Sun, 14 Sep 2003

RI, Bulgaria agree on terrorism threat

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesia and Bulgaria agreed on Saturday to work together in the fight against terrorism, with a common understanding on the importance of preventive measures.

In a joint press conference with visiting Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov, President Megawati Soekarnoputri said countries should not wait until an attack occurs to begin working together against terrorism.

"Fighting terrorism should not be limited to punitive measures, but must emphasize preventive measures," Megawati said.

She said countries must deal with the root causes of terrorism, which are found in political, social and economic injustices in parts of the world.

"Injustice is fertile ground that can be taken advantage of by terrorist groups hiding behind the pretense of fighting for the disenfranchised," she said.

President Parvanov also called for cooperation among all nations in eradicating terrorism.

"As for terrorism, which has become globalized, we are duty- bound to work together because no country can cope with this phenomenon single-handedly," he said.

President Parvanov is on a four-day state visit to Indonesia aimed at enhancing bilateral relations, which were established in 1957. He arrived in Jakarta on Friday evening from Thailand.

During their meeting on Saturday, the Indonesian and Bulgarian presidents also agreed on the need to enhance the role of the United Nations in resolving conflicts around the world.

"We share the view that the role of the United Nations should be enhanced and that the organization should be modernized, so it can continue to play an important role in eliminating and containing hotbeds of tension and conflict worldwide," said President Parvanov.

Bulgaria is a supporter of the U.S.-led war on terror and has sent troops to serve under British commanders in Iraq, despite a lack of UN authorization.

After the bilateral talks, the two presidents witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the promotion and protection of investment, news exchanges between the Antara and BTA news agencies, and on the establishment of a bilateral consultation forum.

The Bulgarian president underlined that enhancing economic and trade cooperation was the main purposes of his Southeast Asian trip. Trade between Indonesia and Bulgaria was valued at US$100 million last year.

After meeting with Megawati, Parvanov held a meeting with House of Representative Speaker Akbar Tandjung and attended a state banquet at the Presidential Palace.

He visits Yogyakarta on Sunday, before departing on Monday.