Outgoing envoy oversees increased ties
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Bilateral ties between Russia and Indonesia have seen an increased intensity of activity in practically all fields in the past five years, yet the outgoing Russian envoy says the relationship can be even stronger.
Ambassador Alexander A. Ivanov told The Jakarta Post at the embassy Wednesday that in the five-and-a-half years he was stationed in Jakarta, there had been increasing intensity of political contact, economic interaction and rising trade volume as well as people-to-people contact.
Starting his assignment on March 5, 2007, Ivanov only had a few months to prepare for the historic visit of President Vladimir Putin in September that led to the creation of a strategic partnership.
“We signed eight bilateral documents that are the legal basis for our cooperation,” he said. “The documents covered cooperation in political, economic, cultural and other fields.”
He admitted that not all cooperation went smoothly. “Good results cannot be achieved by diplomatic smiles alone but also require hard work.”
In the political realm, Putin and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had met twice this year at international meetings in Los Cabos and Vladivostok, Ivanov said. Both presidents, as well as their respective foreign ministers, had regular phone conversations, he added.
“Both countries have similar or very close approaches to international and regional issues such as the Middle East, the Arab Spring phenomenon, the Iranian nuclear program and Asia-Pacific situation,” the envoy said.
In the economic and investment field, Ivanov had previously announced a number of investments planned by Russian companies.
Russian Railways plans to build a railway in East Kalimantan to support coal delivery with an investment of US$2.4 billion, while Norilsk Nickel and Russky Aluminiy plan to build copper and aluminum smelters, respectively, with a total investment of about $4 billion.
On the other hand, Ivanov welcomed Indonesian companies to tap huge oil and gas reserves in the Russian Far East and Siberia.
He added that two business councils had been set up in Moscow and Jakarta to provide information on opportunities in both countries.
Finding sop buntut (oxtail soup) as his favorite Indonesian dish, Ivanov said that he had also worked in fostering cooperation between Muslims in both countries.
“Not all people realize that Russia has 25 million Muslims such as in Tatarstan and autonomous republics in North Caucasus,” he said. “We have good contacts with Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.”
Commenting on the controversial anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims, Ivanov said authorities had prevented the movie from being shown on Russian websites.
Ivanov stressed that Russia was ready to go as far as the Indonesian side was ready to develop Indonesian defense industries.
“Transfers of technology and joint production is the logical next step in defense cooperation,” he said.
“We have submitted several proposals to Indonesia, such as setting up service centers for Sukhoi fighter jets and BMP-3F light tanks.”
The response, however, had been a little bit slow, Ivanov claimed, and he would like to see it expedited.