Subject: RDP/AFP: Portugal to continue Timor aid

BBC Monitoring International Reports

January 5, 2004


(Presenter) East Timor would like to keep an international military peace force on its territory. The UN forces will leave in five months' time. Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta told his Portuguese counterpart Teresa Gouveia this morning in Lisbon that he would like to count on a Portuguese contribution to the new peace force which might replace the UN's.

(Reporter) The UN mission ends in May. Before the end of January a UN team will access the need for a new mandate. The Timorese government would like international troops to remain in the territory but in reduced numbers or within another framework. Lisbon was receptive to this wish.

(Horta 15:01:03) We continue to rely heavily on Portugal's support to guarantee an ongoing UN presence in East Timor after May 2004. This ongoing presence is crucial to guarantee the consolidation of the gains of the last few years. The situation is calm, peaceful. We have make great progress in almost all areas but institutions remain fragile and it is necessary to maintain a credible UN presence in East Timor to consolidate this progress (15:01:44).

(Reporter) Teresa Gouveia stressed that it is in Portugal's interest to be part of a new UN participation in Timor but the details of the Portuguese contribution will depend on the UN assessment.

(Gouveia 15:01:59) On Portugal's behalf what I can say is that we will be totally available, interested and committed to be present and once again cooperate with the Timorese government. Naturally, it is between the UN and the East Timorese government that the nature of this presence will have to be ironed out (15:02:20).

(Reporter) As for the Cooperation Indicative Plan signed today, it represents 50m euros of investment in the next three years. In 2004 priority will be given to education, the Portuguese language, health and administrative training. The plan is very generous, according to Ramos Horta, who also stressed this was an incentive for other countries to continue to support East Timor.

Source: RDP Antena 1 radio, Lisbon, in Portuguese 1500 gmt 5 Jan 04

Agence France Presse

January 5, 2004 Monday

Portugal to give East Timor 50 million euros in aid in next three years


Portugal said Monday it will give its former colony East Timor 50 million euros (63 million dollars) in aid over the next three years to help the country rebuild its battered post-independence economy.

"The priority areas will be education and health," Portuguese Foreign Minister Teresa Gouveia told reporters following a two-hour meeting with visiting East Timorese counterpart Jose Ramos-Horta.

East Timor will receive 15 million euros in 2004, with the remaining aid divided equally over the next two years.

After 24 years of guerrilla warfare following Indonesia's 1975 invasion, East Timor's economy was devastated by pro-Indonesian militia violence in the wake of a 1999 independence referendum.

In a bid to try to sabotage the future new nation, armed groups set afire government buildings after it became clear the territory had overwhelmingly voted in favour of freedom from Indonesian rule.

The country's economy has since been largely propped up by aid donors, notably from Portugal, nearby Australia and the United Nations.

East Timor, a nation of just over 800,000 people, badly needs the flow of international aid to the country to continue because the development of its oil and gas fields is taking longer than expected, Ramos-Horta said.

"The situation in East Timor, although stable and tranquil over these past 12 months, continues to be one of great difficulty and fragility," he told a news conference.

East Timor's finance ministry has predicted that the country's budget deficit will nearly double to 137.9 million dollars by 2007 because of the delays in the development of its oil and gas fields.



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