Subject: UN: Marker briefing on East Timor
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:51:58 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

15 April 1999 Press Briefing



An agreement could be in place to proceed to consultations with East Timorese themselves on a proposal that would give them autonomy within Indonesia, following discussions on April 21, 22 and 23 at United Nations Headquarters, Jamsheed Marker, Personal Representative of the Secretary- General for East Timor, told correspondents at Headquarters briefing this afternoon. These consultations would determine whether East Timorese accept or reject the autonomy proposal.

On the afternoon of 21 April, senior officials would meet again to discuss the East Timor issue, he continued, and following that, on the mornings of the 22 and 23 April, the Secretary-General would meet with the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and Portugal. Indonesian Government amendments to the autonomy proposal discussed previously were expected to be presented and discussed by both the senior officials and the Foreign Ministers at those meetings.

He hoped that, following those discussions, there would be an agreement to proceed with the next phase -- the presentation of the proposal to the people of East Timor as part of a consultation process during which they would accept or reject it.

The United Nations had been very concerned about the recent violence in East Timor, he said. The Secretary-General had made very strong appeals to all sides and had spoken to Indonesian President Habibie on the telephone and sent him a letter. He had also met yesterday with the Prime Minister of Portugal in Brussels. The Secretary-General had been very actively involved in this process, and was waiting for action next week.

Asked what kind of consultations were being considered, Mr. Marker said that he would have to wait to see what amendments to the autonomy proposal the Indonesians wanted before arrangements could be discussed concerning the next step. Regarding the current climate, assurances had been received from all sides that they would exercise restraint.

In response to a suggestion that the East Timorese would reject the autonomy proposal, he stressed that he was not convinced of that. It was a package that must be presented to the East Timorese, and it was they who would decide.

Asked whether he would be presenting a methodology for those consultations to this round of meetings, he answered that he would not immediately be doing so. He would discuss methodology, but he did not think the United Nations could assume sole responsibility for determining the methodology. It would have to be determined in consultation with both sides. It was understood that the United Nations would conduct the consultations; an understanding he believed would not change at next week's meetings.

East Timor Press Briefing - 2 - 15 April 1999

Asked whether he had received assurances from pro-Indonesia commander Mr. Tavares, given Mr. Marker's response yesterday to pro-independence leader Xanana Gusmao's statement calling for dialogue and negotiation, he said he had not been in contact with Mr. Tavares and did not believe there was any necessity for such contact. However, he had received assurances from the Government of Indonesia that it was doing what it could to restore order and calm.

Asked whether he believed the process could move forward given the current violent climate, he said he intended it to go forward. There were United Nations people in East Timor and he would shortly be going there himself. The United Nations would make its own assessment, but the intention was clearly to proceed. He had no intention of recommending to the Secretary- General that the United Nations back off.

Mr. Marker said there was no current agreement by both sides that the United Nations would send in unarmed monitors in May, in response to a correspondent's request for confirmation of such an agreement. The only understanding was that, once agreement had reached with both the Indonesian and Portuguese governments, the United Nations would start its work in East Timor.

Asked if he would like such a presence, he said there would have to be a United Nations presence as soon as possible, and that it was intended that there would be one.

He explained, in response to another question, that there was no refugee situation in East Timor. According to reports he had received, when incidents occurred in a particular area or village, the villagers disappeared but they subsequently returned. There had been incidents where he had called for an enquiry.

Responding to a question about timing, he said it was too early to fix dates, although they would have to be fixed eventually and he was working to that end. According to the previous understanding, the process was to be completed sometime before the new Indonesian Assembly met. He believed it was to meet in October. However, he stressed, any dates mentioned thus far were just "ballpark" figures.

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