Globe-M: Please tell us about your background.
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: I studied International Law and Diplomacy at St John’s University, New York. Among my positions were Head of the Political Section at the Indonesia’s Permanent Representation to the United Nations, Geneva; Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indonesian Embassy in London; Director General for International Law and Treaties at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry. Since October 2010 I am the Ambassador of Indonesia in Germany.
Globe-M: How do you perceive Germany?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: Germany is a large country with a developed economy. It has a crucial role in the European Union. Chancellor Merkel is a woman who can really govern her country. We would like to have more cooperation with the German government and German people.
Globe-M: Can you please tell us about history and cultural traditions of Indonesia?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: Indonesia has a very ancient and rich culture, intertwined with religion and old traditions. There was a Western influence, especially from Portuguese traders and the Dutch colonists. We are influenced also by Arabic, Chinese and Malay cultures. We were also influenced by way of the ancient trading roots between the Far East and the Middle East. We have a multitude of religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam. Despite the influences of the foreign cultures, some regions in Indonesia preserve uniquely indigenous culture. Indigenous ethnic groups Mentawi, Asmat, Dani, Dayak, Toraya and many others still practice their ethnic rituals, customs and wear traditional clothes. The only aspect of culture that all ethnic groups share is language. Bahasa Indonesia or Indonesian language is widely spoken although its origin is in the western part of Indonesia. It is used at schools in the government offices and in the press. The major ethnic groups like Javanese and Sundanese still speak their native languages in daily conversation.
Indonesian culture is very diverse and rich. We have a saying “Diversity and Unity“. The basic life-guiding principles include the concepts of mutual assistance or ‘gotong royong’ and consultations or ‘musyawarah’ to arrive at a consensus or ‘mufakat’. Derived from rural life, this system is still very much in use in community life throughout the country.
Western culture has greatly influenced Indonesia in modern entertainment such as television shows, film and music, as well as political system and issues. India has notably influenced Indonesian songs and movies. A popular type of song is the Indian rhythmical ‘dangdut’, which is often mixed with Arab and Malay folk music.
Globe-M: What do you personally admire in the culture of Indonesia and in the culture of Germany?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: We have an almost similar cultural development in Indonesia and Germany. Indonesia has a lot of tolerance concerning religious communities. The recent government is very much committed to pluralism. Many countries see Indonesia as model for diverse religious society, where harmonious and peaceful coexistence of the various religious communities is practiced.
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. It is often said in the West that Islam and democracy cannot exist side by side. In fact, Indonesia has developed from a totalitarian state to one of the world’s largest democracies after the United States and India. This development proves that Islam and democracy can go hand in hand. This is now one of the basic elements of our diplomacy abroad. After the fall of the dictatorship ten years ago, Indonesia has transformed to one of the largest democracies.
Globe-M: What do you personally admire in the culture of Indonesia – music or dance, or something else?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: My personal choice is music. We have very many special kinds of music. We have very many different types of dance throughout our country. We like it very much, that we can show different types of musical and dance culture of Indonesia in the other countries and Germany. For example we have special dances from Papua. I admire the Javanese music, because I myself was born in Central Java.
Globe-M: What do you personally admire in the German culture?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: Now I am studying german classical music, but it is occasionally very difficult to understand. I get so many invitations to witness the performances. I am trying to enjoy myself and to learn more about the German culture.
Globe-M: What cultural politics does Indonesia persue at the moment?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: The government of Indonesia has undergone a reformation process since 1998, a lot of changes have been happening in Indonesia, and we are very proud of being of one of the largest democracies in the world. We have made a new improved Indonesia. We have a vision, how to develop our country by maximizing all the potentials that we have and all elements of nation in a synergy. This highly expected to answer the global challenge. The major components of Indonesia’s modern political culture were derived from the two central goals of the New Order government stability, development and growth. If authority in the Suharto era was based on the Armed Forces (ABRI)’s coercive support, the government’s legitimacy rested on its success in achieving socio-political stability and economic development. The cultural politics in the early 1990-ies primarily reflected non-traditional, non-ethnic and secular values. The government of Suharto represented the interests of the military, standing above the social, ethnic and religious divisions of the country as a unifying institution. The concerns of academics, writers and other intellectuals in the early 1990-ies were different and they were more likely to be influenced by the Western political values. It was from these circles that the pressure for democratization came. Their outlet was not political parties but cause-oriented nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) which organized workshops, seminars, rallies, and occasionally demonstrations. The government undertook a major effort to subsume all of Indonesia’s political cultures, with their different and often incompatible criteria for legitimacy, into a national political culture, an Indonesian culture based on the values set forth in the Pancasila.
