Indonesian Ambassador Mr Harry Richard James Kandou speaks about long-standing friendship between Serbia and Indonesia and about his life in Belgrade
Historical ties between our two countries were always strong. What did you know about Serbia, what did you expect from it and what were your impressions once you came here?
Serbia is a country that represents the beauty of the Balkans and the warm culture with the nice people. While the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Serbia have always been close since the Yugoslavia era, Serbia is indeed a good friend of Indonesia in many aspects within the international relations and community.
Obviously, my expectation in my capacity as the ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia was to be able to maintain this good friendship between Indonesia and Serbia and keep strengthening the good relations of the two countries.
I could say that I was grateful to be in Serbia especially in the first time I came here. I felt like the country welcomed me warmly and I was feeling easy to settle my first stay in Begrade. I sincerely thank you for giving me and my family the beautiful side of Serbia.
How does Belgrade compare to other places where you’ve served as a diplomat?
I have been diplomat for more than 30 years. And there have been many countries and cities where I have been assigned during my diplomatic career. And Belgrade is included to be my list as the nice place that I really enjoy for staying, working and spending my leisure time.
Were you at all surprised that there is a strong and vibrant interest in Indonesia and
Indonesian art and culture in Serbia?
Indonesia is a rich country with art and culture. I am really proud when promoting the rich culture of Indonesia. And this is remarkable since Indonesia has more than 16.000 islands, 34 provinces and 700 local languages from hundreds of tribes. If you visit Indonesia, you will surely be amazed with the culture and art that we have. And notifying our art and culture is enthusiastically accepted in Serbia, I was definitely happy and honestly quite surprised at the beginning. I thank you for being interested in our culture and art.
The two countries are religiously and culturally very different and they’re physically distant. Still, are there any similarities between the two people?
Distance between Indonesia and Serbia really is pretty big, but the two countries have several socio-cultural similarities. One of them is tolerance. Both Indonesia and Serbia have majority in religion. Indonesia with its Muslim majority and Serbia that is dominated by Christian orthodoxy. No matter what, both Indonesia and Serbia live in harmony within these somewhat distinct religions in society. The majority of a religion does become a challenge, however, but both states embed great tolerance that may counter the issue.
Did you manage to find a place in Belgrade you can call your piece of home? What is it and
As I said, Belgrade to me is a nice place for living, but for working as well. I may say that most places in Belgrade gave me great impressions, thus, it is hard to me to recall one of the places in Belgrade as my piece of home. I enjoy Belgrade as a whole.
Indonesian and Serbian cuisines are very different – the former is very spicy and based on vegetables. What do you think about Serbian food? What is your favorite dish?
The cuisine in the two countries does vary and I love both of them. And my favorite goes to the spicy and grilled meat. And the majesty of Serbian grilled meat is such a heavenly part of your cuisine. I enjoy it a lot.
By: Ivana Slavković