In 1946, just after Indonesia’s historic declaration of independence from Dutch colonial rule on Aug. 17, 1945, the so-called “Indonesia Question” was raised for the first time at the United Nations by Jacob Malik, a Ukrainian representing the then Soviet Union. Indonesians always remember Malik’s initiative to internationalize the issue of Indonesian freedom.
It is against this background that growing relations between Ukraine and Indonesia must be seen.
Today, both countries are proudly celebrating the two decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations.
According to Ukraine’s Ambassador to Indonesia Volodymyr Pakhil, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych personally congratulated Indonesian people to mark the occasion.
“With a desire to develop friendship and cooperation in political, economic, cultural, humanitarian and other spheres, Ukraine and Indonesia signed the Joint Communique on establishment of diplomatic relations in Moscow on June 6, 1992,” Ambassador Pakhil told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta last week.
In fact, according to Indonesian Foreign Ministry, Jakarta recognized Ukraine on Dec. 28, 1991, just after its separation from the collapsed Soviet Union. Indonesia opened its embassy in Kiev in 1994, while Ukraine opened its embassy in Jakarta in 1996.
Commenting on his main mission, Pakhil said he wanted to further strengthen the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
“My main mission in Indonesia is to deepen our friendship and cooperation in all sectors. I will go the extra mile to further boost our economic relations, which aren’t commensurate with our two countries’ present economic potential,” Pakhil said.
“Our President is planning to visit Indonesia this year. It is also my mission to ensure the success of this visit,” Pakhil said.
According to Pakhil, the relations between Ukraine and Indonesia have been growing steadily since 1991.
“We have very good relations with Indonesia. We also have a mechanism under the Inter-Governmental Ukarainian-Indonesian Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation to discuss economic and political issues,” Pakhil said.
“So far we have signed 20 agreements and memorandums of understanding in different areas, including an agreement on cooperation between the two countries in space exploration and the use of outer space for peaceful purposes.”
The leaders of both countries, Pakhil said, had a very good rapport between them. Only in March this year both Yudhoyono and Yanukovych met in Seoul on the sidelines of the Nuclear Summit.
“Both presidents discussed the issues of future cooperation in the military, rocket and space fields, tourism and cooperation within international organizations,” Pakhil said.
In the economic field, the relations between the two countries are developing rapidly.
Based on Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency’s (BPS) data, the bilateral trade has surged to US$496.13 million during the first quarter of this year, an impressive growth of 90.37 percent from $260.61 million during the same period last year.
“I am glad to see such high rates of growth in our bilateral trade especially during these difficult times of global financial crisis,” Pakhil said.
In 2011, the total trade volume hit $1.27 billion, a huge jump from $240.25 million in 2003 (see table).
Indonesia mainly exports palm oil, nickel, rubber, paper, animal fats, coffee, tea, plastic, cocoa, spices, electrical equipment, textiles and furniture to Ukraine. Indonesia imports mainly iron and steel products, milk, sugar, gun powder, fertilizers and wheat.
“Ukraine has huge potential with highly sophisticated heavy industries like steel, military hardware, space technology, tourism, fertilizers and modernized agriculture. It also has the finest quality gunpowder, which the Indonesian military requires,” Indonesia’s Ambassador to Ukraine Nining Suningsih Roechadiat told the Post some time back.
Pakhil is optimistic about the future of relations between the two countries.
“ I am sure the relations between our two countries will certainly continue on an upward trend in the coming years. Both countries have huge potential. In order to tap this potential, we have to build a stronger partnership between the two countries, Pakhil said.