For the first time in 16 years an Indonesian president will visit the Netherlands. Starting on 21 April 2016 Indonesian President Joko Widodo will pay a two-day state visit to the former colonial masters as the last part of his short visit to the European Union. The main aim of the visit to the Netherlands is to enhance economic ties between both nations. Widodo (often called "Jokowi") will be welcomed by Dutch King Willem-Alexander, meet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, visit Maasvlakte 2 (a major civil engineering project in the port city of Rotterdam), and meet various Dutch businessmen.
The Netherlands is the last country Widodo will visit during his short tour in the European Union between 18 and 22 April 2016 (the other countries he will visit are Belgium, Great Britain and Germany). Besides economic relations, topics such as terrorism and subsidized credit for the poor are also on the agenda.
Widodo's state visit to the Netherlands will mark the first visit an Indonesian president pays to the Netherlands since Abdurrahman Wahid's (unofficial) visit in the year 2000. Wahid was only the second Indonesian president ever to visit the Netherlands. Back in 1970 president Suharto made the first appearance.
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 at the very last moment after the separatist group 'Republic of South Moluccas' (RMS) - located in the Netherlands since 1966 - asked for Yudhoyono's arrest when touching ground in the Netherlands. Being head of the Indonesian state Yudhoyono would be held responsible for past war crimes. The Indonesian government requested certainty from the Dutch government that Yudhoyono would not be arrested or prosecuted. However, the Dutch government explained that such matters fall outside the scope of its authority.
• In 2012 a tank deal (involving the purchase of 100 Dutch second-hand tanks), worth around USD $280 million, failed between Indonesia and the Netherlands 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 angry about this explanation, and it was particularly sensitive considering the Dutch were the former colonial power in Indonesia.
• In November 2013 diplomatic relations between both nations were good again 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.
• In January 2015 diplomatic relations went downhill 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.