THE MINISTER – Mon cher Marty, ladies and gentlemen,
For France, the relationship with Indonesia is a priority. For too long, relations between Indonesia and France have been rather distant. As far as the Foreign Minister is concerned, no French foreign minister has come here for 17 years. In 2011, things started to change. As my colleague and friend Marty has excellently stressed, a strategic partnership was signed, and it’s now a question of getting it up and running. Our two presidents would like to give greater substance to this very important strategic partnership, particularly in the five fields Marty has just recalled: the economic field, of course – I’m accompanied by a delegation of businessmen; the educational and cultural field; the defence and security field; the tourism field; and the climate change field. On all these points, France and Indonesia want to move forward hand in hand.
There’s been significant progress for some time already, particularly in the economic field. There are significant French investments here, with many jobs for our Indonesian friends, moreover, and – encouragingly – Indonesian investments in France: we want to develop this trend. Likewise, at educational level, a moment ago we signed agreements on this. On tourism, we’d like a direct link to be created soon between Jakarta and Paris. Regarding climate change, as you may know Paris will be hosting the great Climate Change Conference in 2015, and the Indonesian President and government are particularly sensitive to these issues. And – we’ll talk about it this evening – on the major international issues Indonesia and France generally stand shoulder to shoulder.
As you know, France is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and the world’s fifth-largest economic power. Indonesia is a great country and everything is in place for Indonesia and France to move forward together in future. That’s the purpose of my visit here, and I very warmly thank Marty and the Indonesian authorities for their welcome.
Q. – Has the law banning the niqab had effects on religious harmony in France? Is it a cause of Islamophobia? Regarding the defence partnership, what specific type of actions will be carried out by the two countries in future?
THE MINISTER – On the first question, you must know that all discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs is banned and punished by law in France. This means that any French person or any person who lives in France, whatever their religion, is free to practise it. That’s the rule prevailing in France, and on that basis we must obviously challenge anything that could be an attack on religions, whatever those religions may be.
On defence and security specifically, there was an initial Franco-Indonesian defence dialogue session which showed the shared determination to develop, as a priority, this aspect of our strategic partnership.
If we want to sum things up, there are three broad areas of cooperation in particular. You’re aware that, operationally, Indonesia plays an active role in the UN’s peacekeeping operations and, in particular, plays an essential role in UNIFIL in Lebanon. We’re also members of it, so we can and must work together. The fight against piracy is also an area of cooperation to be developed.
On training, the French Defence Ministry is actively engaged in meeting our Indonesian friends’ expectations, in particular for hosting officers undergoing training in France and certainly for giving French courses to soldiers in Indonesia. That’s the situation with training.
Regarding materiel, Indonesia is determined to modernize her defence tool. Contracts were signed in 2012, notably with the companies Nexter, MBDA and Ocea, and those contracts are quickly coming into force. So a whole series of realities and prospects has opened up in this field, given both the quality of our technology and the good political understanding between our two countries./.