Fabius Concludes State Visit to Indonesia on Note of Unity

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has concluded his state visit to Indonesia. Photo: Guillaume Paumier for flickr.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has concluded his state visit to Indonesia. Photo: Guillaume Paumier for flickr.

Concluding the first French state visit to Indonesia in 17 years, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke optimistically of a more “united” European Union and South Asian region to Indonesian government officials on Friday, August 2. Fabius spent two days in Jakarta, the nation’s capital, in order to help strengthen French economic relations with the nation.

“The world is increasingly interconnected and interdependent and we share common concerns, yet collective action appears to be lagging behind,” he observed in the speech, which took place in Jakarta’s ASEAN secretariat headquarters.

Fabius further added that the world has become “zero-polar” following a “bipolar” globe juggled between the Soviet Union and United States in the mid-twentieth century and a “unipolar” world after the Soviet disintegration. An alternative to this non-polarity is another two “super power” world dominated by the US and China, which may diminish the international economic, social, and political influence of the rest of Asia and the European Union.

Fabius conceded that France has not been adequately involved in Southeast Asian relations — until now. Of the 47 nations targeted for French exports, six are ASEAN member states: Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Phillippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. France eventually hopes to expand its relations with the remaining four members of the coalition.

“This determination to combine unity and diversity is one of the bases for friendship and a solid partnership between France, Europe, and ASEAN,” he continued, referring to Indonesia’s national motto — “Unity in Diversity” — and its similarity to the EU’s own maxim, “United in Diversity.”

Fabius’s Indonesian trip occurred a mere two months following Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Bricq’s own visit. He travelled with representatives from 13 French businesses. The French Embassy in Jakarta released a statement commenting on the “new spirit” in the partnership between the two countries.

Indonesia’s annual economic growth has consistently stood at six percent since 2005. The nation’s market carries the potential to increase the French GDP — currently less than one percent ­­— by 240 million euros.

Fabius spent the majority of his visit meeting with his Indonesian equivalent, Marty Natelagawa, Finance Minister Chatib Basri, and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He is currently set to spend the remainder of the weekend in Vietnam.

Fabius’s Southeast Asian tour is one of series of state trips to the region, which will extend beyond this week through much of 2013. President François Hollande himself will soon be visiting the country in an effort to further the French-South Asian relationship.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had visited Indonesia earlier in the year. He also travelled to a Singaporean forum in July, informing attendants that Paris was hoping to expand arms business in the area.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault spent the last few days of last month meeting with officials in Malaysia, the nation that presently stands as the third largest customer of arms sales in the world.

Such economic power in the Asia-Pacific makes improved relations a prime objective for both France and the EU as a whole. While Europe has long served as a beacon of social and cultural inspiration for Southeast Asia, it is clear that ASEAN is rapidly eclipsing the continent in economic growth.

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  1. […] Concluding the first French state visit to Indonesia in 17 years, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke optimistically of a more “united” European Union and South Asian region to Indonesian government officials on Friday, August 2. Fabius spent two days in Jakarta, the nation’s capital, in order to help strengthen French economic relations with the nation.  […]

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