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PM Speech: State Dinner For Indonesian President

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister

Speech for State Dinner in Honour of the President of Indonesia, His Excellency Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Grand Hall, Parliament Wellington


Wednesday, 6 April 2005
Your Excellency, the President of Indonesia, Honourable Ministers of the Indonesian Government, members of the Indonesian official delegation, Ministers of the New Zealand Government, Leader of the Opposition, Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his delegation. The New Zealand government is honoured to have you visit our country. Although your stay here is short, it is nonetheless of great importance to New Zealand.

Your Excellency, we last met under tragic circumstances. A large part of your country had been hit by the massive tsunami of 26 December. The numbers of people who lost their lives in Aceh and North Sumatra were still mounting. The suffering and devastation was on a profound scale.

Just last week, another earthquake struck Indonesia. Once again, we offer our deepest condolences to you and to the people of Indonesia as you work to rebuild the communities affected by these disasters.

In January, Indonesia’s friends rallied in Jakarta to see what they could do to help. New Zealand was pleased to count itself among that number. I said at that time that New Zealand firmly believes it should be a good neighbour in bad times and in good. The New Zealand public overwhelmingly share this view.

We hope that the work our people were able to do in the emergency phase of the disaster will have helped bring relief and comfort to some. Our military and medical teams have since come home. New Zealand is now working with your government, NGOs, and the international community to help with the rehabilitation and reconstruction effort. We are committed to this over the long term.

Prior to the tsunami, the world’s attention had been focused on Indonesia for very different reasons. Last year, Indonesia conducted no fewer than three major democratic elections, including the first ever direct election of a President. We congratulate you on your election as President and warmly welcome your decision to visit New Zealand so early in your term.

Your Excellency, New Zealand is part of the Asia-Pacific and our closest neighbour in Asia is Indonesia. The dramatic political evolution in your country means that there is much that is positive to build on for the future, and we look forward to working with you and your government to strengthen our ties.

I note that the trend in our trade is positive, but we can work to expand it further. Your country is recording higher growth, inflation is low, investment is on the increase, and Indonesia’s stock market has responded positively to the election outcome. New Zealand needs to be more actively engaged in seeking out economic partnerships with Indonesia.

New Zealand could also do more to build education links with Indonesia. There is clearly scope for more student and academic exchanges. I look forward to greater collaboration between New Zealand and Indonesia in this area too.

The focus of New Zealand’s development assistance programme in Indonesia has been on basic education, rural livelihoods, and governance. Prior to the tsunami, much of the programme concentrated on Indonesia’s eastern islands.

Now we are expanding our programme in Indonesia by fifty per cent, with the new funds directed to reconstruction and development in Aceh and Northern Sumatra.

In recent years, New Zealand and Indonesia have stepped up co-operation between our police forces. We both have an interest in curbing terrorism.

And, through the Bali process, we have worked together to counter illegal migration, trafficking in people, and other transnational crimes. New Zealand strongly supports Indonesia’s leadership in the Bali process, which has provided a unique forum for addressing these complex issues.

Your Excellency, Indonesia’s size, resources, and vision make it a leader in Southeast Asia. Your country’s chairing of ASEAN last year helped set the organisation on an ambitious path towards a new ASEAN Community by 2020. New Zealand welcomes this vision, as we welcome the launch of negotiations for a free trade agreement between ASEAN, Australia, and New Zealand.

We have been a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN since 1975, and were delighted to attend the “commemorative” summit in Vientiane last year, celebrating 30 years of Dialogue partnership.

We wish to lift the involvement with ASEAN to establish more frequent high-level exchanges; to enhance people-to-people links; to deepen our practical co-operation; and to develop a closer dialogue on issues of common concern. In this context, we are studying with positive intent, possible accession to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Co-operation.

In recent years Indonesia has promoted new opportunities for dialogue with New Zealand and other neighbours. We have been pleased to participate in both the South West Pacific Dialogue and in last year’s Interfaith Dialogue. My government has been particularly conscious, in the post September 11 climate, of the need to strengthen relations with nations with significant Muslim populations. Dialogue with Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, is very important to us. Your Excellency, the New Zealand Government hopes that your visit here will help lift relations between our two countries to a new level. We are very pleased to welcome you to New Zealand, and we wish both you and Indonesia well for the future.

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