Moroccan ambassador says
democracy in RI will endure

Moroccan Ambassador to Indonesia Abderrahmane Drissi Alami, who has served as a true friend to Indonesia and played a significant role in increasing trade volume and improving bilateral relations, will return to his home country shortly having completed his tenure.

"Moroccans do not need any visas to visit Indonesia and vice versa for Indonesians. This is an example of our good relationship," Ambassador Alami told The Jakarta Post in an interview at his office in Jakarta recently.

Alami, who submitted his credentials to then president Megawati Soekarnoputri on July 3, 2003, is leaving Jakarta and his many Indonesian friends having completed his long diplomatic tenure here.

Alami said Morocco was pleased with the Indonesia offered it during its stint as a nonpermanent member of United Nations and in other international forums.

"Morocco and Indonesia are very good friends. We have so many similarities. We cooperate regularly at international forums. We don't have any problems in our relationship," Alami, a career-diplomat, said.

"We have the same dreams about our future and we are facing the same challenges, namely separatism and terrorism."

Morocco and Indonesia are cooperating in the fight against separatism and terrorism.

"We share the same view about separatists for example. You know that separatism splits your country and also my country," he said.

Alami's tenure as ambassador saw many developments in the countries' bilateral relations.

The countries organized the first Joint Commission Meeting in June 2008 in Rabat. Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda and his Moroccan counterpart Taieb Fassi-Fihri attended the meeting and signed several agreements.

"The Joint Commission is an important forum, where both countries' leaders regularly exchange their views on bilateral, regional and international issues. Both countries signed several agreements at the meeting to strengthen our cooperation in various fields," Alami said.

Alami said the discussions had strengthened economic, cultural and technical cooperation and had avoided double taxation.

"All these agreements have provided us with a legal framework to boost our bilateral cooperation," Alami said.

During his visit to Rabat, Hassan praised Morocco for its willingness to solve the issue of Moroccan Sahara (also known as Western Sahara) through dialogue and peaceful means under the auspices of the United Nations.

Moroccan Sahara, an area under Moroccon rule, has been facing a revolt under the leadership of rebel group Polisario Front, which is based in Algeria.

"We appreciated Indonesia's stance on the Moroccan Sahara issue at the UN Security Council when it was a non-permanent member. So we have been quite happy with the achievements of Indonesia in the Security Council during these two years (2007 and 2008) when it comes to our Sahara issue," he said.

Trade between Morocco and Indonesia, which remains relatively small in volume, has shot up in the last six years

"During the last six years, our trade has tripled," Alami said.

Bilateral trade surged to US$125 million in 2007 from $35.99 million in 2003. Indonesia is dependent on Morocco and other North African countries for phosphate, a main ingredient in fertilizer.

"We are the number one supplier of phosphate to Indonesia. Last year, we signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia to establish two companies - one in Indonesia and one in Morocco - to produce fertilizer and gas," he said.

Alami has convinced Indonesian and Moroccan businesspeople to explore business opportunities each other's country.

"During my stay here, we have had numerous Moroccan business delegations visit Indonesia and vice versa. We have a special relationship with the European Union. Indonesian companies can use Morocco as a production base to export to Europe under a tax free facility," he said.

He described his stay in Indonesia as "wonderful".

"All these years I have felt at home in Indonesia."

"I never felt at any time that I was a foreigner, perhaps because I am a Muslim but perhaps also because I look like an Indonesian. My Indonesian friends never treated me as a foreigner."

Alami said he and his family had visited numerous places in Indonesia.

"Of all the places, of course Bali is number one. We like it very much," Alami, who speaks a reasonable level of Indonesian, said.

He was also Dean of Arab diplomats.

"I am very glad Indonesia has shown a special interest in Middle Eastern affairs. As a dean of

Arab diplomats, I had a very good rapport with Indonesian officials," Alami said.

Alami has improved his tennis game through regular sessions with Indonesian friends at the Sultan Hotel. He also likes swimming.

When asked about his personal view of the future of Indonesian democracy, Alami said Indonesia would remain a strong democratic nation.

"So I'm quite confident that democracy now in Indonesia is sustainable in the long term. I hope for good," Alami said.

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