On 13 March the annual meeting of the European Union Troika and Indonesia took place at the Federal Foreign Office.
Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier headed the European Union delegation. The Indonesian delegation was led by Minister for Foreign Affairs N. Hassan Wirajuda. Mr Manuel Lobo Antunes, Secretary of State at the Portuguese Ministry for European Affairs, was present on behalf of the upcoming Portuguese EU Presidency.
Following the consultations at the Federal Foreign Office, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier said, "Indonesia is a privileged partner of the European Union." He went on to say that as the world's third-largest democracy, Indonesia had made exemplary progress since the end of its dictatorship and had successfully introduced many reform processes. He added that the EU welcomed Indonesia's active efforts to promote inter-Muslim dialogue, as demonstrated in the Indonesian President's most recent initiative to foster dialogue between Sunnis and Shiites in Jakarta. Steinmeier emphasized that "pluralism, equality among religions and the integration of minorities could also serve as a model for other countries".
Steinmeier then pointed out that the EU and Indonesia shared a common view of the world on many issues. He added that this had also prompted the proposal to further intensify bilateral exchange. The intention was, he said, to conclude the current negotiations on a comprehensive partnership and cooperation agreement during the German EU Presidency, if possible.
According to the Federal Foreign Minister, the EU views with great confidence Indonesia's engagement in the international arena, particularly within the context of the United Nations, where the country is currently a member of the Security Council, the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. Steinmeier said, "We are delighted that Indonesia has, so to speak, returned to the international stage."
The consultations initially centred around current international issues, such as Iran's nuclear aspirations and the situation in the Middle East and Iraq. In this context Indonesian Foreign Minister Wirajuda emphasized that his country particularly appreciated the increasing influence of the EU in the Middle East and its role within the Middle East Quartet. The talks also focused on energy and climate-related issues. Indonesia stated that it was interested in more intensive dialogue on questions of energy efficiency and renewable energies.
With regard to the potential of bilateral relations, Dr Wirajuda made clear that Indonesia had blossomed into a functioning democracy which shared common values with the EU. Secretary of State Antunes pointed out that, to allow further intensification of the dialogue, a second annual meeting at senior officials' level had been agreed in addition to the annual Troika meeting at Foreign Ministers' level.
With reference to development in the Aceh region in the wake of the devastation caused by the tsunami and the end of the bloody regional conflict, which the EU and the ASEAN states jointly helped overcome, the Foreign Minister commented on the peaceful, fair and democratic nature of the local elections in Aceh, which had resulted in the creation of "functioning" structures. He expressed his optimism that the people of the region would continue to benefit from these developments.
The Troika meeting took place in the run-up to the 16th EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Nuremberg from 14-15 March, which will be attended by some 40 ministerial delegations from the EU Member States and the 10 members of the ASEAN association. This year marks the 30th anniversary of EU-ASEAN relations.