Subject: Ramos-Horta in Maputo
Timorese Foreign Minister in Mozambique
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
April 13, 2004
Jose Ramos-Horta, Foreign Minister of East Timor, arrived in Maputo on Monday for a three day visit to Mozambique, during which he will inaugurate the first Timorese embassy in Africa.
Relations between East Timor and Mozambique go back to 1975.
When the Timorese independence movement, Fretilin, proclaimed the Democratic Republic of East Timor in November 1975, Mozambique was the first country in the world to recognise it.
Within days Timorese independence was drowned in blood as the Indonesian army invaded, with the tacit backing of the United States, and before the indifference of most other major powers.
Throughout the dark days of Indonesian occupation, Mozambique was one of the few countries that continually raised the Timorese issue at international fora, and provided a temporary home for Timorese exiles (including the man who is now Timorese prime minister, Mari Alkatiri).
Timorese independence was regained in May 2002. In the run- up to independence, Mozambique provided personnel for the United Nations force there, and has also provided cadres to help organise the Timorese public administration.
Shortly after his arrival, Ramos-Horta described relations between East Timor and Mozambique as "special, unique". East Timor had chosen Maputo as the site for its first embassy in Africa, he added, because of the weight of Mozambique "in the international community, in the African Union (currently chaired by Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano), in the Non-Aligned Movement, and in the United Nations".
Temporarily the embassy will be headed by Marina Alkatiri, wife of the Timorese Prime Minister, who has lived in Mozambique for two decades. She will be charge d'affaires for six months, while Timorese President Xanana Gusmao consults with other Timorese leaders on the name of the first ambassador. Ramos-Horta said that East Timor's shortage of skilled personnel had forced it to appoint Alkatiri as temporary head of mission. Ramos-Horta confirmed that Gusmao will visit Mozambique in June. He will attend the summit of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries, and will also take the opportunity to discuss bilateral issues with Mozambican leaders.
Giving a lecture later in the day on the construction of the Timorese state and regional integration, Ramos-Horta accused Australia of dragging its feet in the negotiations to define the maritime border between the two countries. These negotiations are crucial for East Timor's access to the oil and gas of the Timor Sea.
"The longer the negotiations last, the better it is for Australia", said Ramos-Horta. "Perhaps when the gas and oil run out, then Australia will want to negotiate".
A fresh round of negotiations is scheduled for 19 April in the Timorese capital, Dili. The Timorese government proposed monthly meetings - but Australia has refused to meet more than once every six months. "Had Australia accepted the median line (for the maritime boundary, as defined in international law), then today East Timor would be a country like Kuwait", said Ramos-Horta. "East Timor's strength in this question lies in international law. We haven't invented anything. and we're going to see whether Australia is a democratic country, and whether or not it accepts international law".
Ramos-Horta also made ironic reference to the annual report from the US State Department on human rights. This year the report criticises the performance of the Timorese police (which has been in existence for less than two years).
Ramos-Horta did not deny that there are problems in his country's police force, but he noted that the report "which speaks of 100 or more countries is missing a chapter - one on the United States".
To laughter from his audience, which included students from the Mozambican police academy, he added "I've already told my friends in Washington that when my ministry has time we will write the chapter on the United States, and we will mention the police in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the immigration officers for who it is enough for you to have a dark skin to become a suspect". The annual human rights report is a requirement that the US Congress has made of the State Department. The reports are shoddy, and tell their readers more about the ideological prejudices of US diplomats than about the countries under review.
They also reveal a surprising level of ignorance. Thus the chapter on Mozambique in this year's report mentions DANIDA, describing it as "a Danish NGO". But, far from being non- governmental, DANIDA is in fact the official foreign aid agency of the Danish government.
East Timor Opens Embassy in Maputo
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
April 14, 2004
East Timor on Tuesday officially inaugurated its Embassy in Maputo, the first Timorese diplomatic mission in Africa since the country gained its independence in 2002.
Addressing the ceremony, Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta expressed his appreciation of the support given by the Mozambican government and people for the Timorese cause over the decades, and said "we will continue needing your support to consolidate peace, human empowerment and development".
Ramos Horta said that his country is in debt to Mozambique, because of Mozambique's role in the international diplomatic campaign for Timorese freedom and independence, following the Indonesian invasion of December 1975.
In the late 1970s, when the United States gave tacit backing to the Indonesian occupation, Mozambique and Angola were virtually alone in raising the Timorese cause in international fora.
During the Tuesday ceremony, Horta also introduced Marina Alkatiri to the attending diplomats. Alkatiri is to act as Charge d'affaires until the appointment of an Ambassador, within the next six months.
Alkatiri and her husband, Mari, who is now the Prime Minister of East Timor, were out of the country when Indonesia invaded. They took refuge in Maputo, and the Mozambican capital became their home for more than three decades.
The new embassy is operating out of the house where the Alkatiris once lived, and which also served as offices for the Timorese independence movement, Fretilin.
Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao described the opening of a Timorese Embassy in Maputo as a landmark in the relationship between the two countries.
He said that Mozambique is prepared to continue lending its support to East Timor. "Let us work together, in an interactive way", he said.
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