UN Security Council: EU Statement on Timor-Leste

Security Council
Debate on Timor-Leste

Stement on behalf of the European Union

H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations

New York, 15 August 2006

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Mr. President,

I have the honous to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

*) Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Two months ago when we last had a public meeting on Timor-Leste the situation in the country seemed critical. Sporadic violence, arson, looting and gang clashes continued to take place and the direction of events still seemed unclear. Since then the overall security situation has been stabilized and the emergency phase has passed. The EU commends the countries which replied positively when they were asked for help - the quick reaction of Australia, Portugal, Malaysia and New Zealand has been of immense importance.

Politically very significant steps forward have been taken when Dr José Ramos-Horta was appointed as Prime Minister on 10 July 2006 and when the new government was formed soon after that. The EU welcomes this political progress and wishes to congratulate Prime Minister Ramos-Horta and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mr Jose Luis Guterres for their challenging assignments. The EU wants to assure you of continuous European support to Timor-Leste and to the new government.

It is necessary to emphasize, however, that it would be erroneous to believe that the situation in Timor-Leste is now stable and in order. The tension is still there and humanitarian needs of a considerable part of the people are still clearly unmet. Over 150,000 people are still internally displaced. Many refuse to return to their homes. Numerous weapons remain unaccounted for and are presumed to be under the control of both individuals and organized groups. This climate of fear is a clear sign of the prevailing fragility of the situation and of the need to address the underlying factors of this crisis, which is far from resolved. The events of the past months will have to be analysed with seriousness and honesty. The real problems under the surface will have to be addressed in order to achieve national reconciliation. The EU is pleased to note that this seems to be exactly what the new Prime Minister intends to do. The Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste, as requested by Dr Ramos-Horta and as announced by the UN Secretary General, will have a significant role in this work. The Commission is expected to report its findings by early October 2006. The EU also underlines that the demand for justice and accountability for the serious crimes committed in 1999 remains a fundamental issue in the lives of many Timorese. The EU therefore welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on justice and reconciliation in Timor-Leste, and its recommendations aiming at the completion of investigations into outstanding serious crimes cases and the need for reconciliation and community healing. The presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007 naturally underline the importance of political and national reconciliation.

The pressing goal of the international community is to support Timor-Leste in consolidating public order and pursuing reconciliation between all stakeholders and all levels of the society. It is obvious that the UN will have a most central role in the process. Consequently, it is evident that a strengthened and long-term UN engagement will be needed while ensuring Timorese ownership and sustainability of UN efforts. The views of the Timorese government – clearly expressed in the letter of Prime Minister Ramos-Horta addressed to the President of the Security Council, on 4 August 2006 - and the assessment presented in the report of the Secretary-General on Timor-Leste pursuant to Security Council resolution 1690 (2006) have to be among the guiding factors when deciding upon the size and form of the future UN mission after the mandate of UNOTIL expires in a few days.

The UN should commit itself to giving substantial support in various sectors including the rule of law, human rights, gender, institutional capacity building, conflict resolution and a comprehensive reform of the security sector. It is essential that the core functions of the new multidimensional and integrated UN mission will be identified carefully and the mandate of the mission will be decided in a manner that avoids any unnecessary overlap with present UN agencies, funds, programmes and other development partners which are already making a very valuable contribution to the development of Timor-Leste. Efficient coordination and clear responsibilities and division of labour are preconditions for success.

The EU and its member states have for years been major development partners for Timor-Leste and the union continues to pay close attention to the situation in the country. The special envoy of the EU Commission to Timor-Leste Mr Miguel Amado has been to Dili quite recently assessing the current situation and considering ways to strengthen EC cooperation with Timor-Leste, including the establishment of a Commission Delegation in Dili. The EU is committed to continue supporting Timor-Leste and is confident that in these times of difficulty the UN will answer to Timor-Leste´s call for help in an adequate manner.  

Thank you, Mr. President