Subject: ffitz - RTP/RDP: Interviews with Xanana
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 08:58:09 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts

East Timor's resistance leader says it's important to talk Source: RTP Internacional TV, Lisbon, in Portuguese 2000 gmt 13 Feb 99

Excerpts from report by Portuguese TV on 13th February

The Indonesians'interest in Xanana Gusmao is increasing with every passing day. Journalists jostle outside the building [in Jakarta] where the East Timorese resistance leader is under house arrest. The Indonesian regime's growing openness, and Xanana's meetings with important figures queuing up to meet him are making headlines in the Jakarta papers.

Xanana Gusmao told RTP that the idea of an independent East Timor is no longer just an illusion.

[Gusmao] I believe that the government finally recognized that the Timorese should be given the opportunity to communicate, to establish dialogue among themselves, because, really, without communication amongst ourselves things cannot move forward, will never move forward.

As for independence, I believe that is what we have been pursuing for the last 23 years, with a great many sacrifices. I believe that this is the future upon which we must set our sights and, while of course keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground, we must prepare to meet these future challenges.

[Lisbon reporter] ... Some voices have been heard saying that there may be problems in Timor because of the armed militias. What information do you have, and what do you think of all this?

[Gusmao] ... Regarding problems in East Timor, I am starting from the premise that I cannot use the problems in East Timor, the violence and the conflicts, as a reason for refusing to meet people, rather they should be used as an argument to make us realize, to make the point that it is up to us to bring such conflicts to an end.

-- BBC Summary of World Broadcasts

Timorese resistance leader speaks on future for East Timor RDP Antena 1 radio, Lisbon,

Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, in an interview with Portugese radio, said he thought the new developments in East Timor would lead to a transitional status followed by independence. Speaking from his new home in Jakarta, Gusmao said the timing will depend on the ability to assuage "groundless" international concerns regarding civil war. He described the decision taken by Habibie on East Timor as an "emergency way" out of economic difficulties and not a prepared "political resolution" which accounts for the "uncertain strategy" of the government, although he is optimistic it will gradually make its position clear.

Excerpts from report by Portuguese radio on 12th February

We have on the line Xanana Gusmao [Timorese resistance leader] from his new home in Jakarta. Francisco Sena Santos is speaking to him.

[Santos] Xanana, good afternoon...

[Xanana Gusmao] Good afternoon, greetings to all RDP1 listeners...

[Q] You are free to see who you want?

[A] Yes, I can say that I am. My priority [changes thought], I have agreed with the authorities that from Monday to Saturday I see mainly all those Timorese involved in the problem or who have influence in the process. On Sundays I can receive friends and family.

[Q] How do you see these new developments, what do you think should happen next? [A] I think that this will lead to a return of East Timor to the status which it had before the war of 1975, with a short period of transition for us to create the basic infrastructures to set up a new, independent nation.

[Q] ... Xanana, you told us about a transition period, how do you see this? When will it start? When should Indonesia start withdrawing from East Timor? [A] [Former Portuguese President] Dr Mario Soares is quite right when he says that everything is still very uncertain. I cannot give you dates. It will all depend on the next tripartite meeting [Portugal, Indonesia, UN]. But it will also depend on our ability to convince the international community, and above all Indonesia, that the concerns which have been expressed are groundless - the concerns regarding a new civil war, etc, etc. We think that with this new position of the Indonesian government, we have to reach an accord in principle that if there are no weapons, there will be no wars. So only a political approach can give us a solid basis to define mechanisms for the solution.

[Q, interrupting] The fact is that there are weapons, and apparently in everyone's hands, the resistance's and in the death squadrons', shall we say -only yesterday CNN showed armed pro-Indonesian guerrillas - how will it be possible? Do you advocate that both sides should disarm? ... [A] I think that Indonesia, the Indonesian authorities, should show the world their good faith, if they really want to resolve the problem of East Timor. We know that the decision taken by Habibie's government was, shall we say, an emergency way out of the economic difficulties they were facing. It was not a political resolution, a decision, taken consciously. We understand that in Indonesian society and government circles there are still certain reservations regarding the attitude expressed by the government. However we believe that with everyone's effort, and that is why we demand that if Indonesia wants to resolve the problem, if it wants us the Timorese to help find a way out, help Indonesia leave East Timor with its head held high, with honour, well then we will start on the basis of all the apprehensions that today worry people [sentence as heard]. Any dialogue to resolve any conflict - if both sides are not interested in removing the basis for war, annul the conditions for conflict, in this case weapons - there will be no solution [sentence as heard]. We, for our part are willing at any time, under UN supervision, control, to lay down our weapons. But we want Indonesia to show enough maturity and political sincerity to accept this accord. Of course it will not happen tomorrow. Once a cease-fire is agreed, the UN will be there to supervise a total disarmament. We have been ready for this for the last 23 years - it was not us who caused the war. We only took up arms to defend ourselves.

