Indonesian Ambassador: “Greeks were the first to build a chocolate factory in Indonesia in the ’30s.”

The Ambassador of Indonesia in Greece, Mr. Benny Bahanadewa, during his interview to noted that relations between Greece and Indonesia are at very good level, whereas he emphasized the fact that Indonesia established bilateral relations with Greece in 1958, whereas it founded its first Embassy in Athens in 1994.

Mr. Bahanadewa underlined the close cooperation between the two countries on international issues through common political views and the ramification of a “friendship agreement” between the two parliaments.

The Indonesian ambassador announced that in a few weeks a delegation from Indonesia is expected to visit its counterpart.

Ambassador Bahanadewa paid special attention to the bilateral cooperation in the maritime sector and common history traits, that are shared by both countries, due to the number of archaeological treasures.
Children at the primary school in Indonesia are taught the Greek ancient history. This fact strengthens even further the bonds between the two countries as Mr. Bahanadewa said.

The Ambassador also commented in a humorous way that “when the 12 Gods of Olympus wish take some holiday they leave Mount Olympus where they reside and they visit Bali!

On the issue of combating corruption and implementing good practices, Ambassador Bahanadewa said that corruption is not a Greek or Indonesian phenomenon, but a global one. ”The last 20 years Indonesia has established an Institute for combating and eradicating corruption. This works closely with a Special Court against corruption, the police and numerous NGOs. The measures taken are highly effective not only at a government level, but especially at a social level ”, the Ambassador noted.

Industry and Entrepreneurship
The two countries share common traits and are both tourist destinations, according to Mr. Bahanadewa. Out of the 250 million people living in Indonesia 10% of its population are aged 25 years old, pointing out that the development of mutual tourism can benefit both countries.

Equally important to tourism is the promotion of the maritime sector, based on Greek standards, especially due to the fact that Indonesia wishes establish links among its islands, Ambassador Bahanadewa said.

Economic crisis and its impact on the Indonesian economy
Despite the fact that the Greek crisis has repercussions in several other states, it has not affected Indonesia directly, due to the fact that bilateral trading does not exceed the amount of $ 250 million in contrast to other European countries, such as Spain. Indonesia imports cotton and tobacco from Greece, while Greece imports various types of machinery.

Jihad, radical Islamists and Syrian refugee crisis
The Ambassador of Indonesia asked to comment on the fight against radical Islamists and the fierce challenge of the refugee crisis, said that in his country the issue is dealt with the Special Courts. Anyone who does not comply with the laws of the country is referred to the court where he receives his punishment. Ambassador Banahadewa pointed out that a Muslim is not necessarily an extreme Islamist. There are more than 300 ethnic groups in Indonesia. It is a multicultural society where no distinctions are made between Islamists, Christians or any other nationalities and religions. Indeed, if someone is suspected of connections to extreme Islamism, then it is the role of the respective religious leaders to rehabilitate the person and put him/her back on the right track. Special attention is given to education and culture of these people, in order to gain real knowledge.

Education and Cultural relations
Indonesia supports intercultural exchange of students. Indonesia offers different types of grants and scholarships in culture and education, depending on students’ options regarding university institutions. Furthermore, the Indonesian government runs special classes for Indonesian cooking, on a weekly basis in the premises of the Embassy of Indonesia.

Investments and motivation
The Ambassador of Indonesia noted that Indonesia ranks third among the Asian countries in the G20 list, following China and India. In the context of attracting investments, Indonesia has applied visa exemptions for visitors and professionals, while it has put into place fast-track procedures for establishing a new business in less than 30 days.

Life in Indonesia for Greeks
Ambassador Bahanadewa said the Greeks in Indonesia are a prominent group. It was the Greeks that in 1930 built the first chocolate factory.

Archaeology and cooperation with the Greek authorities
Indonesia owns many archaeological treasures, Ambassador Bahanadewa said. However, it is necessary to cooperate with Greek archaeologists who have long experience and knowledge he underlined. Among other cultural activities, Indonesia has put forward an official request for training of Indonesian athletes in the ancient Olympia stadium, within the Olympic spirit context.