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"[Horta] said in his meeting with Alexander Downer ... they agreed "maybe we should put aside (the maritime boundary issue) while we find a framework for a fairer acceptance of resource allocation. How do we structure (these negoitiations?) we asked each other?". Horta said his (own) choices were either to "push Australia into a corner" or seek "a way out for both sides". He said that now "a financial agreement will be found that will be fairer to both sides". He acknowledged the key role of Australia (in mobilising international opinion to support Interfet) in late 1999. He couched this comment in the context of the difficulty (usually) associated with mobilising the UN Security Council to take action against mass killings and genocidal situations. (Implying that the trade off for 'resources before borders' with Downer was also squaring off Timor's debt to Australia?)" Jefferson Lee, Timor Sea Campaign officer, Australia East Timor Association (NSW) & member, Timor Sea Justice Coalition Sydney


Report on Jose Ramos Horta Talk to the Inaugural Meeting of the "Politics Society"


Sydney University, Mungo MacCullum Room , Thursday 12 August 2004.


Author:

Jefferson Lee,

Special Projects & Timor Sea Campaign officer, AETA Sydney, NSW
Member, TSJC Sydney, NSW

PO Box 703 Leichhardt, NSW 2040
Home phone: (02) 9519-4788 or
Mobile (0425) 20-1638
Email: jefferson.lee@bigpond.com


Australia East Timor Association (NSW) - Sydney
AETA events / About AETA:
http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/aeta.html

Timor Sea Justice Coalition (TSJC) - Sydney
Home:
http://www.TimorSeaJustice.org



Revised & validated by Jeff Lee: 17 Aug 2004



Speaking under the broad topic of "What are the Challenges for Future Leaders in Australia?" Horta began with some anecdotal stories from South America and Burma as backdrops for making points about human rights and diplomacy under the UN system. He highlighted that East Timor was one of the few Third World situations where the people have triumphed because of its unique situation. He reflected on the changing circumstances that affected the debate over (unilateral and UN multilateral) foreign interventions to prevent genocide in the context of the UN paralysis over Cambodia, Rwanda and other recent tragedies. This was the backdrop to his defence of his position on the Iraq War which he revised (from his 2003 position) to one where the USA intervention was justifiable but the Bush leadership was not the correct government to carry it out (successfully). 

Further, the "No War" camp has to answer the issues related to preventing genocide. He instanced the overwhelming support for US intervention by the Kurds in Northern Iraq. 


On the leadership issue he instanced his call to the Timorese students in Bali to go to Jakarta to disrupt the APEC talks in 1994 as a backdrop to his theme that "the role of leaders (involves) integrity, (to) mobilise the people with ideas". He dwelled on the need to avoid religious and ethnic disharmony when fighting for political principles. He used this argument to defend his position on Indonesia. He pointed out the lack of animosity between Timorese and Indonesians. This was a backdrop to his defence of the statement at the joint Downer press conference (Wed 10/8/04) NOT to pursue an international (War Crimes) Tribunal against the military/police leadership of that country who were recently exculpated by the Appellant Court of Indonesia from overseeing the murder of over 1,000 Timorese (and a Dutch and an Indonesian journalist) in the September 1999 period. 


In question time, Horta conceded that East Timor has restrained itself from criticism of Indonesian (atrocities) in Aceh and West Papua with an inference here to Indonesia's ability to destabilise their joint border. He argued that the Indonesian Government had initiated talks for "wide ranging autonomy" in Aceh and West Papua and "from the base of my experience in East Timor" he will "follow through dialogue with West Papua". 


In regards to 'Reconciliation in East Timor' Horta argued "We still have a long way to go in healing the wounds. The (Fretilin/Falintil) Resistance was not free from mistakes. It has the courage to face it's mistakes. Hence the importance of leaders in extending the hand of friendship. This is the only way to defeat the forces of fanaticism, extremism." (Sounding a bit like the next Kofi Annan? Keeping the focus away from Indonesian state terror in Aceh and West Papua? Blaming the victim rather than the perpetrator? After all, the Fretilin-UDT factional violence - largely in 1974-75 period - is so insignificant compared to the 200,000 deaths perpetrated by the Indonesian military from 1975-1999?)


He favoured East Timor taking a path to Reconciliation over past deaths during the Indonesian occupation. However he noted that the difference between East Timor and the South African model was that the guilty parties (on all sides)in South Africa could all come before a domestic tribunal and seek forgiveness and confess their sins/crimes because in that country it was an internal inquiry. He argued his prefered closure on the East Timor deaths (1975-99) involved an international panel of five prominent international jurists ("International Truth & Accountability Panel") who would investigate all the facts and then name names in their final report. He has submitted to the UN Secretary-General this proposal for consideration. (My comment ... Given the history of the Indonesian Generals at thumbing their nose at international opinion, "naming" them will hardly provide justice for the East Timorese. Nor will it act as a break on the killings in Aceh and West Papua). 