What we demand is that Indonesia participates. The best way for Indonesia to leave East Timor, with its head held high, with honour, is for it to participate in the disarmament, in the process of pacification of East Timor.

[Q] Do you accept simultaneous disarmament, that is the pro-Indonesian militias and the pro-independence guerrillas? [A] I do not call them pro-Indonesian militias. For me the pro-Indonesian militias are not the force which have for the last 23 years waged war against Falintil [East Timor National Liberation Armed Forces]. The pro-Indonesian militias are simply as you said death squadrons which intimidate, scare and kill the population. On this I am not going to compromise. They must be disarmed immediately.

[Q] And the pro-independence guerrillas, at a later stage? [A] I accept that the negotiations for a cease-fire will be attended by the paramilitary which have been used by the occupying forces, making war against Falintil. We accept that the paramilitary and the Indonesian soldiers, the battalions we normally called ABRI, will be negotiating with Falintil. But as for the militias we demand their immediate and total disarmament.

[Q] Would you like to see a multinational interposition force, for example a UN force on the ground soon? [A] We want to be realistic. We are aware of the UN's financial difficulties. We know this will be practically, I could say, impossible. But if there are countries, such as New Zealand, Australia I don't know, but New Zealand and other friendly countries which are interested in saving a people, interested in preventing further bloodshed in East Timor, and who offer to send their forces and pay from their own pockets, I think this would be greatly welcomed by all sides. And this is what we hope for, this generosity of friendly countries interested in the future of the people of East Timor.

[Q] At the moment the tripartite negotiations are partly stuck, apparently over one question: not autonomy, but mainly the way to consult the people of Timor about autonomy. Is a consultation not using the "one man, one vote" method acceptable, not using a referendum, a ballot? [A] I must say that for us the referendum is what we have always advocated. If there were to be other methods, that will not be up to me to decide. We are all trying to concentrate our efforts firstly to reconcile, gain, obtain a shared perception of the process among the pro-integration and pro-independence Timorese. Then we can speak of methods and mechanisms. I cannot comment now...

[Q] When do you hope to return to Timor? [A] Well, that is a question [changes thought] what I would really like would be to be there now but if I try to see when I might be able to go there [changes thought], I am not thinking about it yet. I am just thinking that the timing will be defined by my efforts and by the efforts of all my colleagues, abroad and above all in the interior, towards obtaining a real reconciliation. For us now a real reconciliation will be the basis to reduce all the obstacles, all the apprehensions hindering the negotiations at the UN. We are not, we do not want to highlight many of Jakarta's mistakes. We understand that the mentality of 32 years of dictatorship, a corrupt regime, cannot change in 24 hours. We want to take on a determining role in the solution of our own problem, with clear UN support and above all the support of the Portuguese people, politicians, friends and organs of sovereignty.

[Q] ... You are aware of President Habibie's statement yesterday at the chamber of commerce, a declaration of independence avant la lettre, as Adelino Gomes of the 'Publico' describes today. Do you agree? [A] Really it could be said it was ambiguous, but in a way, if we see what he wanted to say, I can say, as I have today told the [gets muddled up with the letters of an acronym, unclear what he means], that the decision taken by Habibie's government when he presented the two alternatives, was a gigantic effort, because it had to lift the weight of 32 years - the government was not prepared. The government had not defined a strategy, plans, and slowly things became more defined, supported even by Indonesian society, by public opinion. I think that all seems uncertain but it appears that a framework is being sought. We are seeing a gradual development, sometimes rushed, in spurts, but everything tends to come together in an outlook, which I think - I am optimistic although we have a right to keep some reservations - I am optimistic that slowly the Indonesian government will make its positions clear, its real positions regarding East Timor.

[Q] You think Timor is moving irreversibly towards independence? [A] That has always been our belief.

[Q] But now faster than previously thought? [A] Yes, yes.

[Q] What do you expect from Portugal with regard to the negotiations on Timor? What is Portugal's role? [A] Portugal has played a role which the constitution enshrines, and it has played it very well. Sometimes, I recognize, that many years ago, we liked to shout because we were suffering. We made a lot of noise, we demanded too much. But Portugal has always remained firm, it has held a firm position. This is what [changes thought] this is why we have always been confident that we had a supporter we should trust. Today the Portuguese government, the current government, the organs of sovereignty, have shown great coherence and great, shall we say, ability to deal with the problems of this complex Indonesian policy. We continue to believe that under any future circumstances -since Indonesia can always surprise us - we know that Portugal will always be by our side. Portugal will not rest until we have our right to [interrupted]

[Q] What is the role of the church? ... [A] As for the Vatican, I think that the two bishops should answer. I do not have diplomatic relations with the Pope. As for the Timorese church, it has always been the moral support. And today more than ever, it should be the mediator between the various political opinions, and I think it will help tremendously in the true process of national reconciliation...

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