In fact, Turkish-Indonesian relations can be traced back to the 12th century when Turkish Islamic scholars had visited Indonesia to spread Islamic teachings.
To strengthen the bilateral ties further, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made a state visit to Indonesia from July 30 to August 1, 2015, coinciding with the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
On July 6, this year, it was President Joko Widodos (Jokowis) turn to pay a reciprocal visit to Turkey. Jokowi commenced his state visit to Turkey by holding a one-on-one meeting with Erdogan.
The two presidents discussed economic development and security cooperation, including on counterterrorism efforts.
They also witnessed the signing of documents of agreements on health and economic cooperation at the White Palace in Ankara.
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi signed the document of agreement on health cooperation, while Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita signed the document of inauguration of negotiations on Indonesian-Turkish Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IT-CEPA).
"I welcome the signing of the two cooperation agreement documents between the governments of Indonesia and Turkey in the fields of health and the launch of negotiations on Indonesian and Turkish Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement," Jokowi stated.
Indonesia is keen to enhance cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, and economic by inaugurating IT-CEPA, which had been discussed since 2015.
"We have agreed to restore the positive trend in trade and investment, among others, through the IT-CEPA," President Jokowi noted.
President Erdogan expressed interest in establishing cooperation and partnership in various fields with Indonesia.
It is becoming increasingly important for Turkey and Indonesia to forge closer cooperation and partnership in various fields, Erdogan noted.
The countries also agreed to prioritize bilateral cooperation in several other fields, such as defense, energy, and counterterrorism.
Defense cooperation between the two countries has delivered significant results, with the launch of a medium-class tank called Kaplan, produced by Indonesia and Turkey.
In addition to the collaboration on tank production, both countries have agreed to work together in the aviation sector through the inking of a memorandum of understanding between PT DI and Turkish Aerospace Industry.
In the field of energy cooperation, Turkey is supporting Indonesia to supply electricity to regions in several Indonesian islands. Turkish electricity supply vessels have been operational in Medan, Amurang, Bolok, and Ambon to provide power to those regions.
After holding the bilateral meeting with Erdogan, the Indonesian head of state met the chief executive officers (CEOs) of three Turkish strategic industrial companies to discuss investment expansion.
The three CEOs were from Karadeniz Holding, Hitay Energy Holding, and Turkish Aerospace Industries.
On the occasion, the president also attended a business forum along with prospective investors and businesspersons who have invested in Indonesia.
Also present at the forum were Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rosan P. Roeslani and some entrepreneurs from Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Minister Lukita confirmed that Indonesia will remove factors that hinder trade with Turkey, including import and export duties on some commodities agreed by the two countries.
"Our trade value with Turkey reached US$1.3 billion in 2016, decreasing by 14 percent from that in the previous year," the minister said, adding that one of the causes of decline was tariffs.
"It is expected that by the end of this year or early next year, we will agree and start with trade in goods first," Enggartiasto stated, adding that the partnership is expected to increase the trade volume of two countries, considering the close bilateral relations and long history of friendship between the two countries.
The abolition of import duty to zero percent, is very likely to be realized, he added.
In the near future, Indonesia and Turkey will submit a list of commodities that are free of the import and export duties.
In the field of investment, the two countries inked a cooperation agreement on investment worth US$250 million (Rp6.7 trillion) during the state visit.
Head of the Capital Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Thomas Lembong noted in a written statement on July 7 that the cooperation was contained in two MoUs.
One MoU pertains to cooperation worth $320 million between Indonesias state-owned shipbuilding company PT PAL and Turkish electricity energy and powership firm Karadeniz Holding.
The other MoU covers cooperation between Indonesias state-owned aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia and the Turkish Aerospace Industry, with an agreement worth $200 million.
"The agreement covers the production of four powerships, with an electricity generation capacity of 36-80 megawatts (MW)," Lembong revealed.
Lembong said the cooperation to build powerships is in line with the Indonesian governments commitment to meeting the electricity needs of its people in isolated areas and to achieve the countrys target of developing power plants having a cumulative capacity of 35 thousand MW.
"The opportunity to invest in the production of powerships is huge. Hence, we will continue to monitor the commitment made by the two firms," the BKPM chief remarked.
He said the cooperation between PT PAL and Karadeniz Holding is expected to fill the gap for regional electricity supply vessels.
"Neighboring countries, such as the Philippines and Myanmar, are potential customers for the company," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the agreement between PT Dirgantara Indonesia and the Turkish Aerospace Industry covers three main points.
The agreements include cooperation in the fields of marketing & production extension of N219 and UAV-ANKA as well as the joint development and production of N245, particularly to expand reach in the Southeast Asian market, including Indonesia.
In the counterterrorism cooperation, President Erdogan has believed Indonesia is a country that is capable of facing terrorism.
He asserted that terrorism in any form must be resisted. The objective of an organization, such as ISIS, is to destroy peace, he said.
The Turkish President also emphasized the importance of cooperation on the exchange of intelligence information between both states.
To that end, the two countries agreed to build an information technology system of intelligence that will allow the two countries to cooperate in order to eradicate terrorism.
"The development of IT System in intelligence will make the works easier in order to eradicate terrorism," Jokowi said.
Last but not least, Indonesia expressed gratitude to Turkey for its support for Indonesias nomination as a member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2019-2020.
"Indonesia appreciates Turkeys support for Indonesias candidacy in the UN Security Council nomination for 2019-2020," Jokowi stated.(*)