Official visit to Indonesia
Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit started their three-day official visit to Indonesia today. They are accompanied by a large delegation of representatives of Norwegian trade and industry and public administration.
Their Royal Highnesses arrived at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta yesterday evening, where they were greeted by Norwegian pre-schoolers carrying flowers and waving Norwegian flags. This morning they embarked on their official programme, which will encompass topics ranging from business collaboration, human rights, and the rainforest and climate, to mother and child health, HIV issues, research, and cultural affairs.
Promoted Norwegian seafood
Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world, with nearly 250 million inhabitants. It is an attractive market for Norwegian exports, and sales in fish, primarily salmon, followed by mackerel and trout, are rising rapidly.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit started the day with an event to promote Norwegian seafood at the Shangri-La Hotel. Master chef Geir Skeie presented Norwegian salmon to the Indonesian guests, assisted by the apron-clad Crown Prince and Crown Princess, who helped to prepare and serve the salmon dishes.
Meeting with the President and First Lady
At 11:00 am local time, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess met with His Excellency President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady Ibu Ani Yudhoyono.
The leader of Indonesia since 2004, President Yudhoyono is actively involved in international climate and development issues. This is one of the areas in which Norway and Indonesia have extensive cooperation, and was a key topic of the mornings talks.
Following the meeting, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess attended an official luncheon at the Presidential Palace. President Yudhoyono has visited Norway twice, most recently in 2010 when Norway and Indonesia signed a letter of intent to reduce emissions from deforestation. Inspired by this, the President, who is a great appreciator of music, composed the Oslo Song. The guests at the luncheon were treated to a performance of the piece by Norwegian trumpet player Ole Edvard Antonsen, one of the Presidents favourite musicians.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit also had the opportunity to meet the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Dr Surin Pitsuwan. The organisation has been steadily gaining importance, and Norway will soon sign an agreement on friendly relations and cooperation with Southeast Asia.
Human rights have been given high priority on the ASEAN agenda, and comprise a key component of the cooperation between Indonesia and Norway.
Dialogue on human rights
The Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue is taking placing in Jakarta on 26-28 November. Indonesia and Norway are meeting for the 11th consecutive year for discussions on human rights. Groups of experts from both countries will be discussing human rights in the security sector (the military and police forces), dialogue and tolerance among different religious communities, and childrens rights. In parallel discussions, representatives of the Norwegian and Indonesian authorities will address human rights at the political level.
Crown Prince Haakon undertook the official opening of this years dialogue meeting. The Crown Prince emphasised that the meeting provides a unique opportunity to discuss important issues such as how to build bridges between countries, cultures and religions. The Crown Prince pointed out that Indonesia has valuable experience to share in this respect:
Indonesia is perhaps more qualified than most countries to answer this last question. The fact that more than 300 different ethnic groups share one country – and different religions are so intertwined in your history and tradition, certainly makes Indonesia a country worth listening to.
Meeting with business delegation
A large delegation of representatives of the Norwegian business sector and Norwegian companies with interests in Indonesia are accompanying the Crown Prince and Crown Princess on their visit. The delegation will be meeting with representatives of Indonesian trade and industry and attend seminars on trade, renewable energy and infrastructure, natural gas, fisheries and aquaculture.
In the afternoon, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit met with members of the Norwegian business delegation, and their official programme tomorrow will start with a business seminar.
Indonesia is six hours ahead of Norway, and todays programme will soon be concluded with an official dinner.
Finals at the Opera House
The Queen Sonja International Music Competition has reached the final stage. Her Majesty The Queen will be in attendance when the six finalists compete onstage at the Oslo Opera House this evening.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.