UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 28 SEPTEMBER 2002
CNN INTERNATIONAL - SHOW: DIPLOMATIC LICENSE 04:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
RICHARD ROTH: How does a country get a seat on the prestigious Security Council? You must win the right in the other famous room you see there, the General Assembly Hall. All of the countries vote. This year no contested races, so there are a lot of handshakes and hugs for the new members with a little more interest than usual now because if significant votes occur on Iraq after January 1, these new members will be part of the 15-nation Security Council. That means Germany, an opponent so far of the use of any U.S. military force against Baghdad. However, Berlin has no veto power.
Taking one step back in the diplomatic chain, how do you get into the General Assembly to be able to vote on Security Council membership and hundreds of other agenda items? First, you have to be voted in as a member in full standing of the United Nations and after Friday's action, the U.N. now has 191 members. Flagpole row at the United Nations is busier than a rush-hour train station. Countries are joining the U.N. in bunches.
Two weeks ago Switzerland; on Friday it was the turn of the Southeast Asian nation of East Timor represented by its President Xanana Gusmao. The difference, it's only been an independent country for four months. The traditional ceremony, observed by Kofi Annan's wife Nan and the General Assembly family of nations, which approved East Timor Friday morning for membership.
Joining me now, the foreign minister of the newly minted General Assembly member, José Ramos-Horta, and from the former colonial power in East Timor, José Durão Barroso, Prime Minister of the nation of Portugal. Welcome to you both.
Mr. Ramos-Horta, you've been a guest on our program seven years ago when it looked like, I'm not sure what the future for East Timor would be. How do you feel now that the East Timorese nation is inside the General Assembly, the United Nations when you watched the flag go up?
JOSÉ RAMOS-HORTA, EAST TIMORESE FOREIGN MINISTER: We are profoundly grateful for this triumph -- triumph of ideas, of convictions, and grateful to those who helped us achieving our dream. Portugal is one of them. It was in the forefront of helping us, and many other countries over the years, human rights groups, the Solidarity Movement. So as we join the U.N. today, I cannot but bow in gratitude to those who made it possible besides, obviously, the determination, the sacrifice of our own people.
ROTH: Well, let me ask the prime minister there. What happens now to East Timor? Portugal had 450 years of colonial heritage there. What's East Timor's future now and what is Portugal's role?
JOSÉ DURÃO BARROSO, PORTUGUESE PRIME MINISTER: Yes, going on supporting East Timor. We are very happy with the independence and now the membership of the United Nations. I was very proud to introduce the resolution to the General Assembly and we have done it preparing resolution with Indonesia and Australia with many co-sponsors. But now it's important
that international attention to East Timor does not become international indifference because a country needs to be supported in the first years after independence, and I think that Timor -Leste, that's the official name, should count with international solidarity.
ROTH: Mr. Ramos Horta, there wasn't much fan fare back home about the entry into the U.N., the big hoopla was four months ago. People are looking to the future. Make us known of the stark figures there regarding unemployment and the level of poverty in East Timor and how do you try to go about curing this in the years ahead?
HORTA: First we have the guarantees, the pledges from the donor community for the next three years, at least. We have enough for developing assistance and enough bodily support, so we cannot complain. But we need a foreign direct investment in order to -- for the economy to really take off. We have some measure resources, such oil and gas. In two to three years we have the first revenues from oil and gas coming. We have tremendous potential in tourism and fisheries, but one of the greatest challenges is to educate our people, to have a pool of trained people, and for that we are investing almost to more than 30 percent of our annual
budget on education.
ROTH: The situations are totally different, but you could say that the U.N. has done nation building there. What's your advice for Afghanistan and maybe Iraq in the future depending on developments there when the international community in effect takes over administration for the years ahead? What's your advice?
HORTA: Well, the success of East Timor case, it has been labeled as a successful story for the U.N., is in part due to the people themselves on the ground. They have to be united. They have to abandon violence. There cannot be factionalism. There has to be a strong leadership because if the people on the ground do not understand each other, do not walk halfway to meet and reconcile, there is no amount of peacekeeping force that can prevent violence, and that will be my first advice. And the second lesson is that there was a strong leadership, a coalition of willing of many parties all over the world working together under a very strong leadership of the secretary-general and under a strong mandate Chapter Seven of the U.N.
ROTH: All right, very briefly, from both guests, why is Portuguese the official language of East Timor when only 5 percent at best speak the language there? Complicated issue, I need an answer in a few seconds. First, Ramos Horta, then the prime minister.
HORTA: Well, the Portuguese is part of our historical identity. The whole notion, concept of East Timor would not exist without Portuguese colonial history and the presence in East Timor. We don't have a strong national language. We have one, Tetun, which is not original language. So we have two official languages, Portuguese and Tetun, our native language.
ROTH: All right, Mr. Prime Minister, the final word from you on the language or anything else on East Timor's future.
BARROSO: We respect the decision taken by the East Timorese authorities. We have no new colonial illusion or pretension. We respect and we think it's important for their identity to keep some of their heritage, but we are ready to work with them and in fact, we are also helping in the cooperation, namely in education and we think that the Portuguese can be also a link of East Timor to Portugal and to the international community.
ROTH: All right, linked together in the past, now linked together perhaps in the future. Prime Minister of Portugal there on the right, Jose Durao Barroso and on the left, Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jose Ramos Horta, Foreign Minister of East Timor, a guest in the past on DIPLOMATIC LICENSE and always welcomed back in the future.
Thank you both gentlemen.
HORTA: Thank you.
BARROSO: Thank you.