Indonesia: Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the joint press point with Foreign Minister Marsudi
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Thank you very much, dear Minister [for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi].
I am back in Jakarta – 25 years ago I was here as Spanish Minister for Environment, discussing the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity. It is my pleasure to be here again, this time as High Representative of the European Union for Security and Foreign Affairs.
Minister, thank you very much for receiving me in this historic building.
The history of mankind of the 21st Century will be written in the Indo-Pacific area. We have to be aware of that. We have to be aware that the centre of gravity of the world is no longer in the middle of Europe; it is here in the Pacific, the so-called Indo-Pacific. The ASEAN countries in general and in particular your country, Indonesia, will be playing a very much important role in this evolution. We have to pay more attention, we have to engage more with you, we have to know each other better and we have to cooperate more.
That is why I am very glad that my first mission during my mandate to South-East Asia takes place here in Indonesia.
We, the European Union and Indonesia, have been partners for the last 30 years. We are like-minded countries. But I think that the potential of our relationship is untapped. We can do much more. And I hope and I am sure that this visit will mark a starting point of a new impetus to the European Union-Indonesia relationship.
I know that we have some specific problems – you mentioned palm oil – but our relationship has to be a broader one. There are so many other issues on which we can cooperate.
Certainly palm oil has been diminishing or jeopardising our relations, but we have to overcome this problem. Let me stress the fact that there is not a ban on palm oil imports in Europe. In fact, last year palm oil imports in Europe increased in value by 26%. This means that there is not a ban; it is a problem of sustainability that we have to solve together.
I am very much aware of the importance of palm oil for the Indonesian industry, for the Indonesian people. So many people have been taken out of poverty thanks to the exploitation of palm oil. We have to look for a solution that takes care both of the sustainability issue and of the development issue. And we will work together in order to do so.
We have been talking a lot about vaccination. To say that nobody will be safe until everybody is safe is good, but it is easier to say than to do. And certainly there is a gap in vaccinations between rich countries and developing countries.
Europe has been doing a big effort in order to provide vaccines to the rest of the world. In fact, we are the main exporter: half of the vaccines produced in Europe have been exported to the rest of the world. The United Kingdom and the United States have exported almost nothing. We have exported 200 million doses, and recently the European Member States agreed on a donation of 100 million doses. This is in addition to the strong financial support that we have been giving to COVAX, almost $2.5 billion, in order to provide vaccines to the poorest countries in the world. And this effort has to continue. We have to boost the production capacity, because we are not – all of us together – we are not producing enough for the whole of mankind.
We are ready to discuss any solution that can increase the production of vaccines, including the waivers to intellectual property – although we believe that the most urgent thing is to increase the production capacity in developing countries. We are very much engaged on that.
Minister, thank you very much for having the opportunity of overlooking the political landscape. I am sure we will continue to talk about this after, during lunch, because there are so many issues on which we have to share points of view, and work together.
Certainly, on the situation in Myanmar. I praise a lot your engagement and your leadership to look for a solution. I am very much sorry that the situation there is not solved, but if someone can help it is ASEAN, and inside ASEAN, Indonesia. I am sure that you will continue your efforts in order to protect and to help the people of Myanmar.
But we also share concern over what is happening in Palestine. And I agree with you Minister that the only solution for the situation for the Palestinian people is a two-state solution. But we cannot just repeat and repeat the two-state solution as an empty sentence or a rhetorical way of addressing the problem. We have to be able to do something. If we really believe this is the solution, we have to be more active, to push for this solution to become reality, and not a sentence that in fact does not make any improvement for the situation of the Palestinian people. This is a good occasion for working in that direction, after the ceasefire. We should not wait a couple of years until the next burst of violence, but really engage on a new try, on a new process for peacekeeping and peace negotiations in the Middle East.
As I said, the Indo-Pacific is an area vital for the future of humankind. Part of this history will be written if the European Union engages more economically with countries like Indonesia.
We have to push the negotiations for this Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. It has been discussed for the last 6 years, and we cannot wait 6 years more, because with this agreement we can increase our economic relationship, we can increase our trade. As you said we are already the third partner from the point of view of trade.
And we have to work together in order to build three purposes: prosperity, sustainability, and security. The three go together. Prosperity has to be built based on sustainability. And prosperity cannot be independent of stability and security. We have to work together on all three points, taking into account the new distribution of power in the world, the confrontation, if I can say, between China and the US, and look for a place in order to avoid new geopolitical tensions. I think that is something that we can do together. And I hope this will be the starting point for an intense relationship, an intense cooperation, in order to fulfil these three purposes: prosperity, sustainability and security.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-206892