Indonesia, situated in Southeast Asia, is the world’s largest archipelagic country, comprising around 17,000 islands and inhabited by almost 260 million people, making Indonesia the country with the fourth-largest population in the world. The Republic of Indonesia is blessed with abundant natural resources and cultural heritage.
It is also considered the third-largest democracy in the world, with direct voting for both presidential and parliamentary elections. There were around 190 million registered voters at the last general election, on 17 April 2019, with approximately 150 million turning out to vote directly for the president, vice president, and members of parliament on that day.
With regard to bilateral relations between Indonesia and Italy, throughout the years the two countries have enjoyed a stable partnership. The cordial relations and good friendship between the two countries have flourished since 1949, with Italy being one of the first European countries to acknowledge the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia.
Co-operation between the two countries has continuously shown positive notes, particularly since 2009, when both countries signed a bilateral agreement on Bilateral Consultation Forum. Various high-level official meetings have been held between Indonesia and Italy. At the presidential level, apart from meetings on the sidelines of international conferences, President Sergio Mattarella visited Indonesia on November 2015. This was the first visit to Indonesia by an Italian president, and it served as an important step in advancing bilateral relations.
In addition to numerous exchanges of visits at the ministerial level, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Retno L.P. Marsudi, visited Rome on 9 October 2017, while on 7 February 2018, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Angelino Alfano, visited Jakarta. Undersecretary Manlio Di Stefano also visited Indonesia in December 2018 as Head of Delegation for the Bali Democracy Forum. He also had the opportunity to meet Foreign Minister Marsudi.
I am pleased to note that Indonesia and Italy have enjoyed co-operation in the fields of defence, economics, trade and investment, sociocultural, and tourism. In the economic field, Indonesia and Italy recorded total trade of USD3.76 billion during 2018, USD1.92 billion of which was made up of Indonesian exports to Italy, while Indonesia imported USD1.84 billion. These data make Italy Indonesia’s third-biggest trade partner in the European Union (EU). 2018 also saw USD32.09 million of Italian investment in 187 projects in Indonesia, making Italy the ninth-largest investor from the EU.
Meanwhile, in the tourism sector, Italy is the fifth-largest contributor of European tourists to Indonesia, with 94,232 Italian tourists having come to Indonesia during 2018. This number shows an increase of almost 4.6% on the same period in the previous year.
This year the Republic of Indonesia and the Italian Republic are expected to commemorate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. The two countries will collaborate in various activities to celebrate this historic occasion. We have planned events to be held throughout 2019 that focus on the creative economy and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which have been agreed by both foreign ministers as the themes of this year’s commemoration.
At the regional level, Indonesia acknowledges ASEAN as the cornerstone of Indonesia’s foreign policy. As one of the founding members of ASEAN, Indonesia places great importance on maintaining peace and stability in the region, as well as enhancing co-operation among members of ASEAN, be it in the political, economic or sociocultural sector. This policy also translates to all Indonesian missions abroad, including the Indonesian Embassy in Rome. We always maintain strong friendships and co-operation with all ASEAN missions through the ASEAN Committee in Rome (ACR) and its various events. Together with other ACR missions, we also aim to increase understanding of ASEAN by the Italian public and enhance relations between Italy and ASEAN countries. This is done through many events in co-operation with various institutions in Italy.
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