|Subject: Interview w/Gusmao: Wahid eager
for new ties with Australia
also: [SMH/May 3] Renew Indonesian military links: Beazley; Too Soon To Resume Defence Ties, Says PM
Asia-Pacific Report Australian Broadcasting Corporation First broadcast 3/05/2000
PRESIDENT WAHID EAGER FOR NEW TIES WITH AUSTRALIA:XANANA GUSMAO
After months of strained relations between Jakarta and Canberra, East Timorese leader, Xanana Gusmao, says Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid is "very anxious" to build new ties with Australia.
And he says he'll be discussing the Indonesian leader's surprise proposal for a tripartite commission to deal with regional problems when he meets Prime Minister John Howard later this week.
The former guerrilla commander and political prisoner has begun a five-day visit to Australia...on arrival in Melbourne, he spoke to Asia Pacific's Tom Fayle.
FAYLE: Xanana Gusmao, thank you very much for talking to Asia Pacific. Last week you met President Wahid in Jakarta. At that meeting the Indonesian leader floated the idea of some sort of regional commission to sort out problems between Australia, Indonesia and East Timor. What's your own view on that proposal?
GUSMAO: I saw this proposal very, very interesting and I immediately told President Wahid that he will convey this idea to Mr. Howard. Of course, as you already know he said that it could be in Darwin or in Kupang or in Dili and I would like to listen to Mr. Howard before I say something more.
FAYLE: But what will be your advice to Mr. Howard, will you encourage him to take that idea further?
GUSMAO: I am not feeling like the right person to advise anybody. It is better that I talk to Mr. Howard and I believe that Mr. Howard will express his opinion about this idea.
FAYLE: So far your public comments have been polite but non committal. Do you think the Indonesians have really thought this idea through?
GUSMAO: I believe so, I believe that Wahid is very, very anxious to have a new relationship with Australia and of course with East Timor.
FAYLE: If I can turn to East Timor itself, it's been more than six months since Jakarta officially gave up control of the territory to the UN. How concerned are you about the divisions that have begun to emerge or perhaps re-emerge within East Timorese society, now that the liberation struggle is over?
GUSMAO: I think that we have to understand two factors. One the social problems - no employment, no jobs, and it causes dissatisfaction. And the other factor is that because of these frustrations they are very, very easy to be manipulated by some parts, and they opt for violence, they are very easy to accept money to gamble, to drink. It is a problem because of the lack of jobs. Not that East Timorese are divided into sides, but you know during the Indonesian occupation many people were used by the Indonesian military as intelligence agents and they were very accustomed to easy life. Many, many times we talked to them but because we have nothing else than wars, they already got frustrated.
FAYLE: But aren't you for example alienating the whole post '75 generation by insisting that Portuguese become the official language. Doesn't that immediately open up a gap between those of your generation and those that grew up learning Indonesian and Tetum?
GUSMAO: I think that you are mixing the problem of a group who seeks violence, who seeks gambling, who are manipulated by some people, and an issue of language. Yes, in the beginning there was an issue, an issue because everybody that started had the adverse information. They told that if we dropped the Portuguese language they will not have jobs. But now it is not the problem because we have already told the civil servants...it was a mentality that the civil servants walk into the state or to the government, it is a social status and so on....to the civil servants who will be only 7,000, and more than two thirds will be in health and education and that we will use Tetum, Portuguese, Bahasa in our daily life. We are using English because of internationalisation of the problem. People come from all corners of the world, but it is a different matter, it is behind. Already we met twice UNTAET peace keeping force, CEPOL, CNRT, to analyse the situation and it was more criminal behaviour than any political perception of them.
FAYLE: You've said on many occasions that you don't want to repeat mistakes of others by converting yourself from a guerilla commander to a post independence head of state. But if you don't take on the job who do you see as taking on that role at what will be such a crucial time?
GUSMAO: You must understand that we are talking about jobs, we are talking about the increase of violence, talking about the delay of the process of reconstruction, and having that next years, the same day you can ask me about this because so many problems that we cannot....it is a non issue to us because so many problems. At the third of May 2001 I will invite you to Dili and answer you.
Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 3 May 2000
Renew Indonesian military links: Beazley
By LINDSAY MURDOCH and TONY WRIGHT JAKARTA AND JERUSALEM
Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has urged that Australia's defence forces resume cooperation with Indonesia's military just six months after the country's soldiers were involved in widespread violence and destruction in East Timor.
Speaking during a two-day visit to Jakarta, Mr Beazley said any future cooperation between the two country's armed forces should be part of a more diverse relationship. He said military cooperation "must be supportive of Indonesia's democratic transition".
But Prime Minister John Howard said from Jerusalem yesterday that he believed it was too early to start rebuilding defence ties with Indonesia.
Mr Howard dismissed Mr Beazley's trip to Indonesia as having little impact on the effort to rebuild Australia's relationship with Indonesia.
"I don't think it has mattered a great deal either way," he said, adding that he did not wish to politicise the matter.
Mr Beazley referred to remarks by Mr Howard last week in which the Prime Minister said that relations between Indonesia and Australia would never be the same again. "Our relationship will indeed never be the same - for one very positive reason: we are no longer just neighbors in geography but today we are also neighbors in democracy," he said.
Mr Beazley, a former defence minister in the Keating government, pushed the idea of Australian forces undertaking "cooperative endeavors" with Indonesian forces, such as trying to combat the growing problem of piracy at sea.
