Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great pleasure that The Queen and I have begun our visit to Indonesia. This is a historic State Visit, the very first between our two nations. Over the coming days, I hope that we will lay the foundations for even stronger relations for many years to come.
Together with The Queen, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to the President and the First Lady for their hospitality and the warm Indonesian welcome we have received.
Indonesia and Sweden enjoy excellent bilateral relations. Our diplomatic links date back to 1950.
Almost exactly four years ago, in May 2013, the former President of Indonesia visited Sweden. And it is pleasing to note that in recent years we have seen an increase in the number of ministerial-level visits in both directions.
I myself visited Indonesia most recently in 2012. I came in my capacity as Honorary Chairman of the World Scout Foundation, to celebrate the centenary of the Indonesian Scout association, Gerakan Pramuka. In fact, Indonesia has the world’s largest Scout association with around 22 million members – quite an impressive figure!
The visit left a lasting impression on me. We heard how Indonesian Scouts had worked to repair and rebuild what had been destroyed by the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit Indonesia in December 2004.
We also visited a school for children with special needs. The school was run by the Scouts. It was a shining example of the positive and inclusive outlook that characterises the work of the Scout Movement – both here in Indonesia and elsewhere in the world.
Our two countries differ in many ways. And yet we have a great deal in common.
Swedish businesses have a long history in Indonesia. Today, Swedish companies here employ about 200 000 people. And back at home, in Sweden, we have the privilege of welcoming a small but growing number of Indonesian students to our universities.
Indonesia and Sweden share a real sense of curiosity for new technology. Social media have been adopted quickly and broadly by the people of both countries.
We are also both significant forestry nations. Forests cover much of the surface of both our countries and are remarkable sources of development and prosperity. But they also present us with a number of challenges. Like all renewable resources, forests must be managed in a wise and sustainable way. To this effect, the Swedish Government is working on its own national forest programme: a long-term forest strategy that optimises forestry opportunities and can contribute to sustainable growth.
I am delighted that the President and I share a strong interest in sustainable forestry, and in preserving and developing forest diversity. These are issues that are particularly close to my heart. I look forward to discussing them in greater depth, for example during our visit to the Centre for International Forestry Research, CIFOR.
Though our two countries experience somewhat different challenges and circumstances, I am convinced we have much to learn from each other in this area.
Furthermore, both our countries have strong links to the sea. We have long coastlines and thousands of islands, great and small. This has shaped our countries historically, and continues to do so today.
Nature is an important part of a nation’s identity. Many people value the natural environment and are prepared to take responsibility for its future. This sense of responsibility is an invaluable asset in the work to achieve sustainable global development. As we all know, this is an urgent task. We can only succeed by working together.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Indonesia for its excellent cooperation in connection with the negotiations that led to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Another important and rapidly growing area of cooperation is education and research. This is mutually beneficial to the futures of both our countries. It also creates long-term personal links between individuals from Indonesia and Sweden.
Indonesia is currently going through far-reaching developments in fields such as infrastructure and energy – fields in which Swedish companies are world leaders when it comes to sustainable and innovative solutions.
This State Visit is therefore a valuable opportunity to strengthen our political and personal links, as well as our trade relations. I hope that we will eventually look back on this visit as the starting point for even closer cooperation between our two countries.
Once again, I would like to thank you for the warm welcome we have received here in Bogor today. The Queen and I are extremely pleased to be your guests.
I would like to propose a toast to you, Mr President, to the First Lady and to the people of Indonesia, for the close cooperation – and warm friendship – between Indonesia and Sweden.