The bilateral or diplomatic relations between the Republic of Indonesia and the Sultanate of Oman were established a long time ago. However, the Embassy of Indonesia in Muscat is relatively new. It was officially opened at the end of 2010, and as the first Indonesian Ambassador to the Sultanate, I presented my Letter of Credence to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on August 28, 2012.
Reciprocally, the Sultanate's Embassy in Jakarta opened almost at the same time. We are waiting for the assignment of the first Omani Ambassador to Indonesia. The opening of the resident Embassies of Indonesia and Oman in the capitals of the respective countries marks the new era of bilateral relations between these two friendly countries. As a matter of fact, Indonesia and Oman have many similarities and can work hand-in-hand for the betterment of their respective people and for the world as well.
With regard to foreign policy, for example, Indonesia and Oman share a basic foreign policy of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of others. Both countries will remain steadfast in pursuing global peace and prosperity. Because of this policy of non-intervention, Oman has been trusted to mediate some disputes involving other countries. And so did Indonesia, for example when it actively engaged in the peaceful settlement of the Cambodian conflict in the early 1990s.
On the domestic front, in my opinion, since the day of Renaissance under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman has enjoyed true political stability and tremendous development. Before taking up my ambassadorial post last year, I had the opportunity to visit Oman twice, in 2008 and 2010 for a short business trip.
Even in that relatively short period, between 2008 and 2012, I witnessed significant development going on here. Indonesia is also enjoying political stability. I should admit, however, that the political life in Indonesia is rather noisy. Despite that noise, as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated, decisions are made, problems are solved, and things do go forward. We strive hard to maintain internal stability because we are pretty much aware that stability is a conditio sine quo non for our development.
Maintaining security and stability in Indonesia, a country with more than 245 million people, consisting of more than 300 ethnic groups, who are living in an archipelagic state of more than 17,000 islands has not been easy. The world financial crisis of 1998 was a kind of traumatic experience for Indonesia because that financial crisis escalated into a social, political and even worst it ignited a security crisis.
Luckily, after surviving that inferno-like situation we became stronger. So when another financial crisis struck in 2008, we could smoothly manage it. The present Indonesia is surely different than it was a decade ago or so. Indonesia is now a member of G-20, the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It is already the largest economy in Southeast Asia, accounting for about 34 per cent of the region's GDP. With the GDP of $ 1 trillion (PPP), Indonesia stands at number 15 in the world.
Thanks to our prudent economic policy, we can still enjoy a positive economic growth amid the world economic uncertainty. Since 2001, the Indonesian economy has grown consistently above 6 per cent except in 2009 when we grew only by 4.6 per cent in spite of the global financial crisis. It is predicted that in the next decade another 60 million low-income Indonesian will join the middle-class.
A survey conducted by the BBC of 24,000 people across 24 countries concluded that Indonesia is the most favorable place for entrepreneurs. In terms of economic growth, the economic condition of Oman is alike with that of Indonesia.
While in other parts of world some countries are experiencing an economic decline, Oman enjoys positive growth. With a lot of similarities coupled with internal stability and robust economic performances, Indonesia and Oman, together with the world community, can play a significant role in creating a peaceful and prosperous world.
There are ample opportunities for cooperation in political, economic and cultural fields between the Sultanate of Oman and ASEAN and with efforts these relations could be taken to new heights for mutual benefits.
Sukanto is Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Sultanate of Oman