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Indonesian President visits the Netherlands and meets with King and Queen

The Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, has travelled to the Netherlands this week to meet with King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and the Prime Minister, Mark Rutt. He is the first leader from his country to visit the Netherlands since former President Abdurrahman Wahid visited in 2000.

In 2010, then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was expected to visit, but cancelled at the last minute when a separatist group tried to have him arrested for alleged human rights violations. A separatist group of Indonesians now living in the Netherlands sought to meet with Widodo, but the Dutch government didn’t respond to their requests.

In 1969, Indonesia’s sovereignty over Paupa was formalised. Yet still a small, poorly structured group of separatists has fought for independence ever since.

Yesterday, during his visit, a group of Dutch-based activists from Indonesia’s West Paupa region protested outside Parliament even though Joko wasn’t there.

Pro-activists from the Paupa region have been handed down lengthy prison sentences for peacefully expressing their views, organising rallies or raising separatist flags.

“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.

The main focus of his visit, according to Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was government-to-government issues. “President Joko will meet with Dutch Prime Minister, Queen Maxima and King [Willem-Alexander] in his capacity as the United Nations adviser for inclusive economic issues,” he said in a statement published the day before.

President Joko met with Prime Minister Rutt at his official residence in Catshuis where he signed agreements in higher education, research, and the maritime sector. Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Infrastructure and Environment Minister 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.

The president then visited the Port of Rotterdam one of the world’s busiest and oldest ports. He then traveled to meet with twenty chief executives from Dutch companies, attending a discussion on the maritime and water management sectors. The president, along with fifteen Dutch company heads also attended an Indonesia-Dutch business forum that was held at the Amrath Kurhaus Grand Hotel. “The Indonesia-Dutch Business Forum will produce a number of commitments with the value of $601.2 million,” said Retno.

President Joko then met with the royal couple at Noordeinde Palace before returning to Indonesia.

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