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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
By
H.E. MR. LAURO L. BAJA, JR.
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Public Meeting of the Security Council on East Timor
Security Council Chamber, 20 February 2004

Thank you Mr. President.

We thank Undersecretary General Jean-Marie Guehenno for his comprehensive and positive briefing on East Timor. We also welcome to our meeting H.E. Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta.

Mr. President,

At this stage, we can justifiably consider East Timor as a model of UN involvement, which is close to being a success. The odyssey started with UNAMET—the UN Mission in East Timor in May 1999, followed by the Security Council-authorized INTERFET—the International Force in East Timor in September 1999, and then UNTAET—the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor in February 2000 and UNMISET—the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor in May 2002.

Mr. President,

Notwithstanding the gains made by East Timor and UNMISET, there are still residual concerns that would necessitate continued UN presence in East Timor and thus help build a stable and sustainable democracy.

Foremost is the maintenance of peace and security. We believe that an immediate pullout of the international military and police presence there would create a security vacuum in the country.

On the other hand, the continued UN security presence will be able to deal with law enforcement activities and take care of possible disturbances from remnants of the anti-independence militia and other criminal elements. This security presence will also be able to assist in the continued development of the East Timor national police and provide protection to UN military liaison officers. It will also be able to assist in the capacity building of institutions to ensure the stability and functioning of government in the civil administration.

East Timor has requested continued military presence; DPKO has recommended such extension for another year, in a reduced size and with a modified mandate. We urge the Security Council to listen to East Timor and to support the professional advice and recommendations of DPKO in paragraph 64 of its report.

Mr. President,

East Timor boasts of a committed team of leaders who are not only politically astute and mature but who also understand the challenges confronting their newly independent country and are aware of the responsibilities in ensuring its sustainable development. East Timor’s inner strength also comes from the resolution of its people to survive.

Nevertheless, efforts to create means for sustainable development and secure economic growth must be provided. The country is one of the least endowed on earth. Its people consists of a population heterogeneous in language and culture. The country does not have major industries; unemployment is high; and infrastructure is poorly developed.

Economic salvation lies on the expected revenues from oil and natural gas in the Timor Sea but as the arrival of revenues from this source has been delayed, the assistance of UN agencies, bilateral donors, and the Asian Development Bank must be maintained. There is an urgent need to concentrate in human resource development particularly in imposing basic education and in imbibing entrepreneurial skills among the East Timorese.

Key areas for assistance include management of public finance and the justice system. The judiciary, owing to the incomplete legal and procedural framework in which they operate, is not yet fully capable of implementing the rule of law in a manner consistent with international human right standards.

Mr. President,

East Timor’s political and economic growth stems from a global consensus to assist the country. Japan, Australia, Asean countries and the European Union are big contributors to creating a viable nation. Indonesia is a key neighbor and my delegation notes the growing progress in the relations between Indonesia and East Timor.

At the 10th Ministerial Meeting of the Asean Regional Forum on 18 June 2003, the Ministers issued a paragraph on East Timor. “The Ministers congratulated the Government of Timor-Leste on its progress since independence. In particular, the Ministers noted the positive relationship developing between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. They noted that a number of ARF participants continued to make major contributions to the post-independence, multilateral effort in Timor-Leste. The Ministers stressed that, as part of the Asia- Pacific, Timor-Leste’s future was reliant on the development of economic, political and security ties with its neighbors.”

We also note that a joint border commission has been established between the two countries to take care of border and refugee concerns, among others. A joint bilateral commission has also been created to monitor and address other issues of common concern. There have also been exchanges of high level visits between the two countries. They have just recently concluded negotiations on an air service agreement that is now ready for signing by their respective governments.

Mr. President, in baseball, one has to touch the home plate to score a run, and win. East Timor is already on third base and in the final inning. It needs to score a run to win. We urge the Security Council to help East Timor win by extending UNMISET for another year as recommended by the Secretary General.

Then, when the success story of East Timor is told, it will be a tale of how the UN—through the Security Council, and UNMISET—and the international community helped East Timor stand on its feet, make the decisive run and win against all odds.

Thank you Mr. President.




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