Subject: RA: interview with Xanana on 3 years

East Timor president interviewed on three years of independence

May 19, 2005 8:21am Asia Intelligence Wire

Text of "Asia-Pacific" report by Radio Australia on 19 May

[Presenter Linda LoPresti] Bougainvilleans aren't the only ones marking an historic occasion tomorrow [previous report was on the poll on the Papua New Guinea island]. In East Timor, celebrations will begin for the third anniversary of independence. It marks the end of a long and tortuous struggle for East Timor, but three years on the scars of the violence and destruction that accompanied the vote for self-determination remain. In Dili, "Asia-Pacific's" Sen Lam spoke with East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao about the challenges of uniting a fledgling nation.

[Sen Lam] Mr President, congratulations first of all on the third anniversary of East Timor's independence. What do you see as the priorities in nation-building for the years ahead?

[Gusmao] In the years ahead, I can say that they are to consolidate the state institutions.

[Sen Lam] And do you have any particular institutions in mind?

[Gusmao] Justice, courts. As you know, our judges nominated in 2000 by UNTAET [the UN transitional authority], they didn't pass a test. Then there was the training programme, and the justice is the institution that will need our full attention in the years to come.

[Sen Lam] Staying with the issue of challenges facing East Timor as a young nation, would you say that national reconciliation is right up there on top?

[Gusmao] I believe that we already surpass the problem of national reconciliation. (?From time to time) they [presumably Indonesians] only feel stresses by the lack of attention of the state, of the government, of other institutions to make them sure that they are not forgotten. We must say that it is not any more a big matter.

[Sen Lam] So you think that the East Timorese people are pulling together with regard to what happened in the past? Do you think there is genuine forgiveness and, for the perpetrators, an acknowledgement of past wrongdoings?

[Gusmao] I believe so. I can tell you that in this question we have a commission, a commission of truth and reconciliation, that held public hearings including the major actors, political actors in 74-75. You cannot see Indonesian people there. You only can see Timorese there. If we need justice, the standard of justice must be for everyone. In general terms, people want to look to the future.

[Sen Lam] Delivery of services to the people is one of the challenges that your young nation faces. What do you think needs to done in order for East Timor to achieve economic emancipation?

[Gusmao] I come from a period time without mobiles, without television, and the market was an exchange of goods between people. Now, what we need is money. If you have a good plan but you don't have money, you are doing nothing. You are just talking. After 20 May 2002 the government presented to me a law to increase the taxation. I sent back the law, saying why you increase taxation, it will affect the lives of the poor people? Well, the answer was, we need money to pay ourselves because the donor countries told us - the government - they can give some money to the roads, to build a school, to build a clinic, to buy medicine, but not pay the civil servants.

[Sen Lam] What about the development of East Timor's vast mineral resources? What do you make of the recent movement in talks on the maritime boundary between Australia and East Timor?

[Gusmao] Not a difficult question for me, but a difficult question for the Australian government. We claim some rights. Our recurrent budget is about 75 million [unspecified] a year. What makes us so sad is that we are losing 1 million a day because we lost our rights regarding to the Laminaria, Buffalo and Corallina [oil and gas fields]. And Australia said no, it is ours, forget this.

[Sen Lam] What do you make of the latest proposal for East Timor to be granted up to 5bn Australian dollars in royalties and revenue in exchange for shelving negotiations for the maritime boundary for 50 years? What do you make of that proposal?

[Gusmao] Well, I will give this issue to the government, because it is the government dealing with this. But as president, I should say that in the constitution I have to be the guarantee of our sovereignty. I will continue to say that we are losing 1 million a day when we are asking every year, asking for money from the donors.

Source: Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 1005 gmt 19 May 05

BBC Monitoring

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