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Jakarta Post

Jokowi talks defense with Merkel

  • Rendi A. Witular

    The Jakarta Post

Brisbane, Australia   /   Mon, November 17, 2014   /  10:30 am
Jokowi talks defense with Merkel

Seeking timely action: Protesters carry clocks to show that time is running out during an event designed to draw attention to the global Ebola crisis in Brisbane, Australia, on Saturday. Several protests have been organized in connection with the G20 summit. AFP/Greg Woodsk

President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo wrapped up his nine-day overseas trip on Sunday with high expectations in regard to Indonesia'€™s role in the international community setting a new path for Indonesia'€™s diplomacy with the priority he has placed on his maritime-axis doctrine.

On his last stop in Brisbane, Australia, on the sidelines of a summit of the world'€™s 20 biggest economies, known as the G20, Jokowi held separate bilateral meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France'€™s President Francois Hollande and Turkey'€™s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Aside from introducing his marritime doctrine, launched during the East Asia summit in Myanmar on Thursday, Jokowi sought defense cooperation from Merkel.

According to Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto, Indonesia would expect a transfer of technology in maritime-defense systems.

'€œWith Germany, the President emphasized in the discussion the defense industry. As we'€™ve already purchased [German-made] Leopard tanks, we sought more cooperation that will enable us to also receive transfers of technology to our defense industry,'€œ said Andi.

Jokowi said late on Friday that there would be an immediate and significant increase in the budget for the Navy in line with his maritime doctrine that requires Indonesia to play an active role in ensuring navigational and regional security.

'€œThe doctrine will remain on paper if we don'€™t buy more submarines, as well as patrol and combat vessels,'€ said Jokowi, who assumed the presidency less than a month ago.

While there has been an increase in the budget for the Navy in the last five years, most of the defense budget has flowed to the Army.

After the meeting with Merkel, Jokowi met Hollande and explored how France could participate in the construction of maritime infrastructure.

'€œWith France, we'€™ve agreed to form a working group to explore untapped cooperation,'€ said Andi.

Another issue discussed with France and Germany revolved around Indonesia'€™s efforts to combat the proliferation of Islamic State (IS) followers.

'€œThere are between 60 and 70 Indonesians currently fighting with IS in Syiria. France and Germany are demanding intelligence exchanges to help stamp out the movement,'€ said Andi.

As to the meeting with Turkey, Andi said further economic cooperation should be explored as the volume of two-way trade between the two nations remained low.

Earlier on Saturday, Jokowi made his first speech during a so-called G20 retreat, attended by US President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, among others.

Aside from introducing himself to the leaders and telling them of his political journey as mayor of the small city of Surakarta, Central Java, to governor of Jakarta, Jokowi pointed out his success in reforming the bureucracy and streamlining business licenses.

Jokowi also boasted of his success in reforming the tax system in Surakarta and Jakarta, leading to a rise in tax revenues.

Tax reform was among the many themes discussed by leaders during the summit.

'€œMy achievements while leading the two cities were not a result of bringing in a new system. I merely introduced an approach that enabled me to talk directly to the people,'€ Jokowi told the gathered leaders.

Jokowi also laid out his short-term priorities for his administration, which include attempts to increase the country'€™s competitiveness by easing business-permit processing through the establishment of national one-stop service offices.

'€œWithin the next six months, we will have integrated investment licensing that can be accessed online,'€ he said.

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