Subject: XG: New Year Message to the Diplomatic Corps

Please find the attach New Year Message to the Diplomatic Corps by H.E President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao on 13 January 2004 at the Palace of Ashes, Caicoli Dili.


NEW YEAR MESSAGE 2005 Excellencies Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ambassadors and Heads of Missions Representatives of Agencies of Cooperation Ladies and Gentlemen

We are all being affected by the consequences of the gigantic proportions of an unprecedented natural disaster which wiped out many places in many countries of the Indian Ocean.

The enormous wave of international solidarity deserves our deepest appreciation, because it reminds the People of Timor-Leste of the substantial support received during the tragic moments at the end of 1999.

The Government of Timor-Leste, as expected, immediately joined the international community in its efforts to provide support, within the existing financial constraints, which are well known to all of us.

But there is no lack of will to contribute with whatever our people can afford, as a gesture of solidarity of a small nation which enjoys today the fruit of peace and stability, due to the unconditional and continuous support from the Community of Nations.

I issued an appeal to initiate a Movement which became known as “Operação Domin” in which, you also took part, kicked off last Sunday with the Prayer Ceremony, led by diverse religions, and ended with the throwing of flowers to the sea in memory of the Tsunami victims. I appreciate your participation.

Through Operation Domin there will be a series of fundraising events which will end on the night of the 26th January, marking the first month of this tragic event. I now am inviting you to participate.

Ladies and Gentelemen

We are now in the beginning of the new year and, on behalf of the People of Timor-Leste, for each one of you, your families and countries, I wish to express to Your Excellencies our best wishes for a prosperous 2005.

Allow me now to begin with an analysis of the situation in Timor-Leste.

2004 ended overall as a stable year, although marred with some frictions, some more serious then others but nevertheless normal considering the present stage of growth of the nation, where the demands and claims are beyond the capacity to respond.

The national economy, in spite of still being very fragile, is also stable, although with much dependency on rain fall, a key factor normally affecting some parts of the territory.

Lack of employment has been partly minimized by the level of activities of the construction of bridges and roads. The programmes emanating out of RESPECT, on the other hand, have benefited quite a significant number of people, almost everywhere, which to a certain extent increased the buying power, albeit temporary, of the beneficiaries.

The Administrative apparatus has improved but it still requires more commitment and, above all, the State’s office bearers need to embrace a higher degree of responsibility.

It is well known and often said that there is a need to enhance the capacity of the Institutions of the State, so they are able to undertake their responsibilities with due professionalism and ethical standards.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I wish to express my gratitude to you all and especially to those in the Security Council for your support for the extension of UNMISET, until 20 of May this year. In the same token, I also wish to express my appreciation for your participation in the Working Groups, and your awareness on the need for continuing technical assistance, so that the administration of a variety of institutions of the Timorese State can, in due course, increase its capacity.

In the end of 2004, I must say that we were impressed by the civil and orderly participation of the population of the districts of Oe-Cusse and Bobonaro. The will of the people was expressed in the extraordinary high voter turn out during the elections for the Chefes de Aldeias (Villages Chiefs), Chefes de Suco (Suco Chiefs) and the Council of Suco.

The results, on their own, demonstrate the high degree of democratic understanding of those populations which aspire to participate in a more decisive way in the decision making within the process of nation building, particularly at a local level, where they live on a day-t-o-day basis with their difficulties.

For this reason, I wish to express my gratitude for the support you have provided towards this process, acknowledging, however, that the difficulties faced, point to the need for your ongoing support. I have met with the National Electoral Council (CNE) and with the Electoral Administrative and Technical Service (STAE), which also updated me on the existing technical and logistic needs which the Government has agreed to provide adequate responses to.

This was the beginning of the first democratic election, solely under the responsibility of the Timorese, and the very first, in our history, of community leaders. If, on one hand, I am expressing a great delightedness, on the other hand, I fear that this can become a source of problems, since the community chiefs, in reality, will not be capable of solving or helping resolve the problems of the population.

In my view, there is an absolute need to implement civic and political education of the community leaders and population, so that they can acquire a better understanding of their respective roles, without overestimating the competence of some nor undervaluing the input of others.

The International Agencies should work together with the national NGOs which are working in related field, to provide comprehensive and intensive support to the communities.

Ladies and Gentlemen

I have to express my disappointment for our inability to move forward with the process of electing a Provedor for Justice and Human Rights. The National Parliament made use of its full constitutional competence and yet decided that they found no one suitable to fill this post. We all hope that this year, the National Parliament can discover the right person to fill such an important office.

After two and a half years waiting, I believe it is possible to state that, at the latest, in the beginning of February, we shall have a functioning Council of State and, afterwards, the Superior Council of Defence and Security, to allow for the appreciation of Matters of political relevance or, in other words, matters concerning the state as a whole.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Lastly, I wish to touch on the relations between Timor-Leste and its neighbours.

Australia was, since the beginning, and still is an important donor for Timor-Leste, be it at a multilateral level or bilaterally, however the year 2004 was not a fortunate year in terms of our relations with Australia.

The differences are fundamental both in the legal aspects of the issues and on the economic estimates sprouting from therewith, highlighting in form and substance a question of national interest and not able to be relegated to a diplomatic exercise.

We are going to continue to be firm in standing for our rights, recognizing the rights of Australia to assert its interest, but I wish to make it clear that we are not going to back away from what we believe is our entitlement, according to international law.

Nevertheless, relations between Australia and Timor-Leste have been positive as far as the understanding of Canberra on the difficulties faced by the Government of Timor-Leste in this process of nation building.

In relation to Indonesia, more then half of 2004 was ‘filled’ by observing the electoral political situation which took place in our neighbouring country, the election which was a victory for democracy and a demonstration of electoral maturity of the people of Indonesia.

Obviously, it was not entirely the atmosphere of suspense, arising from the elections, that delayed the search for a solution on the pending issues between the two countries as, in my opinion, the policies of the State of Indonesia regarding Timor-Leste will not change, albeit the new government, as it has not. Since the early days, we could count on the commitment of Jakarta and, more recently, we had the opportunity, in Bali, to listen to the new President of the Republic of Indonesia reassuring us of his desire to focus on finding a solution for our issues of mutual concern.

We hope and desire that both Governments will move forward with more concrete steps.

As it is known to you all, both States agreed to create the Truth and Friendship Commission. The Secretary-General of the United Nations welcomed the initiative but reiterated that it can not substitute the Commission of Experts.

Regarding this and related matters I wish to stress two issues: one is that Timor-Leste has given an undertaking to the United Nations, since the May 5 Accord of 1999, which led to the Transitional Administration, that was with UNTAET and, afterwards and until now, with UNMISET.

The Serious Crimes Unit was established at the time of UNTAET under its jurisdiction, within the framework of a Resolution of the Security Council, a reason which obliges us to respect all the relevant Resolutions, such as the one that relates to the setting up of the COE.

Another issue is that we are going to continue to work with Jakarta, within our aiming at reiterating our rights and legitimacy, as two Sovereign States, to take legitimate initiatives which lead to the strengthening of peace and stability between both countries and harmony for the people of both countries.

I have plans to travel to Jakarta on the 27th January 2005, and I will have the opportunity to have a better exchange of opinion and fruitful discussion with President Susilo Yudhoyono.

As a closing note, I take this opportunity to wish you all a Prosperous New Year.

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