Indonesian President Joko Widodo may visit the Netherlands in 2016. In an interview with Dutch newspaper "De Telegraaf" newly appointed Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja hinted at Widodo's visit to the Netherlands. Ambassador Puja informed further that more information about this possible state visit is to follow in the next couple of weeks. "You will be surprised," he was quoted saying. Reportedly, Bert Koenders, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, will visit Indonesia in the next two weeks to prepare Widodo's visit.
The article in De Telegraaf was published on Saturday 5 March 2016. When Dutch reporters asked Indonesian Ambassador Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja whether a state visit of Joko Widodo to the Netherlands would improve trade relations between both countries, Puja replied: "you will be surprised in the next couple of weeks. I cannot answer this question right now but hopefully there will be a major surprise within two weeks time. Currently I am still waiting for the official confirmation from Jakarta before I can tell you more details. I don't want to break the protocol by talking too soon."
When asked whether Indonesian President Joko Widodo (often referred to as Jokowi) will visit the Netherlands this year or next year, Pura replied: "I expect this year to become an important year for both countries." On the reporters' follow up question "does this mean that Widodo will visit the Netherlands this year?", Pura replied: "Be patient, soon there will be more information."
Puja's statements clearly inform that there are serious plans for a state visit of Widodo to the Netherlands. This would be the first time an Indonesian president visits the Netherlands since Abdurrahman Wahid in the year 2000. Wahid is only the second Indonesian president ever to visit the Netherlands. Back in 1970 president Suharto made the first state visit.
Diplomatic Relations Indonesia - The Netherlands
Relations between Indonesia and its former colonial masters have been volatile. Notable examples of turbulent relations in the recent past include the following issues: in 2010 then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called off a state visit to the Netherlands after the separatist group 'Republic of South Moluccas' (RMS) asked for Yudhoyono's arrest when touching ground in the Netherlands.
In 2012 a tank deal (involving the purchase of 100 Dutch second-hand tanks), worth around USD $280 million, between both countries failed after Dutch parliament declined to approve the deal on concern that the Indonesian government could use these vehicles against its own people. Indonesian authorities were not amused to learn this reason, and it was particularly sensitive considering the Dutch were the former colonial power in Indonesia.
A positive event occurred in November 2013 when a group of Dutch politicians and more than one hundred Dutch company delegates, led by prime minister Mark Rutte, paid a four-day visit to Indonesia with the aim to enhance bilateral relations and search for business opportunities between both countries.
However, relations became strained again in January 2015 after Indonesia went ahead - despite fierce resistance from Dutch authorities - with the execution of several convicted foreign drug traffickers, including one Dutch citizen. As a consequence the Netherlands temporarily recalled its ambassador from Jakarta.