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Jakarta Post

New envoys to focus on economic ties

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, February 26, 2016   /  07:50 am

President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo inaugurated on Thursday 10 new ambassadors, who are the last of a group of 33 candidates recently endorsed by the House of Representatives.

Career diplomats and foreign ministry officials are among the new envoys, including former head of state protocol Ahmad Rusdi, who was assigned to an ambassadorial post in Thailand, Mohamad Wahid Supriyadi in Russia, Muhammad Ibnu Said in Denmark, Soehardjono Sastromihardjo in Kenya, Bambang Antarikso in Iraq and Alfred Tanduk Palembangan in Cuba.

Helmy Fauzi and Maj. Gen. (ret.) M. Luthfie Wittoeng, politicians who campaigned for Jokowi in the 2014 presidential election, were assigned posts in Egypt and Venezuela, respectively.

Helmy was a former Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker overseeing the defense and foreign affairs commission and a member of Jokowi'€™s presidential election team, while Luthfie was a former marine and a politician from the National Awakening Party (PKB), which is a member of the ruling coalition.

Representing Indonesia'€™s interests in Egypt, Helmy said he would focus on bringing back the spirit of the Asia-Africa Conference to improve cooperation on trade and investment between Indonesia and Egypt.

He also planned to use the ties to help Indonesia'€™s deradicalization efforts.

'€œIn terms of the deradicalization efforts, Indonesia should also improve cooperation with the Middle East countries,'€ he added.

In response to Jokowi'€™s recent call for envoys to promote Indonesia abroad, Mohamad, the new ambassador to Russia, said he would focus on acting as a '€œmarketer'€ for Indonesia, especially in luring more investors into investing in Indonesia, particularly in the fisheries, and in bringing more Russian tourists to Indonesia, especially after Jakarta has eliminated the need for Russian tourists to apply for visas in advance of arrival.

'€œIt also includes how to find markets for our products,'€ Mohammad said. '€œWe will also boost their investments in fisheries.'€

'€œIn terms of the deradicalization efforts, Indonesia should also improve cooperation with the Middle East countries.'€

Since he took office, Jokowi has instructed foreign ministry officials and diplomats to be able to act as '€œgood marketers'€ and called for them to support his '€œpro-people'€ diplomatic platform, a major shift from the internationalist style of foreign relations emphasized by his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his 10-year tenure.

Mohamad said he was also aware of the Russian people'€™s love of kerupuk (fish crackers).

Russia is the 27th-largest foreign spender in Indonesia, with the bulk of its investments going to hotels and restaurants, according to data from the Foreign Ministry. Indonesia and Russia have also long had military ties, through which Indonesia has procured a number of defense systems from Russia.

Last month, visiting Trade Minister Denis Manturov asked Indonesia to address a number of challenges hampering his country'€™s investments in Indonesia, including in a railway construction project in Kalimantan.

Russia has also expressed an intention to invest in West Kalimantan to build two different smelters in the region.

Two other new envoys inaugurated on Thursday were Husin Bagis to the UAE and Eddy Basuki to Namibia and Angola.