Indonesia and New Zealand will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations next year, setting a new milestone for partnerships between the Pacific neighbors. (Reuters Photo)

Indonesia, New Zealand to Celebrate 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties

BY :SHEANY

AUGUST 31, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia and New Zealand will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations next year, setting a new milestone for partnerships between the Pacific neighbors.

As part of a series of celebrations to commemorate the anniversary, the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta is planning to host several events, including a logo competition, sports events and producing a special batik linking the unique cultures of the two countries.

Over the past decades, relations between the two countries have had a particular focus on renewable energy, agriculture, education and disaster management.

Former Prime Minister John Key extended an open invitation to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to visit New Zealand after the two leaders met in Jakarta last year.

Trade between the two countries is also expected to increase, as New Zealand is currently negotiating a regional comprehensive economic partnership, which includes Indonesia.

Trade between the two countries amounted to around $1 billion last year, but both sides have stepped up efforts to increase this to $4 billion by 2024 with the signing of three cooperation agreements during Key's visit.

"Our cooperation is expanding. This year we've developed a letter of agreement in defense cooperation," New Zealand Ambassador Trevor Matheson told the Jakarta Globe on Friday (25/08). He added that the police forces of the two countries have also enjoyed good cooperation over the years.

In December, Indonesia and New Zealand signed a joint commitment to boost strategic partnerships that will deliver development results and draw on the latter's expertise to meet Indonesia's needs in priority areas, including disaster risk management and renewable energy.

"This is why we think it's such a win-win. New Zealand is trying to use our expertise to help Indonesia take advantage of its massive resources," Matheson said. He expressed optimism of Indonesia's potential to become the world's largest geothermal producer.

The New Zealand aid program is set to provide renewable energy support for Indonesia of up to NZ$30 million ($21 million), which will be in the form of technical assistance, engineering support, and skills development and training.

Matheson also expressed hope that the increasing number of visitors traveling between Indonesia and New Zealand will soon lead to direct flights year-round to improve connectivity between the two countries.

Air New Zealand currently offers seasonal flights between Auckland and Denpasar, Bali, from May to October. The airline announced in July that it plans to commence five weekly flights to Bali from April.

According to Matheson, there is still a lot more that citizens of both countries can see and learn from each other. He said New Zealanders have not really seen much of Indonesia beyond Bali, and that Indonesians should also travel beyond Australia, so that the citizens of both nations can see what these countries have to offer.

"Things are looking up and stepping up as well, we just want to continue the very strong momentum that's being developed already," Matheson said. He added that the anniversary will be marked in "a very special way."

The 60th anniversary may also be celebrated by recognizing individuals who have contributed to strengthening bilateral relations between Indonesia and New Zealand, Matheson said.

"But it's not just about looking back. It's about celebrating what we have now and where we want to go in the next 60 years with Indonesia," the ambassador said.

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