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Six takeaways from Indonesian President Widodo’s Turkey visit
Six takeaways from Indonesian President Widodo’s Turkey visit

Here are 6 interesting takeaways from President Jokowi’s visit to Turkey  

Mohamad Radytio Nugrahanto- Indonesia

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited Turkey on 6th July, a day before G20 Summit while en route to the summit’s 2017 venue in German city Hamburg. He was warmly welcomed by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, this visit symbolizes a warming in bilateral relationship between the two countries whose formal relationship started at the early revolutionary years of Indonesia but informally started centuries ago with Aceh Sultanate’s declaration of becoming a vassal to the Ottoman Caliphate in 17th century.

1. Reciprocal visit

In 2015, President Erdogan paid an official visit to Indonesia during which he visited Istiqlal, the largest and iconic Mosque the Indonesian capital Jakarta and gave lecture in National Defense Institution of Indonesia (LEMHANAS). This is Erdogan’s first visit to Indonesia in his capacity as the President of the Republic of Turkey. As said by Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi, last week’s visit is Jokowi’s way in paying back the reciprocal visit made by Erdogan at the same level, which also a first visit ever by Jokowi and by an Indonesian president for years, during which he visited Kocatepe Mosque, the largest in capital Ankara and signed several agreements during a meeting in Bestepe presidential palace.

2. Understanding in Terrorism Issue and combating FETO activities Indonesia

During his visit to Turkey, President Jokowi duly appreciated Turkey’s efforts in combating terrorism while both presidents emphasized on the need of both countries to cooperate in defense and counterterrorism fields, acknowledging that “the world can no longer be handled locally, but should rather be regarded as a whole and the developments should be followed accordingly”. In particular, both the Presidents shared the opinion on the need to intensify their collective fight against terrorist organization such as DAESH and Fetullahist Terrorist Organisation (FETO), with president Jokowi adding that they have discussed possible steps for the removal of obstacles to further implementing this aim. It is a clear departure from Indonesian stance after 2016 military coup where his government refused to help the Turks in their fight against FETO, in line with many western countries by saying that Turkish demands are breaching their national sovereignty. As a result of this visit the vital agreement on Curtailment of FETO activities in Indonesia is a great success for Turkey.

3. Confirming Indonesia’s Special Status

During a joint press conference both leaders explicitly explained that they are closely following global developments and aware of increasing influence of Asian countries in global economy and trade. Especially, president Erdogan commend Indonesia by acknowledging the country’s special place in Turkish global view with its big economy and its prime position within ASEAN. Erdogan also pointed to many roles taken and influence given by Indonesia in the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, G-20 and the Development-8 and express desire to deepen cooperation between the two countries in those platforms as discussed during their bilateral meeting. President Erdoğan also used the meeting to express his country's support for Indonesia's candidacy to a UN Security Council non-permanent seat for the 2019-2020 period.

Regarding Qatar issue, Jokowi underscore the need to solve this issue by diplomatic means between conflicting countries. It is worth mentioning here that President Jokowi himself attended the first of its kind Arab-Islamic-American summit in Riyadh in May this year.

4. Harnessing Economic Opportunities

Indonesia’s Central Statistics Institution (BPS) and Ministry of Trade data shows that trade volume between Indonesia and Turkish suffers severe decline from 2.85 Billion USD in 2013 to only 1.02 billion USD in 2016. Based on this reality both countries decided during the meeting to launch a negotiation on Indonesia-Turkey Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IT-CEPA), planned as a step to achieve the 10 billion USD goal in bilateral trade volume that aimed by leaders from both countries.

Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said the negotiation will prioritize agreement in Trade-in-Goods since he believes Turkish tariffs, extra fees and trade remedies yet to make Turkey a friendly market for Indonesian products. He also emphasized that despite those obstacles, Indonesian businesses will be better to include Turkey in its supply and value chain because Turkey’s strategic geographical condition and safe condition. Turkey can also be Indonesian business’ gateway to Europe, Middle East and North Africa, and Central Asia since Turkey is already having Economic Agreements with those economic blocks, he added.

5. Growing Defense Cooperation

During the meeting, Turkish Aerospace Industry (TAI) and PT Dirgantara Indonesia signed a 200 million Dollars -worth Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation in joint manufacturing of air platforms such as - but not limited to – TAI built ANKA drones. Indonesia also signed an investment deal worth 520 million US Dollars between PT PAL and Karadeniz Holding to cooperate in building of four electricity ships with capacity between 36-80 Megawatts. Jokowi said that he expect Indonesia and Turkey will be able to jointly produce tanks and submarines in the future, with follow-up already planned by team from both countries. Turkey’s armored vehicles manufacturer firm FNSS and Indonesia’s PT Pindad have already unveiled the jointly developed medium weight tank, KAPLAN MT, during the 13th International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF) in Istanbul on May 10 this year.

6. Reactions From Indonesia

While Indonesian politics currently face several frictions, this visit may become unifying factor -albeit temporarily - of Indonesian people, with both people supporting and opposing president Jokowi praise the meeting between him and president Erdogan. Some mocking and taunting aside, Jokowi supporters are highlights warm welcome and gestures given by president Erdogan and Turkish government. Many pointing similarities between the two leaders, who stand taller than average men in their respective countries and the fact they both were mayors of most populous cities of their respective countries before trusted into national politics. Even the Jokowi opponents are also delightful to see Muslim leaders with differences in politics can warmly embrace one another, how Turkey helped Indonesia by various means and highlighting how some Jokowi supporters who previously labeled Erdogan as a dictator and Turkey as a pariah now throwing lavish praises after he get visited by Jokowi.


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