German Chancellor Angela Merkel lauded Indonesia’s ability to slash its debt as she and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed in Jakarta on Tuesday the Jakarta Declaration aiming to boost comprehensive ties between the two countries.
After the signing ceremony, Merkel, who is visiting Southeast Asia for the first time, told a joint press conference that Indonesia was a success story of debt reduction, as it had managed to reduce its debt to 24 percent of gross domestic product from 80 percent in just several years.
“I think that’s an example of what can be achieved and what Europe has to achieve, especially given the fact that Indonesia was able to achieve this over a short time, in fact in a few years,” she said.
The Jakarta Declaration will enable the two countries to cooperate more closely in areas such as defense, trade, science and technology and the environment, both leaders agreed.
Last year, bilateral trade between the two countries rose by 7 percent to more than $7 billion. German officials estimated that figure could reach $15 billion by 2015.
“The Jakarta Declaration is very comprehensive, allowing both countries to do many things together in the future,” Yudhoyono said.
Merkel, the first German chancellor to visit Indonesia since 1995, said the agreement would boost bilateral cooperation and enable greater strategic cooperation.
Yudhoyono mentioned Indonesia’s plan to buy a large number of Leopard tanks from Germany.
“We’ll be very open and transparent about this,” Yudhoyono said, adding that the country’s military equipment needed updating and that Germany was one of the partners Indonesia could turn to for supplies.
Indonesian officials have said the country would buy 100 tanks worth $280 million from Germany.
Earlier on Tuesday, Merkel visited the Protestant Immanuel Church as well as Istiqlal, the country’s biggest mosque.
“I believe that we can cooperate more closely in science and research, and the tsunami warning center is but one example of that,” she said.