THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Indonesian President Joko Widodo paid an official visit to the Netherlands on Friday aimed at drumming up trade and investment from the country that long was Indonesia’s colonial ruler.
Widodo started his busy day with a working breakfast with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the signing of two pacts intensifying cooperation between their countries, before heading to a new extension to the port of Rotterdam.
Widodo’s visit is the first by a leader of the former Dutch colony since Abdurraham Wahid in 2000. In 2010, then-President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono canceled a visit at the last minute amid moves by a separatist group to have him arrested for alleged human rights violations.
Separatists from the Maluku region of Indonesia who have long lived in the Netherlands sought to speak with Widodo during his visit Friday, but said this week that the Dutch government had not responded to their request to set up a meeting.
A Dutch-based group of activists from Indonesia’s restive West Papua region danced and chanted outside Parliament, although Widodo was not in Parliament at the time. The president was at a beachfront hotel giving a speech to members of the Dutch business community.
“We want to make a statement to the Dutch government that they should not only discuss economic interests (with Widodo), but also human rights violations,” demonstrator Raki Ap said.
“We want a referendum on self-determination like recent votes in Catalonia and Scotland,” he added.
In Indonesia, Papuan pro-independence activists have been given lengthy prison terms for peacefully expressing their views, organizing rallies or raising separatist flags.
Though Indonesia’s sovereignty over Papua was formalized in 1969 through a stage-managed vote, a small, poorly armed separatist movement has battled for independence ever since.
Earlier, after the breakfast at Rutte’s official residence in The Hague, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi signed two memorandums of understanding with the Dutch ministers for education and infrastructure and environment aimed at intensifying cooperation in the fields of maritime industries and higher education and science.
Infrastructure and Environment Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen said the maritime deal would help boost Indonesia’s economy.
“Indonesia can create many new jobs and there are many opportunities for Dutch business,” she said in a statement.
Later Friday, Widodo was visiting King Willem-Alexander at a palace in The Hague.
Posted by: Associated Press
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