Horta fell back on the expedient argument that to target the Indonesian State in the post-Sept 11th period will face the added danger of being perceived as another Western attack on a Muslim nation and will be exploited domestically by the anti-democratic forces inside Indonesia so as to thwart the objectives of those seeking justice from the international community. (Is Howard about to use the same argument to ignore the release of islamic fundamentalist 'terrorists' responsible for the Bali Bombing by the Indonesian state?). Horta also referred to the historic debt of East Timor in 1999 to the Habibe Indonesian Government for not only allowing the Referendum but ultimately (under Wahid) inviting the UN forces into East Timor (Interfet) to restore order in East Timor. (Comment: Has Horta forgotten that the existance of Indonesian forces inside East Timor was always illegal in international law? Or am I seeing the issue through Australian eyes?).



The Oil/Maritime Boundary Issue?


Horta pointed out this has been an issue over the 2 years since East Timor independence, as it was under the UN administration period. He noted Australia was pursuing it's Continental Shelf argument over maritime boundaries while East Timor follow the "UN position" (i.e. Median Line under UNCLOS?). He noted that Indonesia today realise their 1972 border agreement with Australia was "a mistake". He said in his meeting with Alexander Downer (following on from his June 2004 meeting with Downer in Jakarta) they agreed "maybe we should put aside (the maritime boundary issue) while we find a framework for a fairer acceptance of resource allocation. How do we structure (these negoitiations?) we asked each other?".


Horta said his (own) choices were either to "push Australia into a corner" or seek "a way out for both sides". He said that now "a financial agreement will be found that will be fairer to both sides". He acknowledged the key role of Australia (in mobilising international opinion to support Interfet) in late 1999. He couched this comment in the context of the difficulty (usually) associated with mobilising the UN Security Council to take action against mass killings and genocidal situations. (Implying that the trade off for 'resources before borders' with Downer was also squaring off Timor's debt to Australia?)


In question time Horta was asked how will East Timor civil society react to his negotiations with Downer. Will they demand 100% of oil and gas resources?


Horta responded that his mandate was a limited one. (Jokingly he said the Timorese people could for all he knew claim the whole of Australia as inside it's boundary). His government had decided to put aside discussion of the maritime boundary (for 5 years? for 25 years? we don't know, he added as an aside). He argued that the Timorese Government recognised that "diplomacy involves compromise".


He denied that it was a strategic intervention to support the Howard Government in the context of a Federal election in Australia; pointing out that (one would think) East Timor had more friends on the Labor side of politics and Bob Brown from The Greens was probably their greatest friend (in Australian Parliament). He argued that the Downer-Horta discussion should be seen as not a political issue in the context of the federal elections as the discussions will go on after the elections. He argued Timor will deal with whoever the new government is on the basis of the agreed new framework for discussion (i.e. royalties before maritime boundary).

When asked whether Timor gas was being sold in the international market at too low a price, Horta did not answer directly. He replied there was "a pressing need for a huge injection of cash for people for people/roads/houses/water supplies/medical supplies." He argued "if Australia supplied 0.7% of GDP (UN suggested minimum for overseas aid budgets) in aid, then the Timorese people would feel more comfortable with Australia's stance (on oil?)". He went further arguing that East Timor does not yet have a private sector and lacks capacity building skills in public service infrastructure. He went on the describe some of the internal economic problems of East Timor, some of which were the legacy of the UN administration. (Comment: Was this as an implied excuse for Timor now prioritising the 'royalties before borders' agreement with Australia?). 


In my own question to Horta I questioned his timing in the Downer-Horta Agreement (10/8/04). Given the fact that thousands of Australians were mobilising over the issue, had propelled the ALP to make it an election issue - through the Latham statement and the Brereton visit to East Timor - to say nothing of the international media coverage that was severely damaging the Howard Government position over unfair maritime boundaries, I expressed flabergastion. I meant to question him over the contradictions (or reversal of policy) between his own actions, (albeit backed by the Alkitiri administration), over the former centrality & importance of sovereignty to the Timorese people and the settling of the maritime border issue, but time did not allow. 


Horta did not even give me the curtesy of a reply. After the meeting he explained had he done so it would have been a front page media story and would have disrupted the new found agreement with the Canberra government to move to a new settlement on resources by Christmas. He also said he expected the Australian activists to maintain the pressure during the talks over the forthcoming months (despite us being metaphorically kicked in the teeth?) as the talks would no doubt be difficult. 


Jefferson Lee .... AETA (NSW) and TSJC-Sydney. 13/8/04 (Black Friday)



Home phone: (02) 9519-4788 or  mobile (0425) 20-1638

Email: jefferson.lee@bigpond.com



About the Australia East Timor Association (AETA)

The Sydney Branch was formed in 1992. 

The Sydney Branch brings out a monthly email diary of coming events available to anyone upon request: jefferson.lee@bigpond.com
An edited version focusing on East Timor (& possibly Indonesia) events appears at: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/aeta.html

The Sydney Branch meets the 4th Wednesday of the month at:
6.30pm, Room 318, 3rd Level (behind Students Assoc Office), UTS Tower Bldg, Broadway, Sydney
Details: Stephen Langford
Phone: (02) 9331-5986

Sydney AETA executive email contacts:

AETA Secretary for membership and monthly meetings:
Stephen Langford: (02) 9331-5986
Postal address: c/- PO Box 751, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010

Special Projects & Timor Sea Campaign:
Jefferson Lee: (02) 9519-4788
Postal address: c/- PO Box 703, Leichhardt, 2040

Timor Assistance Coordinator:
Alix Mandelson: alixmandelson@bigpond.com

Treasurer:
Brendan Doyle: brendanfish@bigpond.com


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