Subject: Alkatiri: Statement to Security Council Apr 26 2002

Briefing to Security Council on 26 April by Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri

Mr. President, and through you, the members of the Security Council,

After a quarter of a century of struggle and resistance we are now only 23 days from achieving our objective, the international recognition of the Independence of East Timor. That this will be achieved on 20 May is a tribute to our people and their, contributions to the process, but also to the international community and the United Nations, who kept the idea of an independent East Timor alive in the darkest hour of the struggle.

The support of the Security Council has been fundamental over the past two and a half years, as UNTAET and the people of East Timor worked together to restore security and stability and establish the foundations for an independent government.

It was not always easy, as there was no blueprint or manual on how to govern a country, we learned as we went along.

We are now, however, at a stage when East Timor is ready to govern itself. Since September 2001, an entirely East Timorese Government has been exercising executive authority and whilst we are facing a major challenge to develop our public and private institutions, as well as their social and communitarian counterparts, the fundamental structures and institutions of the country are now in place. Government and civil society have been working hard together to produce our first national plan, with the objective of establishing programme to alleviate poverty and promote the development of East Timor. We have a clear idea of our priorities after the broad public consultation that preceded our planning process, and the open cabinet meetings that the Council of Ministers has been conducting in each of the thirteen districts of East Timor, where the population was able to relay its preoccupations directly to the Government. We are concerned that our style of governance should be seen as representative, in as much as we are the elected representatives of the people, but also participatory, in order tcr directly involve the people in the decision making process.

The present leadership of the country has a duty to live up to the demands of two major expectations, the first is the expectation of the people that the Government will channel their energies and creative ability into the development of the country; the second is the expectation of the international community that the government will do all it can to convert the aid that is being provided into investments that will benefit future generations,. and so increase the credibility of the country, that it can continue to deserve the confidence and support of the international community.

As a result of the process of consultation, Government attention will be concentrated on four major areas;

* Education, and the eradication of illiteracy, which currently stands at around 55%. * Health, with particular emphasis on the flight against endemic diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, malnutrition and the provision of the basics of public health including clean water and sanitation. Another priority is the campaign that has already started for AIDS awareness and education.

* Housing.

* Agriculture and its development potential. This is particularly important to halt the exodus of the rural population to the city and indeed, reverse this trend.

Our Budget will be a clear reflection of these priorities that were identified in the national plan, with a particular emphasis on service delivery and the alleviation of poverty. The final budget will be approved on 30 May.

I would also mention that the President-elect, the SRSG and myself had a long and fruitful meeting recently and we are in broad agreement on how to go forward. Both the President-elect and myself share the same objectives, the well-being and advancement of the people of East Timor, and we will work together with the Presidency, Government and Parliament to achieve these opals.

We will, however, still be relying on the support of the United Nations and the international community to consolidate the progress that has been made so far, and guarantee the stability of the country after independence.

I refer to the need for assessed funding for the 100 core functions that are vital for the continued functioning of the government and donor funding for the 200 additional functions that were identified, with the assistance of the goals, as necessary for social and economic development and poverty reduction.

In order to implement the national development plan, international support is critical over the next three years until the first revenues can be expected from the gas and petroleum developments in the Timor Sea. These revenues will be considered as a credit by the future generations of East Timor to the current generation, which will be paid back by a special development fund for education, health and infrastructure.

We will be applying to join the World Bank and the Asian Development bank and our application to the International Monetary Fund is currently being processed.

We are working closely with the World Bank to establish a mechanism to channel donor funds to a budget support facility that will help to bridge the gap between the budget expenditures and forecast revenues over the n ext three years.

We are actively engaged with the Australian Government and the oil companies operating in the Timor Sea to resolve outstanding issues, and expect to sign the treaty relating to the area of cooperation on, or shortly after independence.

But these measures to ensure political and economic stability go hand in hand with the question of internal and external security. The East Timor Defence and Police forces are not yet ready to undertake these functions and there will be a need for a continued UN presence with an executive role in these two areas.

We are aware of the importance of signing the SOFA/SOMA and the agreements on police and military responsibilities. These are of fundamental importance in defining the coordination between the Government and the SRSG of the new mission, in order to avoid the danger of parallel command structures in the same country.

The security of our country is also linked to the establishment of good relations with our neighbours, and indeed with all the nations of the world. One important step will be the negotiation of our maritime boundaries. Budget restrictions will, of necessity, limit our diplomatic representations, but we encourage your diplomats to visit East Timor and see for themselves the challenges that exist for the future, but also the considerable progress that has already been made with your generous assistance. We are aware that various countries have expressed an interest in establishing diplomatic relations with East Timor on Independence Day and we are studying how it will be humanly possible to bring this about in the time that it available.

To conclude, what are our priorities?

* Ensure that the Government's programmes and policies reflect the aspirations of our people and are executed with the maximum efficiency and transparency.

* Maintain the high standards of human and social rights that were instituted during the transition period, counting on the active participation and support of civil society. Of particular significance will be the continuing promotion of equality and women's rights and the campaign against domestic violence.

* Plan for integrated and sustainable development with the help of the UN Agencies, the IMF and the World Bank.

* Consolidate the very real advances that were made over the past two and a half years, with special emphasis on capacity and institution building.

* Encourage a spirit of tolerance and reconciliation within the community, allied to the application of economic, social and political justice.

I would like to confirm our full support for the Secretary-General's recommendations for the successor mission and commit my government to working closely with the new SRSG to make this new mission as much a success as UNTAET.

We have come a long way together during East Timor's transition to independence and special thanks are due to the Security Council for its continued support, to the Secretary-General who, in spite of his heavy load of responsibilities, has always been available for advice and consultation, and of course, to our friend the SRSG, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of East Timor.

Thank you for the opportunity of addressing the Council.


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