Indonesia, Denmark put controversy aside to sign investment agreement

Jakarta Post | January 23, 2007

Indonesia, Denmark put controversy aside to sign investment agreement

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In an effort to put last year’s cartoon controversy behind them, Indonesia and Denmark have reached an agreement on investment promotion and protection.

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda and visiting Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller signed the document here Monday.

"I think it’s very important that Denmark and Indonesia have good bilateral cooperation," Moller told a press conference after the signing ceremony.

"The signing hopefully will increase investment from Denmark."

Moller said the agreement also opened the door to deeper bilateral cooperation on energy and the environment.

"In Denmark, we have been able to raise our production 50 percent in recent years without using more energy ... I am sure we can have good cooperation on energy saving and renewable energy," he said.

The Danish government is planning to fund a US$30 million environmental project in Indonesia beginning in 2008, Moller added.

The value of bilateral trade between the two countries stood at US$200 million in 2005, while private companies in Denmark invested $60 million in the country, Hassan said.

The Islamic world, including Muslims in Indonesia, was angered by the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper in September 2005. The images first appeared in a local newspaper and were subsequently published around the globe.

The daily that first ran the cartoons, The Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, apologized to Muslims on Jan. 30 last year. While it condemned the publication of the cartoons, Denmark’s government refused to take action against the newspaper, saying the images were covered by freedom of expression.

In October last year, a second cartoon incident occurred, when the youth wing of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party organized a competition in which members made drawings of the Prophet.

The contest was taped by a member of a group called Defending Denmark. Excerpts of the video, aired by a Denmark television station and later posted on the Internet, sparked renewed anger in Muslim countries.

Moller reiterated his government’s stance on the cartoon issue when asked whether he would have allowed the Danish newspaper to publish the images.

"I can’t say no to printing and I can’t say yes to printing. If they have to ask the government then you have no democracy," he said.

"You can print what you want but you have to be responsible to the laws," Moller added. "That means a judge will decide whether you have broken the law, not the government."

Hassan, meanwhile, said Indonesia and Norway had initiated a global intermedia dialog last year to foster a better understanding of culture, religion and civilization among media in the Western and Muslim worlds.

"During my discussion with Foreign Minister Moller, I explored the possibility of how Indonesia and Denmark can cooperate in this context," he said.

source: Jakarta Post