Every beginning is a delicate time, even more so, when this beginning is a first in every sense, as in the case of Hungary. As my country and Indonesia are assuming their Presidency of the EU (European Union) and Chairmanship of ASEAN, respectively, we must ponder our achievements and the state of our partnership — between both our countries and communities — and the common goals that we should strive to achieve during this period.
Hungary, as a member of the European Union, has traditionally given high priority to her relations with Asia.
During the Hungarian Presidency the EU will continue to upgrade its political dialogue and develop cooperation with Indonesia in key areas including high level political meetings, human rights and counter-terrorism.
Hungary will contribute to this process — among others — as the host country of the next ASEM Foreign Ministerial Meeting this June.
The EU-Indonesia relations can be characterized as a modern, forward-looking partnership based on shared values, rapidly developing trade links and expanding people-to-people contacts. Indonesia is the largest market and the only G20 member in the region and the driving force of ASEAN.
Its rapid growth, even during the global economic downturn, improving business climate and strong economic base make it a valuable and trustworthy trade- and investment partner for the EU and Hungary.
The latest EU efforts — such as the recently launched Vision Group and the Europe-Indonesia Business Dialogue — are aiming at improving trade and investment opportunities in this growing market.
The Hungarian Government’s value-based foreign policy applauds the results of Indonesia’s democratic transition and is ready to support its further development and reform processes. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, having a tradition of religious tolerance, openness and moderation.
Hungary is therefore looking at Indonesia as a valuable partner for cooperation in the field of interfaith dialogue.
As a pioneer of moderate Islamic values Indonesia might serve as a role model for other states where religious extremism is not unknown.
Based on the success of the first EU-Human Rights Dialogue we are ready to support Indonesia’s regional efforts on democracy and human rights, including the Bali Democracy Forum and the work of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.
The European Union and the Hungarian Presidency are also seeking to improve visibility and people-to-people links between the EU, its member states and Indonesia, which entails the expansion of various educational programs, strengthening collaboration on R&D and promoting tourism.
Hungary and Indonesia are holding the rotating presidency of their respective organizations, the EU and ASEAN in 2011. This provides us with an excellent opportunity to send a message jointly to the wider international community: The way to the future is integration that acknowledges national sovereignty and values, improves the lives of its people and their communities, and the one that reinforces international security.
The program of the Hungarian Presidency of the EU reflects the spirit of Indonesia’s national motto as well: Bhinekka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).
We have an unprecedented opportunity to act — being conscious of our responsibility towards our
future — for cultural diversity, for the rights and dignity of minorities, for greater understanding between religions and for tolerance in our daily lives.
With this opportunity comes responsibility, one that both our countries have prepared for and are ready to face. I am confident that during our leadership — this special time — we will be able to make the first steps in making the meaning of Bhinekka Tunggal Ika the motto of not just a country and community, but the entire world.
Writer: János Martonyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary.