Subject: IO: Indonesian, UNTAET officials discuss Timor borderline issue

Indonesian, UNTAET officials discuss Timor borderline issue Indonesian Observer (1/31/01)

DENPASAR (IO) — Indonesia and East Timor could be at war if they fail to reach a permanent agreement on their international borderline, an official said yesterday.

Chief of the Udayana Regional Military Command, Major General Williem Da Costa, said the boundary must be agreed upon by both sides before UN administrators can leave East Timor.

He was speaking at a meeting in Denpasar, Bali, between the government and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

“Imagine if the borderline remains unclear. It could trigger a war between Indonesia and East Timor, once they [UN forces] are withdrawn from East Timor,” he said.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Director General for Political Affairs, Hasan Wirayuda, who led the Indonesian delegation at the meeting, proposed that the borderline should be the one that was drawn up in an agreement between the Dutch and Portuguese in 1815.

Virtually the same borderline was also used by the Indonesian government to mark the boundary between the provinces of East Nusa Tenggara and East Timor.

Wirayuda’s proposal was endorsed by UNTAET. The problem is that the northern part of border does not follow the old map. Certain border areas that were inside West Timor on the old chart, are now in East Timor.

“The borderline is very clear on the map, but the real condition is totally different,” said Da Costa.

He said the government and UNTAET will try to establish a definitive northern borderline. Initial discussions will not involve the National Council for East Timorese Resistance (CNRT), he added. “It will take time.”

Da Costa said the meeting had also discussed the construction of an entry gate and security posts, as well as activities that would be allowed or forbidden at the border.


The government urged the UN to lift the emergency status it has imposed on West Timor to speed up the repatriation of refugees to East Timor.

“The UN does not respect the Indonesian government’s efforts to handle the refugee problems, especially after the killing of three workers of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in September last year,” said Wirayuda.

The emergency status imposed on Atambua, West Timor, has prevented the UN from helping to repatriate the refugees, he said.

Indonesia recently repatriated about 5,000 refugees, and about 100,000 remain in West Timor.

“The demand [to lift the emergency status] is based on the situation in the field. Even [East Timorese leader Jose] Ramos-Horta said the situation in Atambua is now under control,” said Wirayuda.

UNTAET was represented at yesterday’s meeting by its foreign affairs director Peter Gelbright [Galbraith].

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