Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 8 February 2005

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Tuesday, 8 February 2005

Australia hopeful on Timor Sea deal

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said he was cautiously positive about reaching a deal with Timor-Leste on how to share lucrative energy reserves beneath the Timor Sea. Australia and Timor-Leste have so far failed to reach agreement on how to divide the estimated $A41 billion worth of oil and gas deposits lying beneath the sea between the two countries. Talks broke down last year when Timor-Leste accused Australia of making an ultimatum on the boundary terms.

“We are moving forward towards constructive discussions with the Timorese in March when our next meeting is scheduled to take place,” said Mr Downer. “From my contacts with the Timorese….I am cautiously positive about how those talks will go forward. These are difficult issues, we just take them forward piece by piece,” he added.

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, raised the issue with Mr Downer during a bilateral meeting at the request of Timor-Leste’s Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta. Mr Fischer said he was confident the issue would be resolved amicably by the two nations.

The meeting between Australia and Timor-Leste is scheduled to take place from 15-17 March.

Meanwhile, Timor-Leste’s Secretary of State for Tourism, Environment and Investment, Jose Teixeira, said Dili is not confident that Woodside Petroleum’s stalled US$5 billion Sunrise liquefied natural gas project can be revived by any breakthrough on the protracted border dispute. “I think the company has made it pretty clear. They’re not investing any more in it,” said Teixeira. Woodside put the brakes on its Sunrise project, having last year warned Canberra and Dili that it needed fiscal certainty on the project by the end of 2004. It also recently restated it won’t be spending any more money to advance Sunrise and has reassigned staff to other project. (AAP, Dow Jones)

Foreign Ministers meet in Bali on Truth Commission

The Foreign Ministers of Timor-Leste and Indonesia are meeting in Bali today to begin polishing the creation of a bilateral Truth and Friendship Commission to deal with Indonesian atrocities committed in 1999. “Personally, I don’t think we should precipitate and force a rapid solution over the terms of reference of the commission,” said Timorese Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta. Once agreement was reached on the terms of reference for the functioning of the commission, he said consultations would be held with “other interested parties”, namely civil society groups and international experts on truth commissions and human rights. The Foreign Minister did stress that national consensus was needed on this issue. (Lusa)

Refugees Demonstrate in Atambua

The murder of a woman and two men in Kowa, Balibo sub-district in late January, was the subject of a demonstration yesterday by thousands of Timorese refugees in Atambua, Indonesia. The refugees demonstrated outside the Parliament in Belu, demanding that the bodies of three people be immediately returned to Atambua. Meanwhile, the three suspects to the murder appeared in the Dili District Court yesterday. (STL)

Government and NGO’s Discuss Hunger Problem

The government and a number of local and international non-governmental organizations as well as United Nations humanitarian agencies yesterday held a meeting to discuss the issue of starvation in parts of the country.

Following the meeting, the Director of Civil Protection, David Dias Ximenes, said that although this year’s rainfall has not been as good as expected, the level of starvation that has been recently reported is not quite correct. He said that he has travelled around to various places and seen that corn and other food crops are growing reasonably well, although not as well as could be hoped.

However, based on the report of the District Administrators, approximately 10,000 people in Covalima District are starving. Ximenes said that the central government must do its own assessment before giving aid in order to ascertain what the needs of the population really are. (STL)

Timor-Leste Ambassador Not Responsible for Illegal Workers

Timor-Leste’s Ambassador to Australia, Jorge Teme, said that he will not take responsibility if some people try to send Timorese workers to Australia illegally. Speaking to journalists after meeting with the Prime Minister at the Government Palace in Dili, he said if caught, he would personally hand them over to the Australian government to deal with them according to the law. (STL)

Timor-Leste Needs Overseas Promotion

The Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has asked all of Timor-Leste’s Ambassadors to promote Timor-Leste in the country where they are posted. According to the Prime Minister, such promotion is important in order to attract investors to Timor-Leste. (STL)

Illegal Boats Entered Through the Southern Coast

Speaking at the plenary session on Monday, Member of National Parliament’s Commission B in charge of Foreign and Security Affairs, João Gonçalves, informed that illegal boats appeared on the southern coast of Timor-Leste (Covalima district), adding that the reason for their presence is yet unknown. “If the boats come to our water with no clear objective, we have the rights to stop them and inquire about their intention,” Gonçalves said. “If we allow this to happen and not question, there’s a chance our sea resources will be all stolen,” Gonçalves added. (Timor Post)

Bishop Belo Will Set Up Nobel Museum

The former Bishop of Dili Diocese, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, has announced he would soon set up a Nobel museum in Baucau city. The museum, he said, will be the site to keep medals, certificates and other items, which he received from Nobel Peace Committee in Oslo in 1996. The museum will also include a library. (Timor Post)

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