France–Indonesia relations

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France–Indonesia relations
Map indicating locations of France and Indonesia



France–Indonesia relations are foreign bilateral relations between the French Republic and the Republic of Indonesia. The indirect relation between France and Indonesia was commenced during early 19th century colonial Dutch East Indies. Since 2011 both nations has formed a strategic partnership.[1]

France has an embassy in Jakarta while Indonesia has an embassy in Paris. The relations between two nations are important as both are democratic republics and both holds significant geopolitical influences in each regions, France is a key member of European Union, as well as Indonesia for ASEAN. The diplomatic relation between France and Indonesia is also a key element for developing relations between Indonesia and the European Union and between France and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.[2] Both nations are the member of G-20 major economies.

According to a 2013 BBC World Service Poll, 56% of Indonesians view France's influence positively, with only 14% expressing a negative view, one of the most favourable perceptions of France in Asia Pacific after South Korea's and Australia's view.[3]


The indirect relation between France and Indonesia was commenced during early 19th century colonial Dutch East Indies. During Napoleonic Wars the Netherlands was fell under French Empire, thus also its possessions in East Indies. For a short period between 1806 and 1811, Indonesia once belonged under French administration.[4] During the reign of Governor General Herman Willem Daendels (1808–1811), France exercised its political influences in East Indies through Dutch Republic. Daendels was Dutch Francophile, and during his reign in Java he built a grand palace known as Het White Huis (The White House) or Het Groote Huis (The Big House), today the Indonesian Ministry of Finance building, that demonstrate French Empire style.[5] He also renamed the Buffelsveld (buffalo field) to Champs de Mars (today Merdeka square). The battle for Java was fought between British and French-Dutch Republics during Anglo-Dutch Java War in 1811.

The French Revolution and its Republic government also inspired the later Indonesian nationalist movement in the early 20th century. The political concept of Republic of Indonesia was partly influenced by Republic of France model. Indonesia also adopted the Napoleonic Continental legal system through Dutch intermediary. Indonesian law is often described as a member of the 'civil law' or 'Continental' group of legal systems found in European countries such as France and the Netherlands.[6] After the independence of Indonesia, the diplomatic relations was established in 1951.[7]

High level visits[edit]

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono visited French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris in December 2009. Both nations have agreed to form a strategic partnership in 2011.[8] In July 2011, France’s Prime Minister François Fillon and his entourage visited Jakarta.[9] At 29 March 2017, French President Francois Hollande made a historic visit to Indonesia.[10]

Economic relations[edit]

In 1986, Indonesian French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI) was established to develop and foster economic, commercial and financial relations between France and Indonesia.[11] In 2011 the bilateral trade between France and Indonesia amounting to US$2.5 billion, and France is the 13th largest investor in Indonesia.[9] Indonesian imports from France includes aircraft equipment, machine and computer, electronic and precision equipment, chemical, cosmetics and perfume, food, metal and metallurgical products and pharmaceuticals. On the other hand, France imports from Indonesia includes agricultural, silvicultural and fishery products, textiles and footwear. Currently there are about 100 French companies operating in Indonesia.[12] French companies operating in Indonesia among others are Total, Michelin, AXA, Eurocopter, Air France and Carrefour.[13]


The objective of French cultural cooperation action is to support Indonesia’s development as a new emerging country. Accordingly, it gives priority to research (rural development, aquaculture, volcanology, geophysics, and archaeology), university exchanges, primarily in the fields of technology and biological sciences, vocational training, support for strengthening the rule of law and democratic governance. Which includes legislative technical assistance, fight against terrorism and corruption, decentralization, human rights training. The implementation of quality cultural actions, such as through the "French Springtime" (Le Printemps Français) cultural festival and audiovisual policy.

France also has established Institut Français in Indonesian cities of Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Surabaya, a French cultural center with the mission to promote French culture in Indonesia through cultural performances and exhibitions, film and mediatheque.[14]


The culture-linguistic relations between Indonesian and French were conducted through Dutch, as evident in Indonesian loanwords from French that mainly political or military terms, such as kudeta (from coup d'état), legiun (from légion) and letnan (from lieutenant).

Institut Français Indonesia also offering French course for Indonesian students.[14]


Based on the expertise of the Advisory Board on Archaeological Research Abroad, the Foreign Affairs Ministry (DGCID) is subsidisies the following archaeological missions in Indonesia:

  • Borneo: Diachronic study of uses and Rock Art in the caves and rock shelters of East Kalimantan
  • Java 01: A prehistoric site from the upper Pleistocene period
  • Java 02: The first populations on the Indonesian archipelago
  • Tapanuli


In art and musics, France and Indonesia has mutual cultural ambassador, Anggun an Indonesian French-naturalised singer-songwriter, is popular in both France and Indonesia.[15][16]

Current issue[edit]

Capital punishment[edit]

In 2015, a French citizen Serge Atlaoui, is facing deathrow in Indonesian prison.[17] During the raid on a factory producing ecstasy in Tangerang, in 2005, the Indonesian police busted Atlaoui there. He was subsequently convicted in 2007 for the possession of 138 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, 290 kg of ketamine and 316 drums of precursor substances. Atlaoui has repeatedly denied the charges; saying that he was installing industrial machinery in what he thought was an acrylics factory.[18]

On 22 April 2015, French President Francois Hollande warned Indonesia that the execution would damage the relations between the two nations.[19] Atlaoui was spared from the execution on 29 April 2015, and currently, his sentence is being postponed.[20] France is strongly opposed to the death penalty in any place and in any context and not only when the life of one of our nationals is at stake. France has been abolitionist since 1981.[1] The diplomatic relations is described as 'normal' despite Atlaoui case.[18]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Interview de Mme l'Ambassadeur au Jakarta Post le 16 décembre 2014". Ambassade de France à Jakarta. 16 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "France and Indonesia". France Diplomatie. 1 August 2012. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  3. ^ 2013 World Service Poll BBC
  4. ^ Asvi Warman Adam. "The French and the British in Java, 1806–15". Britannica. 
  5. ^ Heuken, Adolf (2000). Historical sites of Jakarta. Jakarta: Cipta Loka Caraka. pp. 199–200. 
  6. ^ Timothy Lindsey, ed. (2008). Indonesia, Law and Society. Federation Press. p. 2. ISBN 9781862876606. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "France celebrates Bastille Day in iconic style". The Jakarta Post. Jakarta. 15 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Erwida Maulia (16 December 2009). "RI, France agree on 'unlimited' strategic partnership". The Jakarta Post. 
  9. ^ a b Retno L.P. Marsudi (5 July 2011). "Fillon's visit and quality France-RI relations". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  10. ^ "First Visit to Indonesia by French President in 30 years". The Peninsula Qatar. 30 March 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017. .
  11. ^ "Who we are, What we do". Indonesian French Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 
  12. ^ "Economic relations". France Diplomatie. Retrieved 18 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Indonesian French Chamber of Commerce and Industry". 
  14. ^ a b "Institut Français Indonesia". Institut Français Indonesia. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "Anggun". Eurovision. 
  16. ^ Liam Clark (May 28, 2014). "Anggun wins World Music 2014 award". 
  17. ^ "Indonesia rejects French death row convict Serge Atlaoui clemency". BBC. 22 June 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Dylan Amirio (5 May 2015). "France-RI relations 'normal' despite Atlaoui case". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  19. ^ "France warns Indonesia against executing French citizen". Channel News Asia. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "The inmates executed or spared by Indonesia". BBC. 29 April 2015. 

External links[edit]