal salvaging, and help prevent the disappearance of these ships.

Another aim of this partnership is to improve the management of maritime heritage more generally.

Building on agreements

I hope we can build on the many agreements we’ve made today in Jakarta.

Not only here, or in The Hague, but also in New York.

In 2019 Indonesia will begin its term on the UN Security Council.NL has a seat on the Council this year. One of our priorities is enhancing the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions. Reforms are needed. Indonesia has a lot of experience with participating in UN peacekeeping missions. This is why I’ve suggested we work together on improvements.

This is a major issue for both our countries. So with Indonesia on the Council next year, NL can be confident that the work we started will be carried on.

I’d like to thank Indonesia once again for its hospitality, and I look forward to welcoming minister Marsudi as my personal guest in the Netherlands.