BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor .........home ...... Jan news

"Indeed, we are confident that our people have the capacity to govern ourselves and to establish and maintain a sustainable economy. This will all develop gradually. The country does not as yet have the means to support itself without assistance. In time, there will be revenues from oil and gas exploitation. Tourism will also thrive once we have created the necessary infrastructure and facilities. But in the short term, East Timor will need all the assistance it can get to build up its fragile economy. In conclusion Mr. President, I earnestly request, on behalf of the Second Transitional Government and the entire country that this Council endorse the concept of a successor mission, which has been carefully thought out and planned by my colleagues at UNTAET. In this way, the gains that have resulted from your tremendous commitment to East Timor so far will be consolidated and maintained in the crucial first years of Independence." Dr Jose Ramos-Horta is Senior Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Second Transitional Government East Timor
See also: BD: UN appointed, East Timorese, Second Transitional Government of East Timor

MEDIA RELEASE
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Second Transitional Government East Timor

Thursday 30 January 2002
For Immediate Release

RAMOS-HORTA ADDRESSES THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr Jose Ramos-Horta addresses the United Nations Security Council in New York today on the situation in East Timor.

I am often asked about security in East Timor, people remember the pictures of violence in 1999, yet the reality is our crime rate continues to be amongst the lowest in the world. Dr Ramos-Horta said today.

As well as the issue of security in East Timor Dr Ramos-Horta will also brief the UNSC on progress since July 2001, National Development Planning, Timorization, Capacity-building, Successor Mission, Refugees, Justice & Reconciliation, The Political Calendar for Council of Ministers and Constituent Assembly, Presidential Elections, East Timor and Indonesia relations, Treaties, Independence, and Post Independence.

The following is a copy of Dr Ramos-Horta’s speech:

I am honoured for the opportunity, once again, to brief the Security Council on the situation in East Timor. The welcome extended to myself and the SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello is, as always, most heart-warming. I am also bringing to you warm greetings from Mr Xanana Gusmao, Mr Mari Alkatiri and the two bishops of East Timor, Messeigneurs Carlos Belo and Basilio do Nascimento.

I would like to express a special note of appreciation to Ambassador Anund Priyay Neewoor of Mauritius. In many ways East Timor strives to emulate the thriving multiparty democracy and fast growing economy Mauritius has managed to build since its independence in 1968. You have managed to develop Mauritius from a largely agricultural based economy to a healthy middle-income diversified economy with growing industrial, financial, and tourist sectors.

It is our hope that East Timor will follow your example. If we can maintain our current peaceful and stable transition to independence and develop both our democracy and economy as well as you have done, we would have achieved a great deal.

Progress since July

Since I last had the opportunity to brief the Council, there has been continued progress in East Timor. This is visible in terms of the improvement in the daily lives of the people and in the steady building of our nation and its democratic institutions.

National Development Planning

As our Chief Minister, Dr. Mari Alkatiri, announced at the Oslo Donors Conference last month, we are undertaking a planning process that will result in a comprehensive National Development Plan, which we hope, will be ready by the time the next international donors meet in Dili in May.  Through this process we are taking stock of all that has been done since the end of 1999. We are reassessing our current institutions, programmes and budget, and we are identifying our short, medium and long-term goals and objectives.

This is a wholly East Timorese undertaking. It is co-ordinated by our Planning Commission, and comprises both government and civil society representation. Xanana Gusmão is heading a national consultative body whose responsibility it is to identify the hopes and aspirations of the people of East Timor and to feed these into the National Planning process. As you will appreciate, our National Development Plan will be leveraged around our main priority - poverty alleviation.

Timorization, Capacity-building

Closely related to the National Development Plan are the various capacity building initiatives that are under way. UNTAET has been involved in capacity building work throughout its mandate, but the findings of a recent UNDP funded capacity building study has allowed us to follow a much more focused and concerted capacity building programme.

There is almost no sector for which a capacity building programme of some sort is not underway or being planned.

We have great hope for the multiplying effect this investment in our human resources and institutions will produce over the next few years.