Relations between the Australian Defence Force and the Indonesian armed forces have been effectively frozen since Australian troops led international forces into East Timor last September to end violence, looting and destruction in the territory by Indonesian troops and their militia allies.
Almost all the senior military commanders blamed for the violence have been promoted and still hold key jobs in the Indonesian armed forces.
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has said that the chief of the armed forces at the time of the violence, General Wiranto, will be pardoned even if an Indonesian court finds him guilty.
Mr Beazley, who presented himself in meetings in Jakarta as the likely next prime minister of Australia, ruled out Australian troops resuming the training of Indonesia's elite Kopassus forces, who are blamed for sponsoring much of the East Timor violence.
But he said: "I think you can see from the things I am saying that we need a mature defence relationship that is based on confidence building."
Mr Beazley said there should be an opportunity to "nut out" problems or concerns that arose with aspects of either Australian or Indonesian security.
"This type of talk is important," Mr Beazley said. "When it comes to more cooperative endeavors with forces perse I think we should explore things like the piracy issue, which I think is actually a serious problem."
Mr Beazley criticised Mr Howard for failing to visit Indonesia since Mr Wahid, the country's first democratically elected president, took office last October.
"Our national interests ... dictate that we cannot step back from each other just because the going gets tough," Mr Beazley said during a breakfast meeting of the Indonesia-Australian Business Council. "Neither of us can afford to put the other on the shelf for a few years."
Mr Beazley played down problems that have highlighted tensions between Canberra and Jakarta in recent weeks, including the interception by two Indonesian jet fighters of five Australian warplanes flying over eastern Indonesia last week. The Australian planes had proper Indonesian clearances, he said.
He urged Mr Howard to take up Mr Wahid's suggestion of a tripartite commission to solve problems in the region between East Timor, Indonesia and Australia.
Mr Wahid told The Age last weekend that he hoped to visit Canberra, Melbourne and Darwin in late July or August, the first visit by an Indonesian president since 1975.
Mr Howard said Australia and Indonesia had to approach their relationship with goodwill and with an eye to the future. But it had to be recognised that the future would be influenced by the past.
"I think you just take one thing at a time," he said. "The relationship has gone through strain, that's understood. It is recovering, it is repairing, it is rebuilding."
Sydney Morning Herald 05/03/2000
Too Soon To Resume Defence Ties, Says PM
By Michelle Grattan And Lindsay Murdoch
The Prime Minister has said it is too early to talk about renewing Australia's defence ties with Indonesia, but he held out the prospect of visiting Jakarta during this parliamentary term.
In a softer line than he took last week, Mr Howard said the relationship, which had been strained, was recovering, repairing and rebuilding.
Both sides had to approach that process ``with goodwill, with an eye to the future, rather than the past, but also recognising that as you look to the future you are not uninfluenced by the past.
``I'm quite sure that in the fullness of time the relationship will be rebuilt, and will be established on very firm foundations. But it will be a different relationship.''
Mr Howard said he believed he had visited Indonesia more times than any other country as prime minister, and this was sufficient answer to suggestions that he was reluctant to go there ``at the appropriate time in the appropriate circumstances''.
Pressed on whether he would return to Jakarta during this parliamentary term, he said: ``I'm not going to rule out the possibility of going to Indonesia at some time in the current parliamentary term. I expect I probably would. I don't know yet. I don't have any immediate plans.''
Asked about the suggestion from the Opposition Leader, Mr Beazley, who met President Abdurrahman Wahid on Monday, that Australia should resume co-operation with the Indonesian military, Mr Howard said: ``I just think it's too early to start talking about renewing defence ties.
``I'm not saying you mightn't talk about them some time into the future. But I think talking about them at the moment is premature.''
In Jakarta, Mr Beazley said that while any future co-operation between the two countries' armed forces should be just one strand of a more diverse relationship, ``it must be supportive of Indonesia's democratic transition''.
A former defence minister, he pushed the idea of Australian forces undertaking ``co-operative endeavours'' with Indonesian forces, such as efforts to combat piracy at sea.
Relations between the Australian Defence Force and the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) were in effect frozen after Australian troops led multinational forces into East Timor last September.
Most of the senior Indonesian military commanders blamed for the violence have been promoted and still hold key TNI positions. Mr Wahid has pledged a pardon for General Wiranto, former chief of the armed forces, if an Indonesian court finds him guilty of abuses during last year's violence in East Timor .
Mr Beazley, who presented himself in meetings in Jakarta as the likely next prime minister of Australia, ruled out Australian troops resuming training of Indonesia's elite Kopassus forces, blamed for sponsoring much of the violence.
But he said: ``I think you can see from the things I am saying that we need a mature defence relationship which is based on confidence building.
``I think it is also important that it is just a strand of the relationship, not the dominant element of it.''
Mr Beazley said that during his two-day visit to Jakarta he had stressed the need for a new beginning in relations between Indonesia and Australia and the importance of being good neighbours. In his 25-minute meeting with Mr Wahid, the President indicated that he wanted to visit Australia but gave no exact timing.
Mr Beazley criticised Mr Howard for failing to visit Indonesia since Mr Wahid, the country's first democratically elected president, took office in October.
``Our national interests ... dictate that we cannot step back from each other just because the going gets tough,'' he told a breakfast meeting of the Indonesia-Australia Business Council.
``Neither of us can afford to put the other on the shelf for a few years. Indonesia's dignity and self-respect are not diminished by pursuing good relations with Australia. Nor is Australia's dignity and self-respect diminished by our pursuit of good relations with Indonesia.''
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