Europe eyes closer RI ties with Jokowi-JK

Selasa, 11 November 2014 | 08:47

The European Union (EU) will seek stronger ties with Indonesia under the upcoming leadership of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, since the outgoing Jakarta governor had been elected by the people through a peaceful democratic process.The EU Ambassador to Indonesia, Olof Skoog, said the EU would welcome Jokowi as the leader of Indonesia, the third largest democracy in the world, since the former Surakarta mayor had been elected through a peaceful vote, a democratic process that came into effect 16 years ago after the 1998 ouster of the authoritarian leader Soeharto.

“Indonesia has impressed us because under a democratic system it can achieve remarkable economic growth. The latest elections have proven that Indonesia’s democracy becomes stronger day by day. I think that Indonesia should be proud of it,” he told The Jakarta Post recently.

Jokowi and his running mate Jusuf Kalla won the July 9 presidential election by securing 53.15 percent of the approximately 133 million votes cast. They will be inaugurated on Oct. 20.

Meanwhile, EU deputy ambassador Colin Crooks said that Indonesia and the EU had developed warm and positive bilateral relations under the 10-year leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

A recent result of the relationship during Yudhoyono’s government was seen in the ratification of the EU-Indonesia Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade partnership agreement that gave Indonesia’s timber and timber products a privileged access to the EU market through the receipt of certificates of the Timber Legality Verification System (SVLK), he said.

Crooks said he believed the positive bilateral partnership, especially in trade, would become stronger with Jokowi, who was a furniture manufacturer and exporter in Surakarta, Central Java, after he takes office next week. 

“The bilateral trade and investment between Indonesia and the EU remains good. However, we want to drive their numbers to higher levels. We believe we can do it with Jokowi,” he said.

According to data from the Central Statistic Agency (BPS), the value of goods exported from Indonesia to the EU achieved ¤16.7 billion (US$21.2 billion) in 2013, down from ¤18.0 billion ($22.8 billion) in 2012 and ¤20.4 billion ($25.9 billion) in 2011. Meanwhile, the value of imports from the EU to Indonesia reached ¤13.5 billion ($17.1 billion) in 2013, up from ¤12.4 billion ($15.7 billion) in 2011 and ¤9.8 billion ($12.4 billion) in 2010.

In 2012, trade reached an all-time high and investment by EU companies in Indonesia underpinned more than 1.1 million jobs in value-adding industries such as infrastructure, mining, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and banking.

In the education sector, the EU and its 28 member states provide around 1,250 scholarships each year for Indonesians to study at European universities. The EU awarded scholarships to 90 Indonesian students in 2012 through the Erasmus Mundus program. Indonesian recipients represented the highest number of scholarship recipients in Southeast Asia.

Crooks said that he had discussed future partnerships on education with members of Jokowi’s transition team, such as Andi Widjajanto and Alexandra Retno Wulan.

Olof said he hoped Jokowi could maintain positive relations with the House of Representatives, which is dominated by lawmakers from the Red-and-White Coalition led by Prabowo Subianto, Jokowi’s rival in the presidential election.

Diplomatic relations between European countries and Indonesia began in 1949, while the EU delegation to Indonesia first opened its doors in 1988. (alz)