Speech Dutch PM Rutte to the Parliament of Republik Indonesia

25 Nov 2016

Speech | 23-11-2016


Your Excellency Mr Speaker,
Your Excellencies deputy speakers, leaders of parliamentary bodies,
Distinguished representatives of the Indonesian people,
Ladies and gentlemen, Bapak-Bapak dan Ibu-Ibu

Before I was born, my parents lived for a long time in Indonesia. So I am one of the many thousands of Dutch people whose family histories are closely bound up with your wonderful country. I grew up with the stories, smells and tastes of Indonesia – in The Hague, which is still the most ‘Indonesian’ city in the Netherlands.
I cherish this family history as a personal legacy.

Ini adalah kunjungan saya yang kedua ke Indonesia. Hari ini saya ingin sampaikan dalam bahasa Anda seperti berikut. Sekali lagi saya merasa tersentuhnya oleh persahabatan dan keramahan yang saya temui, dimana saya berada. Ikatan pribadi dengan negara anda, yang telah terjalin sejak masa remaja saya, kini menjadi semakin kuat.

[This is my second visit to Indonesia and I’d like today to tell you in your own language how much I have again been touched by the warmth, friendship and hospitality I’ve encountered here. My personal ties with your country, which were forged in my youth, have only grown over the past few days.]

But as a child, enchanted by my father’s stories, I could never have imagined that one day I would stand here as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and address the members of the Indonesian parliament. Not only is this a special moment, it is also a special honour. I would like to take this opportunity to make the solid foundations that underpin our relationship even stronger.

Those foundations are deep and go back a long way. Right back to the late fifteen hundreds, when a small Dutch merchant fleet landed at Banten, not far from here. This first contact grew into a broad pattern of economic, social and cultural relations that expanded and intensified over the centuries. It went from trade to administration and colonisation, via the pain of the decolonisation period, all the way to where we are today: two vibrant nations, working together as friends and equal partners. Two countries that look upon their shared history with openness and honesty, as a platform from which to build their common future.

Yesterday I was in the Kota Lama in Semarang where you can still see and feel our shared history. It’s the same in the Kota Tua here in Jakarta.
At these places you get the sense that Multatuli belongs to both of us.

Our legal systems also have a lot in common. Even today, many of our laws are very similar, and we enjoy close ties in the legal field. This parliament’s Commission 3 is currently working closely with Dutch legal scholars on the revision of Indonesia’s Penal Code.

And then there is the Erasmus Huis at the Dutch embassy, where our young people are brought together by music, drama and debate. In this way the links between the past, present and future are preserved.

Looking back at the painful separation that followed the end of the Second World War, we wear – as somebody once said –’the comfortable suit of knowing things better in hindsight’.

It’s true. We now know: it was a bitter process marked by intense violence. And we now realise: it took too long to come to terms with that period.
But in 2005 the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands expressed regret for the many people who were killed or wounded during that period. It has led to this moment, where I stand before you in your parliament, as the representative of a friendly nation that applauds the success that Indonesia and the Indonesian people have achieved over more than seven decades since the Proklamasi and 18 years since the Reformasi.
As I’ve said, this truly is a special moment.

As a historian by training I’m well aware that history is not a closed book. There is great interest in our shared history. And by looking in our rear-view mirror, we can move further down the road to a better future.

Indonesia has entered the twenty-first century with a young and ambitious population, brimming with energy. In the last two decades this country has undergone impressive changes. Poverty has declined, the middle class has grown, civil society has become stronger, and democracy has taken root. In fact, Indonesia is one of the biggest democracies in the world, and the biggest in this region.Today Indonesia is a prominent member of the G20 and the UN and it has assumed a leading role in the region, especially through ASEAN.I salute you for all you have achieved so far.
And I’m convinced your achievements hold the promise of even greater things to come.

