Subject: Ramos-Horta Chides Jakarta's Gun Boat Diplomacy

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

also: Aid agency criticises Indonesian military presence in Dili Harbour; and Indonesia sends 6 warships to E. Timor territorial waters

Timor's Ramos-Horta chides Jakarta over navy ships

By Joanne Collins

DILI, East Timor, May 18 (Reuters) - East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta on Saturday chided ex-foe Indonesia for sending six naval vessels to the territory's waters, calling it an "ostentatious display" of military might.

Indonesia said on Friday it had dispatched the ships ahead of President Megawati Sukarnoputri's fleeting attendance at events marking East Timor's independence at midnight on Sunday, and that U.N. authorities running the territory had approved the plan.

One of the ships docked here on Friday, startling ordinary Timorese. That transport vessel unloaded Megawati's motorcade on Saturday in front of several hundred people kept under watchful eye by scores of police.

East Timor voted to break free from Indonesia's harsh rule in 1999 and many are still haunted by memories of military abuses.

"We did not agree for Indonesia to bring in six warships. We had discussions with Indonesia and said we would allow one medical vessel to dock," Ramos-Horta told Reuters.

"We are not angry, just puzzled with this ostentatious display of navy hardware that obviously is not a good public relations exercise for Indonesia in the eyes of the Timorese and major powers such as the U.S."

"We have asked Indonesia to move its ships to international waters and we are allowing the medical vessel to stay in our territorial waters as a matter of courtesy," the minister added.

Ramos-Horta later told reporters the six ships entered East Timor waters on Friday and that he believed four had since left.

The incident threatens to overshadow independence celebrations in East Timor, under U.N. control since the 1999 referendum sparked a murderous rampage by Indonesia-backed militias opposed to the ballot.

On Friday, a U.N. official in East Timor said there had been agreement for Jakarta to send four vessels as part of support for Megawati's attendence at celebrations on Sunday night.

The U.N. has said about 1,000 people died during weeks of violence that reduced much of East Timor to ashes in 1999.

More than 200,000 people -- a quarter of the population -- were killed in fighting and by famine and disease that followed Indonesia's 1975 invasion and during its 24 years of occupation.


Ramos-Horta noted that no Indonesian naval vessels were sent to East Timor when Megawati's predecessor, Abdurrahman Wahid, visited Dili in early 2000. During that trip, Wahid apologised to East Timorese for the abuses they suffered during Indonesia's 1975-99 rule.

Indonesian officials said on Friday the ships, as well as about 2,000 troops in neighbouring Indonesian West Timor, were on standby should they be needed.

But Ramos-Horta told a Saturday news conference that U.N. peacekeepers and foreign intelligence services, including the United States, had made their own security assessments and concluded any risk to VIPs to be "extremely low."

"It's obvious before former (U.S.) President Bill Clinton decides to come - they have made a security assessment."

Besides Clinton and Megawati, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Australian Prime Minister John Howard will attend.

Ramos-Horta said the ships would send the wrong message to the United States, which slapped curbs on Indonesia's military after the 1999 bloodshed.

"The U.S. Congress will be furious at a time when we are all making an effort to have Congress lift restrictions on Indonesian defence," said Ramos-Horta, who along with other Timorese leaders has been striving to repair relations with Indonesia.

Indeed, despite Indonesia's 24-year iron rule, Timorese are ready to give Megawati a guarded welcome, saying it shows Jakarta has finally accepted their independence.

In Jakarta, Annan, after meeting Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, played down the confusion and controversy.

"I don't have details on I said I am pleased about President (Megawati) going to East Timor," he told reporters, adding that he was sure "whatever practical difficulties there are...could be wiped out."

A passionate nationalist, Megawati was a leading critic of the decision to allow the territory to split.

She will stay in Dili for several hours and also visit a cemetery for Indonesian soldiers who died in the fighting.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation May 18, 2002

Aid agency criticises Indonesian military presence in Dili Harbour

The Australian head of a major aid organisation has criticised the insensitivity of the Indonesian Government in stationing six warships in Dili Harbour on the eve of East Timor being declared a new nation.

Community Aid Abroad's executive director, Andrew Hewett, is in Dili for independence celebrations and has seen the warships in the harbour.

