Amb. Eddy Pratomo (Ambassador of Indonesia to Germany)

13.05.2011 - Interview conducted by Orla Colclough & Alex Biggs

Q1. The Indonesian government has taken efforts to create a national political culture.  How have these efforts been carried forth in the minds of people, thereby transcending the different ethnic and religious groupings and creating a sense of national identity?

Well, we are pursuing our programs in different areas by accommodating the wish of the majority of the people of Indonesia through many means.  We hold discussions or seminars, where we discuss several important issues within Indonesia and we invite all representatives within Indonesian society across Indonesia to give their contribution to the country in order to create one national identity.  We have basic fundamental principles which is stated in the constitution that we are one; we are different but we are one, diversity and unity as I have said. In Sanskrit we have a particular phrase for that.

Q2. Globalization has created a mix of cultures in Indonesia as far back as the ancient trade routes through to the Dutch occupation.  In the context of modern globalization and trade liberalization, what approaches have been taken by the Indonesian government to preserve the Indonesian cultural heritage in the age of globalization?  How has the government made its focus on growth and development compatible with tradition and cultural values?

As I mentioned in my speech on multiculturalism, the richness of being different is one of the basic tenants of our basic human rights, so just because Indonesia is within the era of globalization, and trade liberalization, we will not lose our identity, because in our democracy we have a distinct culture and we have our special motto as I previously mentioned.  Our country has five basic principles to be upheld by everybody: every citizen and every government official.  So while we are participating in many different forums at the international level, the identity is always being upheld by our officials, representatives of Indonesia, in different forums and arenas. 

Q3. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Indonesian government encouraged dance and music performances abroad in order to promote cultural diplomacy.  What are the current exercises and efforts in encouraging cultural diplomacy abroad and could they be considered an effective form of soft power which could potentially encourage cooperation between Indonesia and other countries?

One of the main things is that our presence here at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy means that we need to further use our soft of Indonesia with other countries.  By mutual understanding of cultures around the globe, I think face to face contact is one of the most important communications.  We are not only pursuing government or official relations, but face to face contact among nations to be more understanding of every society.  I think it is very important that the cooperation between the governments of Indonesia and other countries should be further strengthened in the future based on the value placed on culture. One of the other very important things is that Batek was recognized by UNESCO.  It is also the introduction of one of the reasons for the preservation of cultural heritage and cultural traditions, Batek being this preservation in the example of Indonesia, and one of the exercises they (points to colleagues) are implementing now.   It has already been recognized as a heritage site by UNESCO.  

Q4. Are there cultural exchange events organized jointly between the Indonesian Embassy here in Germany and the German Embassy in Indonesia in order to facilitate intercultural exchange?

Yes.  Next month we will have the Jakarta Berlin Arts Festival.  This is one way to help the coexistence between Indonesia and Germany in the field of culture.  It is a meeting point for Indonesia and Germany in the form of cultural exchanges, and we will do this more in the future, for example next year, in the form of the 60th anniversary of the relationship between Indonesia and Germany.  We will hold that cultural comprehensive performance in the Philharmonic in Berlin.  We are also participating in our national festival to be held in September this year.  We always participate in that annual festival which is the exchange of culture among nations, especially between Asian and Pacific regions.
Q5. In 2009, the U.S began exercising smart power in Indonesia in order to enact change in the fields of education, governance, climate change, security, counter-terrorism, trade, and investment.  In your opinion, how effective have these efforts been in facilitating cultural understanding between the U.S and Indonesia?  Have these U.S efforts been beneficial to Indonesia in these fields?

Yes.  This has been very beneficial to Indonesia because we now have a comprehensive partnership with the United States.  So within the framework of the comprehensive partnership, we deal with so many different issues; how to counter terrorism, how to look at culture, how to deal with the economic relationship, how to deal with trade relations. There are three priorities; climate change, development as well as education and health.

Thank you very much for your time.