When I was here in 2013, Indonesia and the Netherlands agreed on a Joint Declaration on a Comprehensive Partnership.Today President Joko Widodo and I witnessed the signing of several agreements in the fields of vocational training, diplomatic cooperation and the certification of fisheries. But the special relationship between our countries is perhaps even better reflected in our extensive people-to-people and business-to business contacts.

There are many examples. Take the 200 Dutch companies that already operate in Indonesia. Or the 250 academic partnerships between Dutch and Indonesian knowledge institutions, businesses and government institutions. Take the 1,500 Indonesians who are studying in the Netherlands.
Or the tens of thousands of Dutch and Indonesian tourists who explore each other’s countries each year. It’s all proof of a long-standing and strong relationship that hopefully will only become stronger in the years to come.

And that’s precisely why I’ve come to your country again, and why I’ve brought a large delegation from the worlds of business and research.
So that we can take further steps forward. To bolster old ties and forge new ones. To enable us to learn from each other and, by working together, to better address many of the big challenges facing our societies. There is an economic dimension to our mission. But it is also, for example, about the global fight against terrorism, and about how we can protect ourselves from flooding caused by climate change.

There’s no question that our countries already are important economic partners. The Netherlands is one of the biggest EU investors in Indonesia and also one of its main EU trading partners. And I don’t mind admitting that we envy your economy’s growth rate: more than 5 per cent a year, more than twice that of the Dutch economy. President Joko Widodo has often said that Indonesia should be among the world’s top-ten economies by 2025. It’s an ambitious target, but a justified one. With the world’s fourth-biggest population, vast reserves of human and natural resources, a young workforce and a strategic location in Southeast Asia, that is where Indonesia belongs.

I also agree with the President that you need foreign investment and trade to achieve this ambition. These two aspects are the foundations of a stronger economy and they underpin all the changes and improvements that are needed. Better roads, airports and seaports for instance. There is also a clear need for more and better education, especially vocational education. There is scope for raising productivity in agriculture and the fishing industry. Investment is needed in healthcare and other public services. These are all major tasks that call for cooperation. And as I said to the President, your Dutch partners stand ready and willing to work with you.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

Unilever has built a processing plant in Sumatra for plant and animal fats. A large part of its feedstock will be supplied by smallholder farmers.

A Dutch seed breeding company, East West Seed, is working with Indonesian partners to improve Indonesian horticulture.

And there’s the port of Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe, which has just signed agreements with Indonesian partners to develop a number of deep-sea ports in your country.

And of course it goes without saying that the businesspeople, experts and government officials in my delegation all believe that there are many more opportunities we can seize. There’s a lot our countries can and should build on together, and this is especially true in the field of water management.

Water is a fundamental issue worldwide, and it’s becoming a matter of life and death.
The consequences of climate change demand a response: the sea level is rising and we are seeing more extreme weather events around the globe.

It’s not surprising that water is one of the most important areas of cooperation between Indonesia and the Netherlands, because we both face the potentially dramatic effects of climate change. Indonesia is a country at risk, with its more than 17,000 islands and with the heavy subsidence that affects Jakarta. A large part of the Netherlands lies below sea level, so we are at risk as well. Amsterdam Airport, for example, lies four metres below sea level. For many centuries the Netherlands has been fighting to keep the water back. So water management is in our DNA.

Already our countries are sharing extensive knowledge and experience in various projects, on matters ranging from sanitation to irrigation and flood protection. I saw one of them for myself yesterday: the Banger polder in Semarang. Due to urbanisation and the extraction of drinking water, the ground level there has fallen so much that the neighbourhood is at risk of flooding. Indonesia and Netherlands have been working together since 2000 to avert this danger. This partnership is unusual because it concerns not only hydraulic engineering, but also public administration. The unique Dutch model of democratically elected water authorities has been adopted here in Indonesia, and tailored to the local situation.

