Subject: AN: Autonomy without strings, says UN envoy
Date: Tue, 08 Sep 1998 15:48:02 +0700
From: "Leonardo J. Rimba" <>

Antara -- Tuesday, September 8, 1998


Dili, E Timor - UN Secretary General's Special Envoy Francesc Vendrell said here Monday the proposed special autonomy status for East Timor still under discussion may be granted without any strings attached.

Speaking to reporters after a one-hour meeting with Governor Abilio Jose Osorio Soares and Chairman of the local Legislative Assembly Armindo Soares Mariano, he said the status that Jakarta is offering is purely an autonomy.

"The proposal does not mention whether the autonomy is a final decision or a transition. So, it is purely an autonomy," he said in Portuguese, translated into Indonesian by academician Basilio Dias Araujo.

Vendrell further said his current visit to the former Portuguese colony was aimed at informing East Timorese formal and informal leaders on the results of the Tripartite meeting last August.

He said he also intended to get inputs from East Timorese people about the autonomy which may help him draw up a draft on the concept of the autonomy for adjustment to the province's aspirations.

On the All Inclusive East Timorese Dialogue (AIETD) which is due to be held in mid-October, he said: "There will be no change in format or composition compared to the last dialogue." In the upcoming AIETD, the proposed special autonomy for East Timor would not be touched, he said, adding that each participant in the dialogue has a right to give inputs, including himself and Jamsheed Marker (another UN Secretary General's special envoy) for resolving the East Timor question.

Vendrell also said the meeting between Indonesian and Portuguese high ranking officials under the umbrella of United Nations (UN) would be held on October 5.

In response to the proposed autonomy, chairman of the local legislation assembly Armindo Soares Mariano said the special status would enable the East Timorese to accelerate the development of the province.

"What is being done by the United Nations is for the sake of the people of this province, so that everybody here needs to back it up," he said.

Meanwhile, a local academician, Domingos Maria dos Reis Policarpo said he noticed that many other countries do not agree if East Timor becomes an independent state.

"Entering the third millennium, none of these countries agree on the establisment of another poor country. I often go abroad (to have meetings). During informal talks, this subject always comes up," he said.

According to Policarpo, who claimed to be a petitioner for East Timor at many international fora, what the international community want for East Timor is a guarantee for everybody to have freedom of expression in their democratic life.

Thus, the international community said they did not want a new independent state if it would mean an extra burden to the world.

"This is the academicians' view (on East Timor). They want to see concrete things. Small things, like the location of foreign embassies and paying electricity bills, become the international community's serious consideration," he said.

In this connection, Policarpo said if Indonesia has granted a special autonomy to East Timor, it might be a good decision for the people of the troubled province.

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