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Clark Speech: Official Dinner In Indonesia

Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister

Address to Official Dinner hosted by
the President of Indonesia
Istana Negara

7.30pm, 6 May 2002
(12.30am, 7 May 2002 NZ time)

Madame President, Taufik Kiemas, Ministers and distinguished guests.

I am delighted and honoured to be your guest at this splendid banquet.

Although this is not my first visit to Indonesia, it is my first as Prime Minister of New Zealand. Madame President, I am grateful to you and your government for your hospitality and for all you have done to make my visit here successful.

The things that initially strike a New Zealand visitor to Indonesia are the contrasts. There is much that is different between our two countries. In sheer size and scale, we could scarcely be more unlike each other, and our geography, history, cultures, and languages are very different.

That being said, we also share much in common. Most important for the relations between us, we are neighbours. We both belong in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. We have a shared interest in our region being both peaceful and prosperous in the 21st century.

Madame President, New Zealand knows that Indonesia wishes to strengthen its relations with the countries of the Asia-Pacific, including with New Zealand, and we welcome that. We need, as neighbours, to work together for the common good of our region. New Zealand looks forward to closer co-operation with Indonesia in the many regional forums of which we are both members.

Our region and the world face many difficult issues at this time. During my talks here, we have been able to discuss ways of dealing with those issues. New Zealand will continue to work with Indonesia and other nations in the region on the pressing issues of people smuggling and terrorism.

Indonesia faces challenges which are infinitely more complex than those facing New Zealand. We have watched since 1998 as Indonesia has embarked on its democratic transition, while grappling with the demands of a highly expectant nation as to what this new system can deliver. The shadow cast by the region wide economic crisis of 1997/98 has made this an especially difficult period for Indonesia.

New Zealand understands that Indonesia is embarked on a path of political and economic reform which requires courage and vision. We wish you well as you seek to move forward with your reforms and improve your country’s well-being. We will do what we can, as a small country, to support you in these endeavours.

Last year New Zealand and Indonesia agreed on a new approach for our development assistance programme here. Our funding will increase by fifty per cent, and our emphasis will be on poverty alleviation, especially in the eastern provinces. We will also support the government reform process and the strengthening of judicial, human rights, and other institutions. New Zealanders are working directly with their Indonesian counterparts in the area of the government audit office and the Indonesian Office of the Ombudsman.

New Zealand is contributing to the Partnership for Governance Reforms, comprising the Government of Indonesia, international donors, and civil society organisations, which is providing leadership in the area of judicial reform. These projects are modest, but we are keen to work in areas which will strengthen key pillars of the democratic system.

In this, and other fields, such as our growing trade and economic relationship, we look forward to strengthened ties between our two countries. We are delighted that the number of Indonesian students studying in New Zealand is growing. Over time, we know that this will raise the level of awareness about New Zealand in Indonesia, as well as contribute to Indonesia's development. People-to-people links help us to understand each other better.

I now ask you to toast the health of the President and people of Indonesia, and the expansion and deepening of relations between our countries.


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