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The Warsaw Voice » Other » December 6, 2006
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December 6, 2006   
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Hazairin Pohan, Indonesia's ambassador to Poland, talks with Leslie Sheldon.

What is the state of bilateral relations between Jakarta and Warsaw? In which areas do the two countries cooperate closely politically? And where do positions differ significantly?
We enjoy excellent relations with Poland which have been deepened and made stronger by democratic changes in both countries and the exchange of visits by our respective presidents. President Megawati visited Poland in 2003. President Kwaśniewski visited Indonesia in 2004 and Prime Minister Belka in 2005.

During this time, Indonesia and Poland have signed 10 different agreements in defense, military-technical and economic fields of activity. We have established a mechanism for the exchange of views on major global issues through the Bilateral Consultation Forum. The first such meeting took place in 2005. Poland is a large country and a very important player in the region, therefore, we welcome the exchange of views on a range of subjects from security and organized crime to reform of the United Nations and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), among others. We also welcome Poland to ASEAN where countries in Europe and Asia discuss issues that affect both continents. Now Poland has an opportunity to raise its own agenda in ASEAN.

Of course, we differ on some issues such as Iraq but this does not present an obstacle to even further cooperation between the two countries in the future. In fact, Poland's experience in dealing with new threats in its peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and Iraq would add to our own knowledge.

In which branches of the economy is Indonesian-Polish cooperation most intense?
Trade relations between the countries are good and growing. The current turnover of trade between Poland and Indonesia is 425 million dollars. Poland is now Indonesia's second-largest market in Central and Eastern Europe, after Russia.

Indonesian companies export hi-tech products, telecommunications equipment, fabrics, clothes, footwear, furniture and paper. Poland supplies us with machinery, civil engineering equipment, steel products and electrical goods. But Poland has even more competitive goods to offer us.

We also see very good opportunities for Polish companies looking to supply mining, electrical, agricultural and food processing equipment. And, with its advantages in technology and know-how, as well as financial support, Poland may easily become an important player in Indonesia, especially in steel and shipbuilding, underground and opencast mining equipment, chemical industry, building and construction machinery, food processing plants and environment protection equipment and know-how.

The two countries benefit from very strong cooperation in the area of military technology know how and products. Indonesia receives assistance in the building of small aircraft (skytrucks) and we buy helicopters from Poland as well as patrol ships from the Gdynia shipyards. And we have new investment projects in the pipeline, around 1.2 billion dollars for coal reserve exploration in mining and coal-based power plants in Kalimantan that is being developed with Polish knowledge and expertise.

In order to facilitate easy trade and communications, the Indonesian government has granted Visa on Arrival for Poles. It is valid for 30 days and easily obtained at any international airport and ports in Indonesia.

We are also going to revitalize the bilateral Joint Economic Sessions for addressing all issues related to trade and economic matters. And we shall launch an Indonesian-Polish Business Council to complement these sessions and which we believe will help us improve business relations between the two countries.

Global terrorism is a key issue for international security. How is this problem tackled by Indonesia, with a majority Muslim population which has radical and separatist tendencies?
Let me begin by saying that Indonesia strongly condemns acts of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. We believe that the most important task to deal with terrorism is to construct a legal foundation that protects the interest of the public but at the same time defends human rights. A number of very high profile and public trials have taken place in Indonesia and those found guilty have received very severe sentences, including the death sentence. The Indonesian National Police has also done an excellent job in arresting the perpetrators of terrorist activity and uncovering terrorist networks.

On an international level, Indonesia takes part in UN conventions and ministerial meetings. We also take part in bilateral discussions with countries such as Australia, the United States and now Poland. Poland has good knowledge of dealing with weapons of mass destruction which is very important for our counter-intelligence units, and first-hand experience of combating terrorist activities in the theater of war, having provided troops in Iraq.

Poles are increasingly willing to travel. And, Indonesia, especially places such as Bali, are very popular. Do you see Poles becoming important for Indonesian tourism?
The number of Poles visiting Indonesia is on the increase, 5,000 per year at present, but it has some room for growth.

The most popular destinations for Polish tourists are Bali, Lombok and North Sulawesi, which are the world's best places for diving and snorkeling. Java and Komodo islands also offer many tourist attractions. And Poles are becoming more interested in Sumatra as a destination for holidays. Our potential in the eco-tourism industry is unlimited.

We also organize familiarization trips for Polish tour operators and travel journalists, and we expect to see more offers for Polish tourists in the future.

Indonesian culture is promoted in Warsaw by institutions such as the Museum of Asia and the Pacific. Are there any cultural events planned in the near future in which the embassy is taking part?
On Dec. 14 , we shall mark Indonesia Day at the Institute of Middle and Far East at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow [with] traditional Indonesian dances.
And in 2007 the embassy will conduct exhibitions and performances in arts, Batik exhibition and fashion shows, martial arts, food festivals, an Indonesian movie festival and many more.

In addition, since 1995 the Indonesian government has granted annual scholarships for young Polish people to study the Indonesian language and arts in Indonesia for one year. So far 50 Polish young people have accepted the scholarships, and they contribute in the development of Indonesian arts and culture in Poland.

We are also committed to the implementation of our new bilateral Agreement on Cultural and Education Cooperation. And, in this regard, I believe it is urgent for us to establish an Indonesian Cultural Center in Warsaw within two years.

Hazairin Pohan:
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia to the Republic of Poland
Born: 1953
Education: Master of Law, University of North Sumatra, Medan, Indonesia, 1980
Foreign Service Course, 1982
Master of Arts in Political Science, University of Washington, Seattle, U.S., 1985
Foreign languages: English, Russian, French
Foreign Service Assignments:
1. Staff, Directorate of International Law and Treaties, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) 1980-1985
2. Second Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Moscow 1986-1989
3. Deputy Director, Research and Development Bureau, DFA 1989-1992
4. First Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Sofia 1992-1996
5. Deputy Director/Counselor, Legal and Organizational Bureau, DFA 1996-1998
6. Minister Counselor, Indonesian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York 1998-2002
7. Director, Directorate for Central and Eastern European Affairs, DFA 2002-2006
8. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia to
the Republic of Poland
Marital Status: Married with four children
Hobbies: Reading, music (playing guitar), traveling, golf
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