Subject: Timor achieves UN dream

Also: East Timorese president addresses UN, supports Palestinians, Western Saharans

Timor achieves UN dream

September 28, 2002 Herald Sun

DILI: East Timor's entry into the United Nations today marks the fulfilment of a dream and the end of a struggle, local politicians said.

East Timor's president, Xanana Gusmao, is to address the UN General Assembly after the formal vote is taken to admit its latest member. Mr Gusmao's chief of staff, Agio Pereira, said it would be a proud moment for the fledgling nation.

"For us, it's a big step to show how far we have come from our struggle for liberation and independence," he said.

"To be able to enjoy the rights and have the duties as an official member of the United Nations is quite an achievement as a nation," Mr Pereira said.

The former Pacific territory became independent four months ago after centuries of Portuguese colonisation and 24 years of Indonesian occupation.

East Timorese president addresses UN, supports Palestinians, Western Saharans

BBC Worldwide Monitoring 
September 27, 2002 
source: RDP Antena 1 radio, Lisbon, in Portuguese 1500 gmt 27 Sep 02

East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao on 27 September marked his country's admission as the UN's 191st member with a defence of the right to independence of both the Palestinians and the people of the Western Sahara.

"East Timor cannot but express its profound concern at the rising level of violence in the Middle East," he told the UN General Assembly in a speech relayed live by Portuguese radio. "East Timor does not play blame-apportioning or finger-pointing games. Instead we would rather believe that there is, that there can be a solution to a conflict that has already shed so much blood and cost so many lives."

"The Palestinian people," he added, "have the right to free self-determination, independence, peace and dignity. It seems to us neither moral nor ethical that this extraordinary people should continue to be denied their right to freedom, peace and dignity."

"The Democratic Republic of East Timor declares itself ready to recognize the Palestinian state and to establish diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level with the Palestinian people's legitimate authority."

On the Western Sahara President Gusmao said:

"While the case of East Timor is regarded as a UN success, the case of the Western Sahara continues to be put in abeyance by a succession of obstacles. At this moment of assertion of our freedom and independence, we also wish to call for the resumed implementation of the UN plan for a referendum on the Western Sahara's self-determination."

"Only a just, free and democratic vote like the one held in East Timor can bring to this unjust situation to an end."

The East Timorese leader condemned religious and cultural intolerance and pledged that his country would never be a haven for terrorists.

"We add our own to the world's concern at the intolerance that exists between cultures and religions," President Xanana Gusmao told the UN General Assembly, "at the systematic recourse to violence which further fosters misunderstanding and deepens hatred, thus widening the gap and making dialogue even more problematic."

"We add our own to the world's determination to fight terrorism. Despite thehuge demands of our process and our country's level of underdevelopment, we shall not slacken in our vigilance and resolve to uproot any forms of extremism or radicalism likely to favour or to create conditions for acts of terrorism against innocent people.

"East Timor will never be a haven for people bent on terrorizing innocent civilians, be in the name of a religion, ideology or any other pretext."

President Gusmao said that the establishment of a world peace week every September would be a fitting way of marking East Timor's entry into the United Nations.

"I would like to propose the establishment of a World Peace Week, to be marked from 21 to 27 September, which would also mark our entry into the UN," hesaid. "For one week every year there would be debates, conferences and seminars on the subject of peace throughout the world. This would stop peace being just a theoretical concept, would bring up topics for reflection as relevant and pertinent as poverty, democracy, human rights and justice, and would make everyone realize that true peace can only come from the peace in the heart of every citizen."

President Gusmao thanked the international community for supporting his country's struggle for independence, and paid tribute to the East Timorese themselves.

"Our people have been central to our success," he told the UN General Assembly. "By rejecting the path of violence even in the face of the provocations to which they were subjected, by exercising their rights with a democratic and civic spirit even at the risk of their own lives, by looking to the future with hope in the certainty of freedom, they have proved to the world that they justly deserve the respect we all owe them, and have thus earned the credibility and admiration that they enjoy amongst all of you."

"It is to the people of East Timor that we owe the success to which you all committed yourselves. Thank you very much," the East Timorese president concluded.


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