By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Pledging hard work and commitment, Indonesian Ambassador to Namibia Gede Putu Artisme is determined to make 2006, the last year of his diplomatic mission in the country, a memorable one by strengthening existing sound bilateral relations. The diplomat, who has been here for the past two years, says his aim is to nurture the mutual ties that exist between the two countries before the end of 2006. Speaking to New Era last week, the Ambassador said he was pleased with the relations between the two countries over the past 14 years and is optimistic that they could be taken to another height. “Indonesia and Namibia have for many years collaborated as cooperating partners in the United Nations and various international forums, including the Non-Aligned Movement,” said Ambassador Artisme. Through the years, Namibia has benefited from the Indonesian government’s programme of technical cooperation for other developing countries. This not only enhances the South-South Cooperation, but also shares the much needed expertise and knowledge between the two countries. Reflecting on this mutual relationship in depth, the most memorable for the Ambassador was when Namibia with the rest of the world stretched out a helping hand of support to Indonesia when on December 26, 2004, the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra and others were struck by the devastating Tsumani that killed tens of thousands of people in its wake. It was during this painful period that Namibia expressed its solidarity and support to the people of Indonesia, through assistance funnelled through the Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) and SOS International. “We are very grateful that in such a time of grief, Indonesia did not undergo the ordeal alone. “Painful as it is, this disaster has taught us the precious lessons of the value of unity and solidarity, the virtue of friendship and brotherhoods and the power of cooperation,” he said. He also noted that such aid left a lasting impression on Indonesia and its people. Now a year after the tragic event, positive progress has been made in the recovery process in Aceh Province, one of the worst affected by the Tsunami. “The social life in the two provinces (Aceh and Nias) is almost back to normal, except for facing some obstacles on how to rebuild houses for the thousands of families.” Reports say over 300 000 people have been able to return to their homes, while about 75 000 are sheltering with relatives and neighbours as a result of the catastrophe. As part of his mission before his three-year diplomatic mission draws to a close by the end of this year, Artisme would like to implement the four major bilateral agreements signed between the two governments. These agreements are on the Establishment of a Joint Commission signed April 10, 1997; the Economic and Technical Cooperation (August 1, 1997); the Mineral Resources and Energy Cooperation (August 19, 1997); and lastly the cooperation agreement signed between the ANATRA News Agency and Namibia Press Agency inked on April 21, 1998. Ambassador Artisme however added that the implementation of these agreements into action is a time-consuming process that requires intense effort and continuous commitment from both countries. Other pending matters for this year between the two countries include finalising an agreement on cultural cooperation as well as the completion of a draft trade agreement. Besides the notable visits by the Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma to Indonesia in 1997, amongst others several other courtesy visits were made to the Asian country by former Prime Minister Hage Geingob, the former Speaker of Parliament MosÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© Tjiten-dero and current Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab six years ago. This further culminated in exchange visits by Indonesian high-ranking business people and government officials among them the former President of the Republic of Indonesia Soeharto, as well as Foreign Minister Ali Alatas who came to Namibia in 1997.
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