Security situation

The reported crime rate in East Timor continues to be amongst the lowest in the world. In 2001 there were four reported cases of murder, none of which were politically motivated.

One area in which reported crime is increasing is that of domestic violence, particularly against women. Perhaps the increase in reporting is also indicative of a growing trust in the police and justice system, but this is nevertheless a worrying development.

In numerous gatherings around the country many of us have spoken out and appealed to the communities to seriously reflect on this heartbreaking reality in our country and to join efforts to put an end to this.

I am pleased with the public information campaign that is now being undertaken by UNTAET, the Transitional Government and the Catholic Church against domestic violence. This is a problem that should be dealt with not only by the justice system, but also by all organs of the state and civil society.

The East Timor Police Service now has over 1400 trained officers deployed all over East Timor. Many are holding command positions, with international CivPol monitoring and giving guidance where necessary. Two hundred and fifty more are currently undergoing training at the Police Academy in Dili.

The same positive developments are taking place with regard to the establishment of the East Timor Defence Force. Six hundred East Timorese make up the first ETDF battalion.

Their recent move to the base vacated by the Korean PKF battalion in Lospalos was a significant milestone. The Force has received a high standard of training with assistance from Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, the US and the Republic of Korea.

The marine component of our new Defence Force took possession of two modified Albatross patrol boats donated by Portugal this month. The boats will be used to patrol East Timorese coastal waters and protect our country?s maritime resources.

Successor Mission

Although the downsizing of the PKF is a positive indicator of our progress, we are still concerned about the ability of some former militia elements to destabilize our country.

We are thus very pleased with the plans proposed by the Secretary-General in his report that would see the continued presence of the PKF and the international Civilian Police beyond independence. It is comforting to us to know that we will continue to be supported by the international community and that a reasonable and logical plan is in place.

This plan links the reduction of the role and size of the PKF and CIVPOL in relation to the capacity of the East Timor Police and Defence Forces to assume more of these responsibilities.

Refugees

There are still some 40,000 to 70,000 East Timorese refugees living in refugee camps in West Timor. There are many reasons why the refugees have not yet returned to their homeland. I agree with Mr. de Mello’s assessment that this reluctance to return is due to an ongoing campaign of misinformation and intimidation in the camps, as well as, and perhaps more importantly, economic concerns.

Those who have returned to East Timor tell of wild rumours circulating in the camps about how refugees who have returned to their villages have been tortured or even killed. To counter this, various agencies have instigated a number of “come-and-see” visits from the refugee camps.

In addition, the Swiss-funded Fondation Hirondelle began daily language broadcasts on Radio UNTAET, which are re-broadcast on the Indonesian State?s radio network in West Timor. This helps to provide accurate information to the refugees on the conditions in East Timor.

When Xanana Gusmão travelled to West Timor in November he met with Indonesian government and military officials, militias and pro-autonomy leaders. He was welcomed with rapturous applause by several hundred refugees. His visit was a further step towards building the confidence of the refugees.

In fact recent returnees have indicated that large numbers of those still in the camps are intending to return at the end of the rainy season when they have harvested their current crops.

Dialogue continues between UNTAET, the Second Transitional Administration and a wide range of representatives of those in the camps. Last week, an East Timorese team travelled to Kupang with the full support of the Chief Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri, Mr. Xanana Gusmão and myself. It has been made clear that those who have committed crimes in East Timor will have to face the justice system. Many are ready and willing to do so.

We in East Timor understand that many still in West Timor are themselves victims, and are confident that the justice system will treat them fairly.

Justice & Reconciliation

The road to peace and stability asks from us that we establish accountability for the atrocities committed, assist in community reconciliation and put proper mechanisms in place to prevent human rights violations in the future.

With regard to serious crimes, substantial progress has been made.  33 indictments charging 83 individuals with serious crimes, including crimes against humanity have been filed.

