One of the best things about working in Indonesia is the fact that I have lots of opportunities to travel around the country and get to know different parts of this beautiful archipelago. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to travel with several of my Delegation colleagues to Lombok. This time it was not for a family holiday, though. The Indonesian Foreign Ministry decided to hold our annual EU-Indonesia Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) there so it was a working visit, as well as a good chance to see more of the diversity of this wonderful country.
“Diversity” is also a good way to describe the agenda of the EU-Indonesia relationship. We could see this in the agenda for our talks, which ranged from how to promote trade and investment between the EU and Indonesia, to how the EU can best support Indonesia’s education sector and the fight against climate change, to how we can best work together on promoting peace and security in South-east Asia and beyond.
We had about a dozen officials on the EU side, mostly staff from our Delegation in Jakarta, but led by the Managing Director for Asia in the European External Action Service, Viorel Isticioaia Budura, who is a frequent visitor to this part of the world. Our host, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dian Triansyah Djani, led a team of 50 or 60 Indonesian officials drawn from a wide range of ministries and agencies in Jakarta. The large number of attendees shows how many areas of policy in Indonesia are affected by working with the EU. These meetings are a very good opportunity to get to know our counterparts and build fruitful relationships for the year ahead.
This year’s talks were special: the Indonesia-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) has just come into force, and both sides were able to discuss how we can upgrade the relationship and expand even further the range of issues on which we work together. We also had a chance to look ahead to the new Government in Indonesia, which will come into office at almost exactly the same time as the new European Commission in Brussels. So hopefully, when we meet again next year, we will have even more cooperation to celebrate. Though, unfortunately, that will probably be in Brussels, which is not quite as pleasant as Lombok!