Home / Agenda / Toespraak van Zijne Majesteit de Koning ter gelegenheid van Europalia Indonesia 2017

Toespraak van Zijne Majesteit de Koning ter gelegenheid van Europalia Indonesia 2017

10 oktober 2017

Mr. Vice-President, Mrs. Kalla, Mrs. President, Excellencies,

Bapak Bapak dan Ibu Ibu yang terhormat  (Ladies and gentlemen),

Selamat dating (Be most welcome),

Queen Mathilde and I are extremely glad to receive today your distinguished delegation, among which many old friends of Belgium. We have fond memories of our previous meetings with you, Mr. Vice-President and Mrs. Kalla, in Indonesia and in Belgium, 9 years ago, as well as last year’s visit to Belgium of President Widodo.

We are grateful that you have all made the long trip to Belgium for the opening of the Europalia Arts festival. Spanning a period of four months, this festival is a unique opportunity to present your magnificent country to the Belgian and European public.

Indonesia is an old and rich civilization, spread over an archipelago of about 17.000 islands, stretching out 5.000 km from east to west. Your history was shaped by this geography, and the ecological and cultural variety that goes with it. Diversity is your hallmark. You are hosting among the world’s biggest biodiversity : Indonesia possesses unique ecosystems, 10% of the world’s flowers and 17% of the world’s bird species. Your cultural diversity is even more impressive : as a maritime country, you have always kept an eye over the horizon, you have been a trade center, a meeting point for human migrations and a breeding ground for different religious and philosophical opinions.

In today’s globalized world, we realize more than ever that our future is interdependent. Beyond our differences, we have to find common ground and join forces in order to tackle the common challenges we face like sustainable development, climate change, religious extremism and many others. We have to find unity in diversity, time and again. In the Indonesian motto, it sounds Bhinnêka tunggal ika’ (Different but One), a concept taken from an old poem of the 14th century teaching religious tolerance. It is part of your national philosophy, the Pañcasīla, for the safeguard of which your President recently made a vibrant appeal.  In the European motto we say ‘In varietate concordia’ (United in diversity) and in Belgium ‘Strength lies in unity’.

We all say it. But how do we get there ? Our unity, any nation’s unity and the world’s unity depend on two notions : respect for each other’s dignity and some form of common purpose.

Unity of people does not imply dilution of identities. When Indonesians proudly compare their country to a rainbow, they express an age-old awareness that the most wonderful beauty stems from respect for each other. What the exhibition in our Fine Arts Museum shows is : no matter whether you are a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Christian, some Indonesian rituals bridge the differences and create a common feeling. In the same way, Europalia will showcase the diversity of your talents. Authors, choreographers and dancers, painters, poets, singers, designers, video- and installation artists, composers and conductors, and, of course, puppeteers and gamelan players : they will all bring a piece of Indonesia to Europe. And I am sure Belgians and Europeans will at the end recognize the Indonesian identity through the most beautiful rainbow that was ever seen.

Unity also comes from a common purpose. Indonesia and Belgium have already joined forces in many fields : we work together to address the global challenges I referred to earlier. Our companies have found shared interests in trade and investment, as we again noticed at last year's economic mission led by my sister Princes Astrid. Our universities develop joint programs.  I am glad to see the fruitful continuation of negotiations aimed at concluding an Indonesia-EU free trade agreement. We can do many other things together, bringing about more peace and prosperity in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We all have become what we are thanks to our openness to others. Today's gathering and the many exchanges that will follow during the course of the Europalia festival, will no doubt constitute a breeding ground for deeper mutual understanding and respect. They will for sure reinforce the basis for deepening cooperation in many fields. It is with this firm conviction in mind that I ask you to stand for a toast.

Ladies and gentleman, please join me in raising our glasses to the President and the Vice-President of the Republic of Indonesia.