15 cases have already been heard by the Special Panel for Serious Crimes, including the so called Lospalos case, concerning the operations of a militia group in the East of the country. This was the first trial for crimes against humanity to take place in East Timor, and the first example worldwide of the application of laws originally formulated for the International Criminal Court.

Last week, seven newly elected National Commissioners of the East Timorese Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation were sworn in. This Commission will first of all seek to establish the truth about the human rights violations in East Timor between April 1974 and October 1999.  Secondly, it will facilitate community reconciliation with justice. The Commission will hold public hearings and facilitate the conclusion of Community Reconciliation Agreements between the victim, the perpetrator of less serious crimes and the local community. Thirdly, it will submit a report to the Government outlining recommendations as to how to prevent human rights violations in the future.

We are confident that with both the Serious Crimes Panels and the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in place and operating, we will be able to transform our legacy of past oppression, conflicts, human rights violations and divisions.

The Political Calendar

Council of Ministers

The Council of Ministers, inaugurated on 20 September last year, continues to supervise the work of the East Timor Public Administration. As part of a campaign to encourage direct contact between the Government and the population, the Council is holding a series of open meetings in each of the 13 districts attended by thousands of common people and local community leaders.

Constituent Assembly

Following peaceful elections in August of last year, the newly elected members of our constitution writing body, the Constituent Assembly, were sworn in on 20 September. Four committees were created, each preparing a different section of the constitution.

When the first draft was completed, the Assembly members convened in plenary and began a period of intense debate on each draft article. This process has moved steadily and the draft has now being finalized and scheduled for formal vote in early March.

Many sections of civil society were eager to be involved in the constitutional process. Much encouragement was received from international sources as well. The Assembly is now in the final stages of the process.  Last week, it decided to extend the final drafting period until the beginning of March. I am pleased that such a decision was taken. We have the unique opportunity to create a new and very progressive constitution and should take all the time and advice we need to do this successfully.

I have been closely monitoring the constitutional drafting process and am pleased to report that the Constitution puts special emphasis on civil and political, as well as economic and social rights. Moreover, as stated in the draft itself, the whole of the Constitution must be interpreted in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Presidential Elections

Having shown democratic maturity in our recent Constituent Assembly elections, my East Timorese brothers and sisters are eagerly looking forward to the next step, the election of East Timor’s first President. The election is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 14.

There have been a number of calls from civil society groups and some political parties for fresh legislative elections to be held at the same time, or as soon as possible, after independence. This is an important indication of the vibrancy of the political scene and the desire of the people to fully participate in our new democracy.

East Timor and Indonesia relations

The East Timorese Government continues to forge solid working relationships with the Government of Indonesia. On the 19th of November we warmly welcomed a delegation from the Government of Indonesia to Dili, for the first negotiations between the two governments to be held in East Timor.  This followed several rounds of talks held in Indonesia.

This Third Joint Border Committee Meeting agreed to commence demarcation of the border. Subsequent technical meetings resulted in a Joint Work Plan and an agreement to carry out a joint reconnaissance survey. The reconnaissance survey will begin on 15 February, paving the way for a clearly demarcated border between East Timor and Indonesia. This will be a major step towards the creation of a normalized border between East and West Timor.

The next round of high-level meetings between Indonesia and East Timor will take place in Denpasar, Bali, on 25th February. The two sides will work hard till then and hope to be able to sign agreements on the establishment of postal links between Indonesia and East Timor, an Arrangement on Regulated Cross Border Markets, an Arrangement on Traditional and Customary Border Crossings, and possibly a Police Co-operation Protocol.

The following day a trilateral meeting will be held, including Australia.  Following that, East Timor will be a full participant in a regional conference at ministerial level jointly hosted by Australia and Indonesia.  At this meeting 40 or so countries will discuss issues such as the smuggling of persons and transnational crime.

The Indonesian authorities have shown good will and determination in curtailing militia activities on Indonesian soil.

On the justice and accountability fronts, we are encouraged by the steps taken so far by the Government of President Sukarnoputri.

We all hope to see that justice and credible punishment are meted out to those responsible for the violence committed in East Timor in 1999.

