Sumario: July 30, 2001: Statement by H.E. Jean De Ruyt on behalf of the European Union. The situation in East Timor (New York)
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia); the associated countries of Cyprus, Malta and Turkey and Iceland and Liechtenstein, EFTA countries belonging to the European Economic Area, align themselves with this statement.
I would first like to welcome M. Vieira de Mello and M. Ramos Horta. Through them I would like to commend the institutions they represent for the considerable progress they have achieved over the past few months towards the implementation of resolutions 1272 (1999) and 1338 (2001). We have come a long way since UNTAET received its broad mandate in the autumn of 1999 to assume overall responsibility for the transitional administration of a greatly devastated territory.
Not even two years later the people of East Timor are firmly on their way to full independence. The elections on 30 August constitute the next step towards the building of a sustainable nation. We attach great importance to the holding of free, fair and orderly elections. The European Union is sending a team of election observers to East Timor. In our view the elections constitute a high point in the process of Timorisation, of giving ownership to the people of East Timor. It goes without saying that we count on a broad participation by the population. To this end it is essential that the civic and voter education process continue.
We feel encouraged by the signing by most political parties of the pact of national unity. This pact commits the signatories to the principles of democracy, tolerance and respect for minorities, and to respect the outcome of the elections. The EU would like to see these same principles enshrined in the Constitution. Indeed, the elections are also a means to help the process towards the adoption of a Constitution for East Timor. That document will form the blueprint of the future East Timorese nation. Its importance cannot be underestimated.
The economic situation in East Timor remains difficult. Currently, growth still seems largely dependent on the foreign presence and on subsidies in the agricultural sector. More needs to be done to create conditions for sustainable economic development. We agree with the Secretary General's observation that property laws and a framework for commercial activity are needed in order to stimulate the private sector.
The initialing between Australian and East Timorese Cabinet Ministers of the Timor Sea Arrangement constitutes a big step in the right direction. We hope that this and future agreements will contribute to long-term growth in an independent East Timor. For that to happen, it is also necessary that further efforts be made in the development of the agricultural sector.
Last week we noted with satisfaction the democratic and peaceful transfer of power in Indonesia. It is our profound hope that a new Government will continue to implement the terms of resolution 1319 (2000). In the past we have strongly insisted that Indonesia follow up on its obligations. The record so far has been uneven.
Recently, the registration of refugees in West Timor has taken place. The preliminary results of the registration and balloting may well reflect the refugees' choice on that day. Still, questions remain over the long-term intentions of the refugees who for now opted to stay on Indonesian territory. We hope that these doubts will be resolved, and we believe that those who eventually want to return to East Timor should be able to do so in security.
We call upon the Indonesian authorities to cooperate with UNTAET and the future East Timorese authorities in prosecuting crimes against humanity and humanitarian law in East Timor prior to and after the popular consultation in 1999, including through the establishment of an ad hoc court in Indonesia. We further expect that the Government in Jakarta carry forward the appeals procedure in the case of the murder last year of three UNHCR workers in Atambua.
In resolution 1338 the Council unanimously stressed the need for a substantial international presence in East Timor after independence. The Secretary General in his report offers us some specific recommendations, and further recommendations will be given by October. We agree that there is room for a reduction in the overall presence. This should however be tied to the real needs on the ground and be conducted in close consultation with the Timorese population. In this respect we encourage efforts to identify areas where on-going support is needed. We acknowledge the important role the UN agencies; the international financial institutions and regional organizations have so far played, and hope for their increased involvement in the future.
The militias in West Timor remain a potential threat to East Timor, particularly in the border areas. We need to be particularly vigilant during the election period. In other areas the society of East Timor is confronted with problems of public order. In that respect, we encourage the further development and training of the East Timor Police Service, which should play an increasing role in enforcing public security. Also, attention should be given to the setting up of a strong judicial system.
Great progress has been achieved on the way to an independent East Timor. The East Timorese people and the international community have invested a lot of effort in this process. These efforts should not be lost. The international community has committed itself to remain present in East Timor. We stress the need to carefully design that presence and reiterate that any revision should take into account the security situation, the needs on the ground and the wishes of the population. We look forward to further recommendations in that respect by the Secretary General.