Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 21 March 2005

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Monday, 21 March 2005

Timor-Leste expects early boundary deal

Timor-Leste hopes to end its stand-off with Australia over a maritime boundary dispute by as early as mid 2005, a move that would unlock billions of dollars for one of the world’s poorest states.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said progress had been made with Australia during talks in Canberra earlier this month. “There is still no agreement but we will do our best to get this resolved by May or June,” he said. Mr Alkatiri said Australia had raised the previous offer to pay AUS$3 billion in exchange for a 100-year postponement of boundary negotiations. Australia is now understood to be offering AUS$4 billion but Timor-Leste still wants a “financial” deal that would see Canberra pay a fixed sum over several years for control of the Greater Sunrise field. Timor-Leste insists it would own as much as 100 per cent of the field if the maritime boundary in the Timor Sea was halfway between the two countries.

Woodside Petroleum has halted work on the Greater Sunrise project, a liquefied natural gas project in the Timor Sea, while the dispute continues. (Financial Times)

Timor-Leste launches first commercial flight

Timor-Leste’s first commercial airline launched its inaugural flight on Friday, serving a route connecting Dili to Kupang. Since 2003, Indonesia’s Merpati Airlines has been operating several routes from Dili to Indonesian cities while training the crew for Timor-Leste’s own airline, Kakoak Air. President Xanana Gusmão took a brief flight over Dili before the plane went to Kupang. “This flight will give East Timorese more freedom to visit their brothers in West Timor,” he said. (Reuters)

Apostolic Nuncio visits Timor-Leste

The Apostolic Nuncio for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, Archbishop Malcolm Raamjiph, arrived in Dili for an official visit on Friday. This is the second time that an official from the Vatican has visited Timor-Leste since Pope John Paul II in 1989.

In his visit to the Cathedral upon arrival and in his homily during the Palm Sunday mass yesterday, Rammjiph said that Timor-Leste does not belong to people from other countries, such as Mozambique or European countries, but that it belongs to the Timorese.

He said he has noticed that some people are trying to force Timorese to live two different lives a private, religious one versus and a public, secular one. He said that this is not possible. He ended by saying that he came to Timor-Leste to encourage churchgoers to tolerate and confront those who are intent on destroying the Church and he also thanked the community for receiving him.

Raamjiph also appealed to the community not to sell crosses, as the cross is a sacred symbol for Catholics, and also not to tolerate abortion or euthanasia. (Timor Post, STL)

Disagreement on religious education continues

President of the National Parliament Francisco Guterres has requested the Religious Student Movement of Timor-Leste (MOJERTIL) not to pressure the government on the issue of religious education in schools, as dialogue already exists between the government, the Church and religious organizations to resolve this issue. Speaking to STL, Guterres was responding to threats by MOJERTIL that they will hold a demonstration protesting the government policy that religion not be included in the national primary school curriculum as a compulsory subject.

Meanwhile, in his discussions with the people of Manatuto and Baucau, President Xanana Gusmao received complaints from the community there on the policy, complaining that the government’s stance is immoral. Community members said that the religious education that they would like to see taught is of a general nature, teaching humanitarian and spiritual values to school children, not necessarily incorporating the teaching of religious doctrine. (STL)

Political analyst comments on possible mission extension

Political analyst Julio Tomas Pinto has commented on the possible extension of the UN presence in Timor-Leste, saying that the request by the national government for an extension of the mission is for reasons of an economic, political and security nature. He said that if the UN mission does end, there is a concern that the current level of aid money will decrease, and that this will have an impact on Timor-Leste’s development. He added that UNMISET’s existence also has an impact on political stability as well as national security.

In an opinion piece on the merits of an extension, Pinto concluded by saying that even though the above reasons are all very well, it is time for Timor-Leste to take responsibility for its own economic, political and security situation, and that the government of Timor-Leste should not request a mission extension. (Timor Post)

Timor Petroleum considered advanced

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri says that Timor-Leste’s petroleum system is more advanced than that of other countries. Speaking to journalists on Sunday after returning from a petroleum conference in London, he said that such an advanced petroleum system was represented by a partnership between the government, civil society, multi-national companies and oil companies. He added that even the World Bank views Timor-Leste as a best-practice model in its petroleum management system. (Timor Post)

Co-operation the aim in visit by Indonesian President

Timor-Leste President Xanana Gusmao says that the Indonesian President’s visit to Timor-Leste on 4 April will be a state visit. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to highlight the development of cooperation between the two countries during his meetings with government officials. (Timor Post)

Makeshift shelters pulled down

Approximately 100 makeshift shelters erected by vendors along the Coconut Beach Road were pulled down last Friday following orders from the Dili District Administration. The operation was carried out by officers from the Dili District Sanitation Department and involved the national police. Vendors interviewed by STL expressed their disappointment at the government action, as they have not been assigned any other place to sell their goods. Some said that if the government continues to limit their options in making a living, then it is the same as leaving them and their families to starve.

Dili District Administrator Ruben Braz de Carvalho said that the shelters spoiled the attractiveness and cleanliness of the city. According to Carvalho, more of these actions are planned for other makeshift shelters in Dili.

Approximately 20 of the vendors took their case to the National Parliament on Friday, upset and angry by the actions of the Dili District Administration. Speaking of the current economic situation as critical, the vendors said that destroying their shelters by putting holes in their tin and canvas roofs was inconsiderate. Member of Parliament from Commission A, Vicente Faria, said that the Parliament would speak to the Dili District Administration regarding the case. (STL)

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