In the wider region, our ASEAN neighbours continue to offer very important support to East Timor reconstruction and development, capacity building, and security.

We have initiated formal contacts with our ASEAN neighbours with a view to East Timor signing the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

Treaties

We are currently in the process of identifying international treaties that East Timor should accede to once it has gained independence. The Foreign Ministry is working in close consultation with other Ministries, UNTAET and with UN agencies to prioritise and prepare the necessary steps.

It is our intention that at independence or shortly thereafter, East Timor will accede to the greatest possible number of international human rights treaties. In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation is closely monitoring the drafting of the Constitution to ensure that nothing therein violates any of the treaties to which East Timor is likely to be a party.

For the people of East Timor, membership in the United Nations enjoys strong national support. We are looking forward to our country joining the organization and becoming an active and constructive member.

Independence

Planning is well underway for celebrations before the 20th of May, the day on which East Timor will finally achieve independence.

After so many years of struggle and hardship, our people are anxiously waiting and have begun the countdown towards independence.

As part of the modest but creative program, there will be a film festival, cultural shows, sporting events, a trade exposition and much more. At midnight on the 19th of May, an official ceremony, including the raising of the East Timorese flag will signal the dawn of a new era, one in which East Timor finally becomes a truly independent nation.

We in East Timor are aware that this is, in many ways, just the start of an exciting period in the history of our nation. The nation is poor in terms of capacity, as well as economic and social development. But more than anybody, the East Timorese know that to persevere is to succeed.

Post Independence

A great deal has been achieved during the relatively short time that UNTAET has been working with us to successfully achieve transition to independence. In terms of capacity-building alone, it seems extraordinary that in two years so much has been put in place - an elected Assembly, a Council of Ministers, police and defence forces and a functioning justice system.

Anyone visiting East Timor today who witnessed the destruction in 1999 will agree that great progress has been made in the reconstruction of the country. Family houses are being rebuilt everywhere. New shops are opening up all the time. Agricultural output has reached the pre 1999 level. More children are now enrolled in schools than in 1999. In 2001 East Timor enjoyed an 18% economic growth in real terms. The previous year it posted a 15% growth. This will slow down this year.

One of the most rewarding experiences I have when flying over East Timor is to see the sun glinting off all the reconstructed houses in the countryside. It is clear that people have confidence in the future.

Indeed, we are confident that our people have the capacity to govern ourselves and to establish and maintain a sustainable economy. This will all develop gradually. The country does not as yet have the means to support itself without assistance. In time, there will be revenues from oil and gas exploitation. Tourism will also thrive once we have created the necessary infrastructure and facilities. But in the short term, East Timor will need all the assistance it can get to build up its fragile economy.

In conclusion Mr. President, I earnestly request, on behalf of the Second Transitional Government and the entire country that this Council endorse the concept of a successor mission, which has been carefully thought out and planned by my colleagues at UNTAET. In this way, the gains that have resulted from your tremendous commitment to East Timor so far will be consolidated and maintained in the crucial first years of Independence.

- ends -

For further information contact:

Ms Caroline O’Brien
Media Liaison Officer - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Second Transitional Government East Timor
Telephone: +61 (0)417 804 298
Email: contact_carolineo@hotmail.com
Website: http://www.gov.tp


Sr. Dr. José Ramos-Horta  Updated Jan 31, 2002

* Dr Jose Ramos-Horta is an internationally-renowned spokesperson for the East Timorese cause. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for “sustained efforts to hinder the oppression of small people”.

* Dr Ramos-Horta has been a dynamic and determined advocate for a free and independent East Timor. From 1976 until 1989, he was the permanent representative of the Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independente (FRETILIN) at the United Nations. He currently holds the position of Senior Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in the United Nations appointed, all East Timorese, second transitional cabinet of East Timor.


See also:
BD: UN appointed, East Timorese, Second Transitional Government of East Timor / Pemerintahan Transisi Kedua Timor-Timur - A collection of recent media releases, reports, articles and news


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor .........home ...... Jan news
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