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70 years of Indonesia – Jordan relations towards a genuine and solid partnership

Feb 26,2020 - Last updated at Feb 26,2020

This year marks the momentum of 70 years of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Jordan that deserves to be commemorated. In fact, the historical threads of relations between the two countries started earlier. Jordan, then still called Trans-Jordan, as one of the founders of the Arab League was among the countries that first recognised Indonesia’s independence.

On 18 November 1946, the Council of the Arab League made a decision to recognise Indonesia as a fully independent sovereign state. The reason the Arab League gave its support for Indonesia's independence was based on religious, brotherhood and kinship ties. Since then, the two have formed a normal and firm relationship between the two young nations.

A few months later, the late President Sukarno dispatched a delegation led by Foreign Minister Agus Salim to visit Cairo, as the headquarters of the Arab League, Damascus and Amman. In July 1947, the Indonesian delegation was received by King Abdullah I in Amman, who said that Jordan was committed to the Arab League's decision. However, the formality of Jordan recognition of Indonesian independence needed to be postponed because at that time Jordan's was still in transition from the British rule.

On 27 February 1950, a member of the Central Indonesia National Committee, Bagindo Dahlan Abdullah, was appointed by President Sukarno to become the Ambassador of the United States of Indonesia to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan and reside in Baghdad. Since then, the official diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Jordan have continued and developed until now. 

Seventy years is a platinum period of friendship between the two countries. The bilateral relations have developed not only at the government level but also at the public level. Although geographically separated by two continents and two oceans, the two countries truly have a close and fraternal relationship. The ties can be displayed as an Indonesian proverb said: “Jauh di mata, tetapi dekat di hati” or "miles apart, but close at heart".

As the two most populous Muslim countries, Indonesia and Jordan have religious, brotherhood and kinship ties. In 2006, His Majesty King Abdullah initiated an International Islamic Conference, which was attended by 200 Islamic leaders and scholars from 50 countries. The conference successfully issued the declaration entitled the "Amman Message" as an effort to prevent Muslims from being divided because of differences in schoolls of thoughts or sects.

In a meeting between President Joko Widodo and King Abdullah in April 2015 in Jakarta, the two leaders agreed to continue spreading the message of Islam as a religion of peace, tolerance and "rahmatan lil alamin". Aside from being a Muslim-majority country, the two countries also adhere to other religions, having diverse tribes and democratic parliaments. Therefore, Indonesia and Jordan serve as a model for democracy, pluralism and tolerance in the Islamic world.

At the age of 70 years, relations between Indonesia and Jordan have been going well and solid. The leaders of the two countries and high-ranking officials have visited each other for the past three decades. In 1986, His Majesty the late King Hussein and Her Majesty Queen Noor paid a state visit to Jakarta. Ten years later, President Soeharto and Mrs. Tien Soeharto returned a visit to Amman in 1996.

In the next period, the brotherly relations between the leaders of the two countries have become stronger. In 2005, Their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania made a state visit to Indonesia. A year later, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mrs. Ani Yudhoyono responded with a state visit to Amman. In 2014, King Abdullah returned to a working visit to Jakarta to strengthen bilateral ties, and again in 2015 to attend the 60th Anniversary of the Asia-Africa Conference.

In facing a century of the relationship in the next 30 years, the two countries need to fill in and enhance partnerships. Despite the fact that trade, investment and tourism cooperation have shown progress over the past three years, it is acknowledged that the cooperation is still below its potential. Even though they are still relatively small, trade, investment and tourism figures have indicated a positive direction.

In 2018, the value of bilateral trade volumes was close to $300 million, and Jordanian investment in Indonesia reached $3.2 million. Traditional export products from Indonesia such as wood products, palm oil, coconut shell charcoal, food and beverage products are still likely to be increased. While car tires, coffee and herbal medicines have great potential to enter the Jordanian market.

In the last three years, the strengthening of relations between the two countries can also be seen in the mutual visits of tourists. In 2019, an increased number of Indonesian tourists reached more than 46,000 people for religious pilgrimages to Jordan and then to Palestine. In addition, the number of Jordanian tourists also increased by 30 per cent to reach more than 6,000 people.

Indonesia's recognised role in Jordan also involves humanitarian diplomacy. Jordan is the host country of 1.4 million refugees, mostly Palestinian and Syrian. Aside from the assistance from the government, a number of groups, such as humanitarian agencies, philanthropists, celebrities, academics, civil societies, Council of Ulemas, scout movement and zakat fund agencies, have participated in raising humanitarian in aid for refugees in Jordan. As part of humanitarian diplomacy, no less than $7.5 million aid and donations were collected from the government and non-state actors in the last three years.

Apart from bilateral issues, since the beginning of their independence, the diplomatic relations between the two countries have been cemented by the Palestinian issue. Supporting Palestine is a shared commitment not only at the government level, but also at the community level. Indonesia and Jordan have always been at the forefront in supporting the struggle for the independence of the Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital along the pre-1967 border.

As seen, there are still huge opportunities for cooperation and partnership that can be developed by the two countries in facing a century of relationship. In the thirty years to come, Indonesia and Jordan need to strengthen cooperation in a number of areas that still have potential to be explored. Historical ties on the basis of religion, brotherhood and kinship can serve as modality for strengthening the relations between the two countries toward a genuine and solid partnership.

 

Andy Rachmianto is the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Jordan and Palestine. This article is dedicated to The Jordan Times

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