Interview de Mme l’Ambassadeur au Jakarta Post le 16 décembre 2014
Ambassador calls for a ‘balanced decision’ for Total E&P Indonesie
French Ambassador to Indonesia, Timor Leste and ASEAN Corinne Breuzé received The Jakarta Post’s intern Arnaud Richard-Ferraro in France’s new embassy in Jakarta. She elaborated on the presence of France in Indonesia. Here is an excerpt :
Question : Could you explain the state of bilateral relations between France and Indonesia ?
Answer : We signed a strategic partnership in 2011 with Indonesia in order to reassert our mutual interests and to give a new impulse to our bilateral relations in the strategic domains of our two countries, like in the military, in energy or in tourism. Among other initiatives, we have set an Indonesian-French defense dialogue (IFDD) that takes place every year. On international affairs, there are converging views between France and Indonesia in plenty of domains. For example, we appreciate very much Indonesian’s stance on Ukraine and its efforts toward peace in the Middle East.
Unfortunately, we lack an Indonesian lobby in France — in contrast, for example, to Vietnam from where we have a diaspora. The great singer Anggun C. Sasmi, who is famous in our two countries, is luckily here to maintain a connection.
There is still great uncertainty about the future of the Mahakam oil & gas block in East Kalimantan, in which the French branch company Total E&P Indonesie owns 50 percent of the shares. The block is the biggest gas production block in the country and Total is due to see its permits end in 2017. What is your position on this issue ?
No decision has been taken yet and all I can say is that I hope we will soon reach a balanced decision between the Indonesian government, Total and the Japanese company INPEX, which also owns a share in the block. I hope that Total can help further enhance Indonesian development, since so far I consider that the collaboration has been fruitful for all parties and has greatly contributed to modernizing the Indonesian gas industry.
In some countries, like China, it seems that France both benefits and suffers from its refined image as a touristic and glamorous country, but which doesn’t really stand for modernity or high technology. Would you say that is also the case in Indonesia ?
I don’t think this statement is appropriate for France or Indonesia. Lion Air bought 234 Airbus aircraft last year. Although Airbus is a European program, the planes are made in Toulouse and France is recognized for its technologies and its innovating abilities. Last September, Telkomsel chose Thales Technologies and Arianespace to launch its Telkom 3S satellite by 2016. Of course, I still think that our image is also built on our cultural industries, like cinema, and on dreams associated with Paris. I know that the soap opera Love in Paris was recently a great success on Indonesian TV and this is actually also part of what France has to offer. I feel that our two images complete each other well here.
Last October, Indonesian authorities finally set free two French journalists after having detained them for almost three months in the Indonesian province of Papua after they entered this territory on tourist visas. What role did the embassy play during this crisis ?
We were informed very rapidly of their arrest and we maintained frequent contacts with their local lawyers and Jakarta’s authorities like the Attorney General, the Coordinating Minister for Security and the Foreign Affairs Minister in order to advocate that our two nationals were journalists who were just conducting their investigation activities. Although they certainly did not abide by local visa regulations, I would like to remind you that they did not commit any criminal activity.
I think that this event happening during a transition of power in Indonesia did not help to solve this problem since decision-making was not running as efficiently as usual in that period. Tensions were also rising between local police and some Papuans after a major incident there. My feeling is that things may not have lasted that long if they had happened during a period of normal political activity.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo recently ordered the execution of five death-row drug convicts. One of your nationals is on death row in Indonesia. What is your reaction to this decision ?
France is strongly opposed to the death penalty in any place and in any context and not only when the life of one of our nationals is at stake. We have been abolitionist since 1981.