BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor  home February news

“UNTAET’s position, acting on behalf of the East Timorese people, is that the royalties and the tax revenue from the area north of the mid-point should come to East Timor, and if there is not going to be a maritime delimitation, East Timor should have the same benefit as if there were a maritime delimitation. That, after all is what East Timor is entitled to under international law”. Peter Galbraith, member for political affairs of the East Timor transitional cabinet. October 10, 2000
See also: BD: TIMOR OIL - A collection of recent reports, position statements, petitions, articles and news

Timeline of the Timor oil sell-out

By Jon Land

Indonesia - East Timor Campaign Watch

February-May 2001 No.7

Published by ASIET

[ASIET established Indonesia - East Timor Campaign Watch in early 2000, and has published findings every 4 months since then. - BD]
 

August 17, 1975

Closure of the Timor Gap could be “much more readily negotiated with Indonesia by closing the present gap than with Portugal or an independent East Timor”. Cable by Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Richard Woolcott, supporting the idea that it would be in Australian business’ best interests if East Timor were to be annexed by Indonesia.
 

December 15, 1978

Australian foreign affairs minister, Andrew Peacock, announces that Australia would give de jure recognition of Indonesia’s sovereignty over East Timor in early 1979, when talks on the maritime boundary begin.
 

March 1984

“The Indonesian position is based squarely on the law existing at present. The Australian position is that we should just draw a line connecting the old lines. In effect it is saying ‘Negotiate in 1984 on the basis of the 1958 convention, which has already been revised.’ It is an untenable position”. Indonesian Foreign minister, Mochtar Kusumaatmadja.
 

February 9, 1991

The Timor Gap Treaty comes into effect with the inaugural meeting in Bali of the Ministerial Council established under the treaty. Also in early February, a letter from resistance leader Xanana Gusmao to Prime Minister Bob Hawke, passed to the Australian parliamentary delegation visiting East Timor, condemned the Treaty as “a total betrayal” by Australia of the East Timorese people.
 

February 22, 1991

Portugal initiates legal action in the International Court of Justice against the Treaty. The Portuguese Ambassador to Australia Jose Luiz Gomez states on February 25 that the ICJ action is tied to Australia’s recognition of Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor. It’s aim is to force Australia to recognise East Timor’s status as a non-self governing territory under Portuguese administration.
 

June 30, 1995

The ICJ declared it could not adjudicate in the dispute because the case related to the rights and obligations of a third state, Indonesia, which did not recognise the jurisdiction of the court. The ICJ did note however that “the territory of East Timor remains a non-self governing territory and its people has the right to self-determination”.

The case also highlighted a contradiction in the policy of the Paul Keating government on East Timor. During hearings at the Hague, government officials argue that East Timor is part of Indonesia and hence that the East Timorese have Indonesian nationality.
Yet in attempts to have East Timorese asylum seekers forced from Australia in 1995, the government claims they are entitled to Portuguese citizenship and should therefore seek refugee status in Portugal, not Australia.
 

December 11, 1991

One month after the massacre at Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, Australia signs an agreement with Indonesia to award Timor Gap production sharing contracts to oil exploration companies. Foreign minister Gareth Evans alleges that the killings were not a deliberate act of the Suharto dictatorship but simply “the product of aberrant behaviour by a subgroup within the country”.
 

March, 1997

Australia and Indonesia sign an agreement on the demarcation of respective exclusive economic zones in the Timor Gap, set along the median line (the southern boundary of Area A) between the two states. This agreement highlights the contradiction within the Howard government’s policy on the Timor Gap, when it argues that the seabed boundary (governing oil, gas and other mineral resources) should be established at a different location than the water column boundary (governing fisheries).
 

July 1998

The National Council of Timorese Resistance calls upon the Australian government and the oil companies operating in the TGT area to review past assumptions. “Under present conditions a review of the TGT in a spirit of fairness and justice will greatly enhance the political and economic stability of the Timor Sea region. This will enable oil companies to operate in a secure and predictable environment, for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
 

March 13, 1999

Foreign minister Evans lauds the Timor Gap Treaty and his role in its creation. “In the process of negotiating the treaty we put very much on the rails our relationship with Indonesia. I’m very proud of being able to stitch that relationship back together, but to do so in a way which in no way undermined our very fierce and very strong and continuing commitment to the human rights of the East Timorese”. As he speaks, pro-Jakarta militia gangs intensify their terror campaign throughout East Timor.
 

July 28, 1999

“The mining companies can continue to operate . We do not want to cause any uncertainty or any instability in their investments”. East Timorese leader Jose Ramos Horta at a public meeting in Brisbane.
 

November 10, 1999

Mari Alkatiri, East Timorese spokesperson on the Timor Gap, states: “It’s not a problem of oil and gas, it’s a problem of maritime borders. I think we have to redefine, renegotiate the border later on when East Timor becomes independent.” Alkatiri reaffirms the East Timorese opposition to the Treaty: “We still consider the Timor Gap Treaty an illegal treaty. This is a point of principle. We are not going to be a successor to an illegal treaty”.
 

February 28, 2000

UNTAET and the Australian government approve the first phase of the $US 1.4 billion Bayu-Undan project in Area A, a development headed by US-based company Phillips Petroleum.
 

July 11, 2000

A spokesperson for foreign minister Alexander Downer, states that Australia “understands the discussion or debate is about the share of revenue; it’s not delimitation of the seabed”.
 

October 9, 2000

The first round of negotiations on the future of the Timor Gap Treaty are held October 9-11. Foreign minister Downer signals that Australia’s aid to East Timor may be cut if East Timor gains a greater share of royalties.
 

October 10, 2000

“UNTAET’s position, acting on behalf of the East Timorese people, is that the royalties and the tax revenue from the area north of the mid-point should come to East Timor, and if there is not going to be a maritime delimitation, East Timor should have the same benefit as if there were a maritime delimitation. That, after all is what East Timor is entitled to under international law”. Peter Galbraith, member for political affairs of the East Timor transitional cabinet.
 

January 24, 2001

In an interview with Lusa news service, Mari Alkatiri states:”There are indications from the Australian side that it is prepared to move toward new equations in the sharing of the [oil] wealth. But the numbers have not yet been put on the table”. Alkatiri also told Lusa that it was still the positon of East Timor that the maritime boundary be redrawn.


Action in Solidarity with Indonesia and East Timor  Updated Mar 5
ASIET is a DSP-inspired Australian solidarity organisation which aims to educate and inform the Australian community about the continuing fight for democracy in Indonesia and the East Timorese people's struggle to rebuild their country. ASIET also supports the struggles for self-determination in Aceh and West Papua. ASIET aims to place maximum pressure on governments to adopt a pro-people foreign policy by organising activities including marches and protests, national petition campaigns, film showings, public meetings, etc.
ASIET established Indonesia - East Timor Campaign Watch in early 2000, and has published findings every 4 months since then.
Email: asiet@asiet.org.au  Homepage: http://www.asiet.org.au
East Timor info on the ASIET site is added daily.

See also:
BD: TIMOR OIL - A collection of recent reports, position statements, petitions, articles and news


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor  home February news
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