Monday, September 18, 2006

Hala!

You all may recall, a month ago to the day, the Indonesian Embassy in Oslo issued a Press Release announcing:

"...the Governments of Indonesia and Norway have agreed to increase cooperation in fields such as energy, trade, politics, and security."

This latest news story details how progress in the last month has resulted in a strengthening of ties and shared vision between the two countries, particularly in the area of human rights.

Knut Asplund, an associate of the Norwegian Center for Human Rights explains:

"We want to become a sort of humanitarian superpower."

More power to the anyone with the goal to be a humanitarian superpower. But I'm posting the article here for you guys because one point confuses me. Why is it important that an article about human rights also report that:

"All three Norwegian oil and gas companies, Statoil, Norsk Hydro and Saga Petroleum have signed development agreements with Indonesia equivalents."


Is there some correlation between energy resources and human rights I'm somehow unaware of?

S.

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INDO-NORWAY RELATIONS STRENGTHEN OVER SHARED VISION FOR MEDIA, HUMAN RIGHTS AND TRADE

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on the international media Saturday to play a mediating role in conflicts rather than fanning animosity.

"You are society's conscience, you are the agents of change and we count on you to help the human race by promoting freedom of speech, spreading tolerance and advancing peace and understanding," he said in his opening remarks at the Global Inter-Media Dialogue here.

As the leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation, Yudhoyono said the Muslim community worldwide was not asking for special treatment but for the respect given to other religious groups.

He said the media should encourage people to move beyond their image of Islam through learning about one another and discussing any differences or similarities.

"In times of hostility, it is always critical to narrow the perception gap, avoid misunderstandings and maintain communication through accurate information. No one can do this better than the media."

Speaking on the same occasion, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store said it was important to discuss the extent to which the media should take into account sensitivities that are not protected by the law yet deeply held.

"Freedom of expression can never be exercised in isolation from its context. Awareness of other people's sensitivities and of their right to be treated with respect should be part of all normal, civilized behavior," he said.

For Norway, as it is with most other Scandinavian countries, human rights has become a major foreign policy issue, at times even the defining issue around which other aspects of bilateral relations are built.

"Norway is trying to find its place in international diplomacy, a niche," Knut Asplund, an associate of the Norwegian Center for Human Rights explains. "We want to become a sort of humanitarian superpower."

Human rights is the obvious choice for a country in which the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year. Norway's contribution to international peace includes the 1993 Oslo Agreement between Israel and Palestine.

In recent weeks Norway and Indonesia have reached a milestone in the development of bilateral relations between the two countries. All three Norwegian oil and gas companies, Statoil, Norsk Hydro and Saga Petroleum have signed development agreements with Indonesia equivalents. Such discussions have not only formalized the growing interest for trade and economic relations between our two countries, but also delivered a mutual promise of military support from one country to the other, should either require a partner in the defense of their shared economic interests.



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