Hungary to ease Indonesian ecological troubles

Budapest is impressed by Indonesia’s growth. Source: Wikimedia

Indonesia is to strengthen its ties with Hungary through cooperation in water management and renewable energy, with the central European nation to provide water to 34 districts in the archipelago and the solar energy industry in North Sumatra worth US$20 million.

With around 10,320km between Budapest and Jakarta, Indonesia and Hungary make unusual trade partners but President Joko Widodo said he was keen for them to work together in technology and digital economy.

“I want Indonesian-Hungarian cooperation to be more robust in the future,” Joko Widodo said after meeting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the State Palace in Jakarta.

They signed memoranda of understanding in fisheries, breeding, aquaculture and higher education.

Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto, Agriculture Minister Sandor Fazekas, National Economy Minister Mihaly Varga, National Development Minister Miklos Sesztak and Higher Education Minister Laszlo Palkovics accompanied Orban, suggesting the Hungarians are also keen to bolster ties. Around 50 business representatives also joined the delegation.

Indonesia’s Trade Minister Thomas Lembong, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister M Nasir attended the talks.

Sudirman said that Indonesia and Hungary wanted to build power plants and solar-cell manufacturing.

“It was a preliminary high-level meeting and will be followed by ministerial meetings. After that, we will exchange delegations. It’s going to be a long-term process. For now the president has given direction that renewable energy should be pursued,” Sudirman said.

Jakarta intends to build 5,000-megawatt solar power plants by 2020. “It’s a big chance for Hungary,” the minister added.

Orban said Indonesia, as a member of G20, would play an increasingly important role in the world economy.

“It’s the right time for Hungarian to get closer to Indonesia, in terms of political leadership and the people … Indonesia’s bilateral cooperation with Hungary will become much stronger,” he said. Hungary’s high skills and technology could support Indonesian development, especially in water management, the controversial premier added.

Orban thanked Widodo for his warm welcome and congratulated Indonesia on its economic growth, which surpassed that of European states.

Hungary is the seventh-largest Indonesian trade partner in eastern and central Europe. Trade reached US$149 million in 2014, with a US$24 million surplus on Indonesia’s side.

Hungary recorded US$500,000 of foreign direct investment in two Indonesian tourism projects in 2014 as Hungarian tourist numbers reached 6,392 in 2014.