The Jakarta Post
Czech Republic, a leading Central European country, has been enjoying cordial relations with Indonesia, which has the largest economy in Southeast Asia, for a long time. Both countries are determined to take their relations to new heights in the coming years.
“We have excellent relations with Indonesia, especially in the fields of trade, education, tourism and culture,” Czech Ambassador to Indonesia Ivan Hotěk told The Jakarta Post on Oct. 28 on the occasion of the Czech Republic’s National Day celebrations.
This old and cordial relationship has been expanding in scope and size in recent years.
“I am very pleased to mention that our country is ready to collaborate with Indonesia to promote peace and stability at the global level,” Hotěk said.
Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy and a member of the G20, is currently a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Czech Republic and Indonesia have been working closely at various international forums to promote democracy, human rights, free markets, tolerance and peace. The two countries are also working closely to tackle climate change.
“We are very glad that there are no major issues between our two countries and the only thing that we have to do in the future is to strengthen the economic cooperation between our two countries,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said recently.
Despite the geographical distance between Czech Republic and Indonesia, the economic interactions between the two countries are amazing.
“Our bilateral trade is currently around half a billion US dollars. Based on our statistics, the trade is heavily in favor of Indonesia. The bilateral trade will grow further in the future as both countries have huge potential,” Hotěk said.
Czech Republic, a developed European country, exports mainly machinery, automobile spare parts, crystal glassware and many other items to Indonesia and imports products such as rubber, paper, furniture and garments from Indonesia..
Indonesia exported US$343 million worth of goods to Czech Republic while importing $135 million worth of goods from there in 2018.
Around 45 Czech companies, including one of the oldest shoemakers Bata and Home Credit, are currently operating in Indonesia. There are many small and medium-sized Czech companies operating in Bali and other tourist spots in Indonesia.
People-to people contacts, according to Hotěk, have also been on the rise. The number of Czech tourists visiting Indonesia has gone up due to Indonesia’s free visa policy. For example, 19,696 Czech tourists visited Indonesia in 2017. Many Indonesian students are currently studying at top Czech universities, while many Czech students participate in Dharmasiswa programme every year to study at universities in Indonesia. There are around 1,000 Czech nationals living in Indonesia.
According to Hotěk, next year will be a very important year for both countries.
Now, both the Czech Republic and Indonesia are gearing up for big celebrations, as they will commemorate the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations in February next year.
Czech Republic, a member of the European Union, is currently chairing the regional group of Central European countries, called Visegard Group, consisting of Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland under the theme of “Reasonable Europe”.
As an old friend of Indonesia, according to Hotěk, the Czech Republic is always ready to offer help in tough times, such as in case of natural disasters that hit Indonesia during the last year severely.
“We donated 100,000 euros to rebuild four schools in Lombok that were damaged by the 2018 earthquake. The schools were built through Czech NGO Happy Hearts Indonesia,” he said.
Happy Hearts Indonesia was founded by a Czech fundraiser with a vision to rebuild schools in natural disaster-hit and underprivileged areas in Indonesia. The reconstruction of school buildings in Lombok was completed last week.
Hotěk further said the Czech Republic had also donated 400,000 euros when a deadly earthquake and tsunami struck Palu and its surrounding area in Central Sulawesi last year.
“In addition to 400,000 euros, we plan to give another 100,000 euros to build earthquake-proof buildings in Palu,” Hotěk said.
The Czech Embassy, with the help of Czech citizens and businesses, raised $25,000 in a charity event recently. With this money, a school building will be built in East Nusa Tenggara province, also with the help of Happy Hearts Indonesia.
Hotěk said that Indonesia was on the right track of democracy. “I am glad to see the successful elections in April this year. I would like to congratulate President Joko Widodo and his new Cabinet members. We are ready to work with new Cabinet,” Hotěk said.
With a $245 billion GDP and a population of 10.69 million people, the Czech Republic is an industrialized and developed country. Due to an aging population and workforce shortage, Czech companies are desperately looking for countries to invest and establish their factories.
“Rising Indonesia is on the radar of Czech investors. Indonesia has vast natural resources and a huge domestic market of more than 270 million people. We are also ready to train Indonesian youngsters in our country to work in Czech companies in Indonesia,” Hotěk said.
“The future of our relations with Indonesia is very bright”.
Since its foundation on Oct. 28, 1918, the Czech Republic had been a part of a country of the Czechs and the Slovaks, called Czechoslovakia. On Jan. 1, 1993, Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia peacefully, becoming a role model for peaceful coexistence.