Globe-M: Which influence has cultural policy on education?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: The government of Indonesia in the early 1990-ies saw itself as having a responsibility to advance a national culture, a project that was linked to requirements of national development and political integration. Government mandates aside, however, as more and more of the Indonesian population sought employment in large, poorly integrated cities consisting of diverse ethnic groups, the concept of a national culture had great appeal as a way of regulating these changing urban environments. In relating with this, the central government attempted to guide the formation of this culture through education curricula, national holiday celebrations, and careful control of the national media (popular art, television and print media); this emerging culture came from central planning. Evidence of an Indonesian national culture also appeared in the far less controlled layout and social organization of cities; routines of social interaction using the official national language – Bahasa Indonesia, patterns of eating and preparing food, viewing of team sports, such as soccer, badminton and volleyball, and motion pictures.
Globe-M: How do you protect the cultural heritage of Indonesia, how is it made accessible to the people and what interests lie behind it?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: The awareness of how important to protect and manage cultural heritage is improving greatly in Indonesia. The people of Indonesia believe that their heritage is not merely heritage, but far more are a legacy. It means that those cultural resources have a strong bond to be utilized to help and preserve this nation to pave the way of future. Indonesia has enacted the policy to protect cultural heritage inked in the criminal law. This law is perpetuated in the Government Decree about the protection of the cultural heritage. Yet, the protection of the cultural heritage of Indonesia was undertaken long before that with the law enacted by the Dutch colonial government called Monumenten Ordonnantie 1931. Internationally, Indonesia actively contributes in drafting the law to protect traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression as well as genetic resources. Indonesian diplomacy has already initiated to endorse this law to become internationally binding. This has resulted in a text based on the negotiations of the Intergovernmental Committee of WIPO conference on 6-10 December 2010. This negotiation convened a draft of treaty to protect the traditional cultural expressions from being claimed by foreign parties. Last month in Bandung we had special seminar on protection of the cultural heritage.
Globe-M: What events does your embassy organize in Berlin?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: There embassy organized many events this year. Among them are Indonesia-German Interfaith Dialogue, Promotion of Academic Cooperation and Ambassador’s working luncheon with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle, as the guest of honour. An International Energy Conference titled ‘Towards the Sustainability of Energy in Indonesia’ was organised in Munich, we participated in some international trade, cultural and tourism events and exhibitions in Hamburg, Berlin and Leipzig. We also regularly organize cultural performances and concerts.
Globe-M: What is the main focus in the cultural exchange?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: Any exchange programmes will be supported by Indonesian Embassy since such programmes will promote mutual understanding between Indonesia and Germany. Over the years, Indonesia and Germany have been bound by a spirit of friendship and mutual cooperation. During these years, the people and the government of Indonesia have undertaken to create an atmosphere of respect and understanding and forged a beneficial cooperative relationship. When two peoples separated geographically and who have distinct cultural backgrounds set upon to approach each other for friendship and mutual benefit, it is inevitable that they need to get to know each other more closely. We have organized very many events in cultural exchange – music, theatre and also visual arts In the future we need to discuss more on the purposes of this cooperation.
Cultural exchange programme has already been initiated by Indonesia and Germany in June 2010 by the project called ’U(DYS)TOPIA: The Appearance of Myths, Fairytales and legends today’ showcasing Indonesian and German artists. They conducted an artistic dialog and created collaborative art work, undertook shows and exhibitions in Berlin, Dresden and Cologne. Together with the Institute of Foreign Relations and Berlin’s Cultural Funding Programme we have organized the ID-Project or Indonesian Contemporary Arts Project that offers Berlin audience an insight into some of the rich contemporary art production from Indonesia.
In June 2011, the Embassy has included the Jakarta-Berlin Arts Festival in its cultural programme. During the festival the artists intend to stage the first European performances of theatre, dance and music productions from Jakarta that will be the part of the evening programmes in the different locations in Berlin. The Indonesian-German coproduction will comprise a significant part. Indonesian feature films and documentaries as well as readings of contemporary Indonesian authors in dialogue with Berlin authors and artists will also be a part of the daily programme. Moreover, there will be a day programme with lectures, panels, and workshops on contemporary Indonesian and German art and their centuries-old interconnection.
Globe-M: What would you personally like to achieve for Indonesia from a point of cultural politics?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: We’ve been trying to reach more for this cooperation on the level of governments and officials. But cooperation on the level of people is very important. I think that we must cooperate through an Indonesia-Germany Forum, which would encourage events on a regular basis.
Globe-M: Are you interested cultural exchange between Indonesia and Germany? What do you personally prefer – theatre, music, visual arts?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: The artists of Indonesia and Germany have to communicate with each other in order to create understanding between both governments and people. We are looking forward for cultural exchange and cooperation.
Globe-M: Can your country support such projects financially or organizationally?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: Usually we can support both ways. It depends of course on support of the both governments Indonesian and German.
Globe-M: Are you interested in cooperation with Globe-M?
Mr. Eddy Pratomo: Yes, we are very much interested and find your proposals very important.