By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Last Thursday evening, Indonesia extravagantly celebrated its 61st independence in the form of singing, wining and dancing at a local hotel in Windhoek. The evening also marked the first anniversary of the peace deal signed between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement. The historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoD) had brought to an end 30 years of continuous armed conflict in Aceh Province. Speaker of the National Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab, other Members of Parliament, members of the Diplomatic Corps and Indonesian residents in Namibia all came out in their numbers to witness the grand and yet striking evening that saw several speakers. Among the prominent personalities who delivered speeches was Ambassador Gede Putu Artisme and guest speaker, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lempy Lucas. Reviewing the relations between the two countries, Artisme stated that a decade of diplomatic relations had been filled with valuable experiences to evaluate the past and to confront the future. Although Indonesia is not yet an industrial country, it has been actively engaged in the development of human resources, and Namibia has benefited from some of the initiatives embarked upon by Indonesia. According to the ambassador, since 1991 at least 31 Namibians have received training in different fields especially in areas designed to expand knowledge and experiences in the arts and crafts subjects offered at State Universities and colleges in Indonesia. “Bilateral relations between our two countries have been amplified even further this year by granting a one-year non-degree scholarship programme offered by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia”, said Artisme. The programme aims at fostering and encouraging interest in the language and culture of Indonesia with its allies such as Namibia. He added that the enhancement of bilateral relations between the two parties has been marked by high-ranking officials’ visits of both countries, although the frequency of such visits has dwindled in the past few years. Artisme says, “Current domestic circumstances still requiring special attention and engagement from Indonesia and its respective officials had hampered the venture. Nevertheless, such conditions have not relegated the importance of the bilateral relationship of both countries.” In its 61st anniversary, Indonesia has to confront many challenges both in the domestic and international spheres. The country has once again to undergo enormous tasks in order to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake and the Tsunami, which consecutively hit Indonesia in Central and West Java Province. The country also has to cope with the bird flu outbreak. Such conditions, the ambassador added, have not relegated the importance of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. This year marks the end of Artisme’s three-year assignment in Namibia. He expressed his gratitude to the Namibian Government and its people, adding that, “long was the road we have travelled, much that we have achieved, yet there remain many more endevours that we must undertake towards the ideals and purpose of our independence”. On behalf of Namibia, Lucas praised Indonesia’s strong commitment to expanding economic relations between both countries. This is evident in the Indonesian business community’s interest to work with their Namibian counterparts. Over the years, Indonesia has participated in the Windhoek Agricultural and Industrial Shows, Namibia Holiday and Travel Expo, Ongwediva Annual Trade Fair, and the Otjiwarongo Show, as well as the Erongo Trade Fair. “We are happy to see that Indonesian entrepreneurs mean business, and it is through such endevours that strong bilateral economic cooperation will be realized”, said Artisme. The two governments said their continued commitment is aimed at further strengthening the bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of their peoples.
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