By Priadji

Indonesia-Iran relations in the time of Covid-19

August 4, 2021 - 18:47

TEHRAN - Foreign Ministries of Indonesia and Iran had conducted the meeting of the Committee on Bilateral Consultation on July 5th 2021 through virtual platform/basis.

Both countries had time to more deeply explore much potential in face of the COVID-19 pandemic and also the situation surrounding Iran related to sanctions still imposed on the country. Yet, the talks, simultaneous with the 70 years of Indonesian-Iran diplomatic relations commemoration /celebration, focused on issues deemed feasible to be concretely implemented for both countries’ interests. 

Indonesia viewed the meeting as important to provide a good opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues of common concern, to build better understanding, and to find the best strategy to expand future cooperation on convergence issues among others: parliamentary cooperation, economic-trade promotion, information, science and tech cooperation, regional security and nuclear issue/sanction. 

This short article will shed light on efforts, opportunities, challenges and prospects for the two countries. The short article focuses only on two issues, deemed as most concrete and resulting for cooperation: health and women’s empowerment.   

In the history of more than 70 years of bilateral relations, Indonesia has been a true friend of Iran while Iran has always been an important partner, not only bilaterally but also regionally and internationally. While the two countries have achieved several milestones but abrupted due to the pandemic, Indonesia and Iran remain optimistic in redoubling the efforts to further enhance the bilateral ties. 

One of the biggest challenges to the relations is the pandemic and sanctions on Iran. Due to Covid-19, a number of visits by both sides needed to be rearranged and reformatted, causing some delay in the implementation phase. But more to be ‘Blessing in Disguise’ on the other way around, the pandemic further encourages stronger interaction between both sides: to follow up on phone conversation between President Joko Widodo and President Rouhani in April 2020, Indonesia welcomes any potential collaboration with Iran for joint production and transfer technology in medical devices and pharma products, including vaccines and therapeutic medicines for Covid-19.
The plan for the establishment of a hemodialysis equipment assembly facility in Indonesia strengthens the confidence for further collaboration in achieving our national self-resilience in the pharmaceutical and medical industries through joint research and development between our health institutions. 

Following the visit of the Indonesian Minister for Women’s Empowerment to Tehran in July 2018, the two sides now proceeding with concrete actions that women are rising to the occasion during the pandemic, not only as mother but as ‘bread winner’ as well.       

Indonesia-Iran relations are prospective and have potential ahead for more cooperation. It is so, among others, considering the followings: President Joko Widodo’s visit to Tehran in December 2016 followed by phone talk with President Rouhani in April 2020, signaled strong willingness of both parties for future collaboration, the concrete ones being mentioned above that are in health and woman empowerment issues. 

The Iranian president-elect Ebrahim Raisi, upon his election as the next Iran President as a result of the 18 June 2021 presidential election, had received a congratulatory message from President Joko Widodo, one among other positive signs for further bilateral relations/cooperation.

The pandemic, as mentioned above, has just strengthened and necessitate more concrete collaborative works ahead. Other things being equal, but for one thing, the bilateral works, as the Iranian side convinced, can be further enhanced and promoted with the hopeful prospect of Iran-US relations, in particular, pertaining the nuclear/sanctions issue.

In conclusion, it suffices to say that both countries have many in common, and the pandemic strengthened further the collaborative works in dealing with a pandemic, and simultaneously also elevates the issue of women’s empowerment in both countries. In short, Indonesia and Iran will never lose the opportunity to promote the relations for the people and interests of both countries.

This article only reflects the views of the author.

Priadji is a foreign policy enthusiast.

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