13 JUNE 2006
BY HE Mr. JO√O SALGUEIRO, AMBASSADOR AND PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL TO THE UNITED NATIONS, TO THE UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL - "SITUATION IN TIMOR-LESTE"
Firstly, I would like to thank Mr. Ian Martin for his comprehensive briefing on the situation in Timor-Leste. Mr. Ian Martin is an old friend of Timor-Leste, and itís good to see him once again.
I also take this opportunity to commend SRSG Sukehiro Hasegawa and his staff for their work and the sacrifices they have endured throughout this difficult period. I assure you of our willingness to continue to cooperate closely with the UN on the ground and support UNOTIL and UN agencies in Timor-Leste, within our capacities.
Portugal concurs with the statement which the Representative of Austria is about to make on behalf of the European Union.
In my national capacity, I will say the following.
When I addressed the Security Council in its public meeting of May 5th, I underlined that Timor-Leste had been an important responsibility and a very large investment by the international community and the United Nations. I also said that we should do everything in our power to secure this investment and strengthen the fragile peace and democracy in Timor-Leste.
In the light of recent events and as stated by the Secretary-General, ďwe need to carefully assess the lessons of the current unrest to see whether we have withdrawn the UN peacekeeping forces too soonĒ.
Like Mr. Ian Martin we also think that the Timorese need to be assured that the UN will be with them, in the present and in the future.
The Portuguese Gendarmerie Force (total of 120) arrived in Dili on Saturday 3 June. In accordance with the MoU signed between the Governments of Portugal and Timor-Leste on
25 May 2006, this paramilitary police force is to operate in Dili and its surroundings, under the authority of President Xanana Gusm„o and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and with Portuguese operational command. It will also provide, in the future, assistance and training to the Unit of Rapid Intervention of the PNTL.
In an attempt to improve the cooperation and coordination between forces on the ground, an interim arrangement was agreed, regarding operations by the Portuguese Gendarmerie force (GNR) and interaction with the other international forces.
The international forces were deployed to assist a sovereign country, on the basis of bilateral arrangements and with the support of the Security Council. However, the current turmoil clearly shows the need for a renewed longstanding involvement of the United Nations in Timor-Leste.
In defining the future mandate of the UN presence in Timor-leste, we should first and foremost listen to the views of the Timorese as we just now did. We should respect the Timorese ownership, since the Timor-Leste of today is not the Timor-Leste of 1999. Since
20 May 2002, Timor-Leste is an independent, sovereign country. As mentioned by the Secretary-General in his last reports, Timor-Leste has made impressive progress in many areas of governance and institution building, with the support of UNOTIL and bilateral and multilateral partners. Timor-Leste needs our help. Timor-Leste is not a failed state.
We are dealing with a deep political crisis which is having very serious security and humanitarian repercussions. This crisis is far from over.
Also, thousand of weapons are missing and could serve for the purpose further actions of violent destabilization.
Reconciliation will be a long and difficult process. But it is a first much needed step for the Timorese society to take. Political solutions can then be searched and hopefully found by the Timorese themselves.
The Timorese should remain the masters of the choices regarding the governance of their own country. The support of
to Timor-Leste will continue to be guided by this fundamental principle. There is a clear need for continued multilateral and bilateral assistance and support but, as in any other sovereign and independent state, in the end it will be up to the Timorese to decide, in accordance with their constitutional and democratic system, on issues like justice, the nature and the role of the armed forces and the police, economic governance and administration, etc. Portugal
Timor-Leste is a child of the United Nations. So, it needs the universality and impartiality of the United Nations, which must once again take a leading role. In our view, this new mission should be able to facilitate political dialogue and reconciliation, to restore and maintain security, and to ensure that the 2007 elections will be peaceful, free and fair. Thatís what the Timorese expect from us and therefore that should be our mission, as soon as possible.
In this regard, I can assure you that
stands ready to contribute with forces to serve under the United Nations command and control. Portugal
Justice is a key element for long-lasting political reconciliation. It is important to establish the truth regarding recent violence, namey the one that occurred on 28 April and 25 May. We welcome the request for a Special Inquiry Commission, as outlined in the letter by Foreign Minister Ramos Horta to the Secretary-General of
9 June 2006, and especially the fact that all relevant actors consider this a necessary step to reaching a settlement and uphold the rule of law.
We are also concerned by the recent attacks and the looting of the Ministry of Justice, the General Prosecutorís Offices and the records of the Serious Crimes Unit, particularly those regarding the crimes of 1999. Itís reassuring to know that the UN has back-up copies of these records. These sad events underline the need to ensure that all those responsible for the serious crimes committed in Timor-Leste are held accountable, so as to respond to the legitimate desire for justice of all those affected by the violence. We therefore continue to look forward to the report of the Secretary-General outlining a legally sound and feasible approach to the question of accountability in Timor-Leste.
Portugal recalls the responsibility of the international community and of the Security Council in relation to Timor-Leste.
will remain committed to the consolidation of peace, democracy and full political independence of Timor-Leste. Portugal
I thank you Mr. President.