Dr.Thorsten Hutter, Deputy Ambassador as the Head of Mission – Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, spoke to SOROTAN`s Anisa Kirana and Iwan Nasution about how German-Indonesian relations might progress following presidential elections in 2014. The secret why German companies fare so well in Indonesia, and the recent JERIN Festival 2013.
“The relationship between Germany and Indonesia is a very strong and broad one”, the morning conversation started with such convincing statement and Dr.Thorsten Hutter emphasised on how he was happy toward recent years bilateral visits. In 2009 and 2013, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited Germany, former German President Christian Wulf made his presence in Indonesia in 2011 and year 2012 was another moment to have Chancellor Merkel coming to Indonesia. It is now a picture of a relationship that goes beyond economics, political, cultural domains and also a people-to-people level.
Based on 61 years of diplomatic relations, enhancing and keeping this relationship are considerably important. Hutter is sure that Germany and Indonesia have to look toward the future and think on which part to improve. Real actions have been done; The Jakarta Declaration which agreed by Chancellor Merkel and President Yudhoyono can be said as a roadmap for the bilateral relations. It reflects broadness of the relation itself, as it covers political, economy and even socio-culture matters. Following the Jakarta Declaration, the German-Indonesian advisory has also met in Berlin for the first time as a momentum to see progress that has been made and to know what is more to do.
Germany creates products in excellent quality and German communities in Indonesia are huge ones; from developmental experts, representatives of cultural institutions, political foundations and other communities that basically love to live their lives in Indonesia. Hence, positive basis is already supported in Indonesia for the two countries bilateral relationship. Around 300 German companies exist in Indonesia; they are in the country because it is conducive for companies` movement as well as giving back in return to Indonesia by implementing good business.
The most attractive aspects of Indonesia for those German companies are because of its large population and potential economic development which is very positive; huge number of companies believes on an increase in economic growth and middle class expansion. Moreover, Indonesia plays an active and decisive role in Asia – both APEC Summit and WTO meeting were held in the country, which then become engines for endorsing root-level efforts in creating more incentives for trade and investment.
German companies are quite good at being abroad due to extensive international experience and natural sense of real entrepreneurs that they acquire. At first thought, problems that might be faced were already inside their consideration; German companies have realised that cultural misunderstandings, language barriers, different rules and standards, along with distinctive ways of handling certain regulations and procedures are inevitable complications to be abroad. Nevertheless, Germans basically pick up capability in adapting to different environment – that is why they have been committed to Indonesia for such a long time without making those probable matters as obstacles.
The Honeymoon Period
Indonesian Ambassador to Germany, Eddy Pratomo, once mentioned that German – Indonesian bilateral relationship is now in a honeymoon period which is similar to those during Habibie days; but to Hutter, the two countries relations cannot be defined using one label or word. Basically, saying that it is a honeymoon period is a very good concept showing more business interest – but at the same time, it also indicates emotional element to go beyond trade, investment and finance. Even so, he would prefer to say that the relations have matured positively.
The German government has recognised that Indonesia has increasingly begun to play a very active and constructive role in regional matters as well as global matters. Indonesia is part of the G20 – becoming the only Southeast Asian nation – that is not only a guest, but as a full member to stay there. Germany recognises that particular factor to fulfill their foreign policy assessment. Indonesia is contemplated as a strong partner and a huge country with crucial position.
Furthermore, the vision of Indonesia`s economic diversification to move from extractive industries to value-added industries leads to Germany`s interest in taking part inside the process. Even though crises in Europe is not over yet, but Germany has come out of the biggest problem; success to overcome it has a very simple reason, “Because we have a forceful diversified industry” – said Dr.Thorsten Hutter while showing his confidence that Europe is not the past, still doing quite well and still extremely well-positioned. So, to support Indonesia, Germany can offer companies that are flexible and experienced in dealing, trading and investing abroad. To be particular, those who have capacity to understand needs of the Indonesian clients or partners in order to develop tailor-made solutions.
Some German companies are world leaders in what they do, even in providing certain products which no one else in the world could implement. Hutter then assured, “The more diversified the Indonesian economy gets, the higher the quality demands here for better products or machines – then the greater will the need be to look around and obtain the best ones to achieve what people want to do. That is where German companies really make a difference through their willingness in supporting Indonesian economy.”
Besides economy, trade and investment, Germany – Indonesia bilateral relationship also goes for a meaning throughout culture, art and education. Dr.Thorsten Hutter sent his positivity for the success of JERIN Festival 2013 that occurred in Jakarta on 18 to 20 October 2013. To him, JERIN Festival did well in promoting both sides and highlighting bilateral relations to further strengthen the ties. Great performances and activities at the festival were endorsed as forms of appreciating the relationship as well. Moreover, DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) and Goethe Institute are two active examples toward Germany`s concern in this field; interesting programs are always offerred with equal attractive numbers of students who are fond of the programs.
Heading to 2014
Talking about Indonesia`s presidential election in 2014 – with SBY`s last term in office coming to an end, he truly hoped that there will be no major influence, especially on Germany – Indonesia relationship. Government change is a usual thing; in principle it could in fact to be a sign of matured democracy. Everybody understands that what governments need to do is providing vision, ideas, concepts, education, healthcare, better infrastructure and housing; along with how to promote sustainable growth and ways to handle problems. Challenges after election will always be there and readiness to tackle anything should be prepared.