Germany vows continued support for RI
By Kornelius Purba
BONN (JP): German Councilor Gerhard Schroeder said on Friday after a meeting with visiting President Abdurrahman Wahid that his government would continue providing political and economic support to Indonesia.
Speaking at a joint media conference after holding bilateral talks, Schroeder expressed confidence in Abdurrahman's ability to carry out the democratization process and restore stability to Indonesia's economic difficulties.
"Germany is committed politically and economically to Indonesia," said the councilor.
Abdurrahman described Germany as one of Indonesia's most important trading partners and asked Schroeder to facilitate the nation in its effort to improve relations with the European Community, which he described as a "jungle" for Indonesia.
On the situation in East Timor, Abdurrahman said Jakarta would work closely with East Timor leader Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao because a stable and prosperous East Timor was important to Indonesia.
As part of his mission in rebuilding relations damaged by the East Timor saga, Abdurrahman said he would visit Australia in May.
The President and his entourage arrived here on Thursday night for a two-day visit. After meeting with Schroeder, he flew to Berlin to meet with German President Johanes Rau.
Meanwhile in a meeting with about 300 German executives in Bonn, Abdurrahman said the giant automotive firm PT Astra would be sold to the highest bidder.
He dismissed fears that it would be sold in a nontransparent manner.
"The sale of Astra could be finalized on the weekend and it will be sold to the best buyer," he said.
Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie said during his address at the business forum that the Astra management had no right to reject the government's plan to sell the company as it had fallen under the authority of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA).
"The sale of the company will be announced to the public within one week," Kwik said.
During the meeting with the businessmen, the President also heard complaints from German companies.
G.C. Tonnon, the director of widely diversified Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst, told the President that his cement plant, PT Semen Andalas, could not operate sufficiently in Aceh due to security problems in the province.
He said his company had invested at least DM 300 million (US$149.5 million) in Indonesia.
Another businessman complained his palm oil plantation in Muko-muko, Bengkulu, was often extorted.
Abdurrahman acknowledged these complaints.
"However, trust me and give me more time to resolve this problem," said the President.
Abdurrahman left Germany on Friday night and was due in Rome a few hours later.
There he will meet with top Italian officials and Pope John Paul II.
His stay in Rome has been extended an extra day because a planned stop in Prague had to be canceled due to Czech President Vaclav Havel's ill-health.