Subject: JP: Czech Republic offers Indonesia wide-range defense equipment equipment

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

The jakarta Post February 5, 2002

Czech Republic offers Indonesia wide-range defense equipment

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Czech Republic, aware of Indonesia's dire need of military equipment, has offered a wide-range of defense products to compensate for the equipment that is still under limited embargo by the United States.

Visiting Czech Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign and Security Policy/Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Kavan, in an interview with The Jakarta Post on Monday, said that Czech arms factories were known worldwide and were ready to supply defense products to Indonesia.

"In trade, I wanted to raise the discussion of cooperation in defense industries ... the Czech Republic has had a long tradition in defense industries, ranging from small equipment to aircraft," Kavan said.

Indonesia's traditional arms supplier, the United States, has imposed a ban on arms sales to the Jakarta government following human rights abuses in its former province of East Timor in 1999, where massive destruction and human rights violations were allegedly conducted by the Indonesian Military (TNI) after the province opted for independence in a United Nations-sponsored referendum.

Kavan said his government realized Jakarta's need for defense equipment in its bid to improve its defense capability to deal with the nation's security issues.

"But, our foreign policy will harmonize with the view of the European Union," Kavan said. Currently, the Czech Republic is fighting to become a member of the union. The EU lifted its military embargo on Indonesia two years ago.

During his three-day visit to Indonesia, Kavan opened a new Czech consulate in Surabaya, the provincial capital of East Java, as part of the Prague government's drive to boost bilateral trade ties.

He emphasized the need for the Jakarta government to convince foreign investors of Indonesia's security and safety in the long run.

He said that he had talks with a businessman in Surabaya about the possibility of importing some 5,000 Czech-made Skoda sedans to be used as taxis in Indonesia's second largest city.

During his short stay in Jakarta, Kavan met with President Megawati Soekarnoputri, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais.

Besides talks on ways to boost bilateral ties, other major international issues, like fighting international terrorism and the future of Indonesia's ties with East Timor, were also discussed with the Indonesian officials, said Kavan, who is one of the candidates for the next United Nations General Assembly's president.

"As a member of NATO, we really appreciate that Indonesia, as the world's largest Muslim country, condemned the attack against the U.S. last September. I want to hear the Indonesian politicians' view on terrorism and how to deal with it," Kavan said, adding that as a candidate for General Assembly's president, he wishes to see friendlier relations between Indonesia and East Timor.

"The Czech Republic sees Indonesia as the most reliable partner in the region and we need to maintain the nonproblematical relations with Indonesia. We perceive Indonesia as the stabilizing factor in the region," he remarked.

Kavan, who is on a tour of three Southeast Asian nations, left for Bangkok on Monday afternoon. 

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