In Jakarta you’ve started planning an integrated approach to the city’s enormous challenges in the area water management. The reinforcement of the coastline is being combined with improved availability of fresh water and better sanitation for more people. The Netherlands is keen to continue sharing knowledge and expertise to enhance this structured approach. Improving safety must go hand-in-hand with a focus on social and environmental aspects. And bearing in mind the predicted impact of climate change, it’s crucial that we continue to join forces in this area.

And the same definitely goes for our joint fight against terrorism: a global threat against which all democratic countries must form a united front.
We – Indonesia, the Netherlands and all the forces for good in the world – outnumber them. In January this year Jakarta was the target of a bloody attack. Solo, Sumatra Tangerang and Samarinda were also hit. These names must now be added to what has become a long list: Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Hua Hin in Thailand and Dhaka in Bangladesh – I could go on. All around the world, innocent people are being killed by extremists. We cannot and must not accept this.

Indonesia and Netherlands stand shoulder-to-shoulder in this struggle: the Netherlands co-chairs the Global Counterterrorism Forum, in which Indonesia co-chairs the Working Group on Detention and Reintegration. It’s a useful platform for learning from each other and developing new solutions.

Yesterday I was in Semarang, where I visited the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation, and joined a training session of Densus 88.
This special force is expert at disrupting the activities of terrorists. I also visited an impressive project which shows what international cooperation can look like in practice. It’s called Victims’ Voices, and it was established by the Dutchman Max Boon. Max lost both his legs in the Marriott Jakarta bomb attacks in 2009. Since then he has committed himself to the fight against violent extremism.

To prevent future attacks and new victims in Indonesia, the Netherlands and around the world, it’s important that we keep on sharing experiences and addressing the root causes of radicalisation and violent extremism. There’s no other way. And I’m convinced that the MoU which the Indonesian and Dutch counterterrorism agencies have agreed to sign early next year will help us do that. The battle against extremism is one against fear and for human rights. And it’s now more important than ever.

Of course, given the challenges the world is facing today, we need strong ties not only between countries, but also between regions. I believe that the special bond between Indonesia and the Netherlands brings a special responsibility to foster cooperation between ASEAN and the EU. We may be more than 11,000 kilometres apart, yet our shared history, culture and friendship comes with an obligation to strengthen the ties between our regions. . Indonesia is a founding member of ASEAN and a natural leader in Southeast Asia. The Netherlands is a founding member of the EU and in many ways the gateway to Europe.

To the EU and the Netherlands, Southeast Asia is a region of key importance. We should join hands to promote future prosperity and stability.
This October in Bangkok, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders took part in the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting. Here we agreed to work towards an ASEAN-EU strategic partnership. The celebration of 40 years of ASEAN-EU relations in 2017 offers a perfect opportunity to move forward more quickly.

Our countries have already have set a good example. In March the Dutch embassy in Jakarta hosted a regional seminar to address maritime challenges within an ASEAN context. And the Netherlands supports the ASEAN Regional Forum Workshop on Trafficking in Persons, which will be co-chaired by the EU and Indonesia at the start of next year in Indonesia. This shows how the solid relationship between Indonesia and the Netherlands offers opportunities to forge closer cooperation between ASEAN and the European Union.

Ladies and gentlemen, bappa-bappa dan iboe-iboe,

My father, who lived and worked in this beautiful country before the Second World War, lost what was most dear to him during the Japanese occupation: his freedom, and above all his first wife, who did not survive the camp where she was a prisoner. And yet, after the war he returned to the young Republik Indonesia, because he was attached to this country and believed in its people. He lived here until the 1950s. And he often talked to me about this period, his voice filled with passion and a touch of homesickness. He spoke about the energy and the warmth that is so typical of Indonesians. About a country that embraced him and where he was happy. And now that I have been here a couple of times myself, I can understand even better what he meant.

So I thank you with all my heart for giving me the privilege of standing here and speaking to you today; as a son and as a representative of my country. Indonesia and the Netherlands share a great deal, and above all the future.

Thank you, terima kasih.