He has described their presence as unfortunate, given the recent history of violence perpetrated by members of the Indonesian military.

"Just a little bit insensitive," he said. "It doesn't help to create a peaceful and constructive environment.

"But I think the people of East Timor have demonstrated their determination to try to, and the leadership of East Timor demonstrated their determination to build effective and working relationships with the people of Indonesia."

Indonesia sends 6 warships to E. Timor territorial waters

By Christine T. Tjandraningsih

DILI, East Timor, May 18 (Kyodo) - Six Indonesian warships have entered East Timor's territorial waters without permission, just two days before Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri is slated to arrive in Dili to attend the fledgling country's independence celebrations, East Timor's Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Ramos-Horta said Saturday.

At a press conference, Ramos-Horta said that East Timor was alerted at 3:15 p.m. Friday that the warships had entered its territorial waters, and said Jakarta was contacted about the matter at 11:50 p.m.

''Of course, we were very surprised with the movement of the Indonesian military...I think that's excessive prudence on the part of the Republic of Indonesia,'' Ramos-Horta said.

''From the very beginning, we told the Indonesian side that obviously we would agree with their security personnel who come to guarantee the security of President Megawati,'' Ramos-Horta added.

''(But) we did not feel that you need an advanced team to provide security to a head of state comprising six warships.''

Earlier on Friday, Indonesian Defense Force Spokesman Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said six warships and 2,000 troops had been dispatched to West Timor, near the border with East Timor, to secure Megawati's safety while she is in East Timor.

Sjafrie did not say, however, that the warships would enter East Timor's territorial waters, but vowed they ''would not allow East Timorese to touch even a single hair of Megawati.''

According to Ramos-Horta, the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) actually gave Indonesia permission to dock a medical vessel at the Dili Harbor, as Indonesia requested that a vessel to provide medical assistance be nearby if necessary.

''Maybe there was a misunderstanding on their part when we said we want to fully cooperate, so they could send their entire navy force,'' Ramos-Horta told reporters.

He later jokingly said, ''Some military people -- not all -- enjoy showing their new toys. If you are a navy man, why don't you show your new warship. If you are a pilot, why don't you show your new aircraft. If you are an infantry person, why don't you show your new tank.

''The only thing I ask to Indonesia is to make sure that their warships don't run into our two little patrol boats,'' he said, drawing laughs from assembled journalists.

''(East Timor Defense Force Commander Brig. Gen.) Taur Matan Ruak could not be very pleased if one of the warships runs into our two little patrol boats,'' he added.

He said, however, that immediately after the ships entered East Timor's waters, UNTAET had asked the Indonesian side to remove the vessels, and only two were allowed to dock.

As of Saturday morning, according to Chalief Akbar, political and information officer of the Indonesian Mission in East Timor, only one remained in the harbor to unload medical equipment, telecommunication gear, three armored vehicles, four other cars, and an ambulance.

Ramos-Horta also said UNTAET has made an exception for the security personnel of two countries -- the United States and Indonesia -- to allow them to carry weapons.

''A hundred and forty-seven weapons were brought in the (Indonesian) boat,'' Ramos-Horta said. ''That's fine. It is their boat.''

''But our position is that no more than 15 would be allowed at Tasi Tolu,'' he added, referring to the venue of the independence celebrations in the western part of Dili.

UNTAET has also allowed two unarmed Indonesian helicopters to conduct a test flight for emergency evacuation.

''We say do the test flight because we don't want them to feel that we're curtailing their own requirements to ensure the safety and the comfort of the president,'' Ramos-Horta said.

Megawati has been an opponent of East Timor's independence from Indonesia and her decision to attend the ceremony has sparked protests from parliamentarians.

Both Ramos-Horta and Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda expressed hopes that the warship incident will not affect Megawati's visit to East Timor.

''The bigger issue should not be overshadowed by a technical issue,'' Wirajuda told reporters after meeting U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in Jakarta.

''President Megawati has shown political courage and statesmanship since she took office,'' Ramos-Horta said.

''She has made every effort to set the relationship between East Timor and Indonesia on the right course and this incident was not, I'm sure, something that the foreign minister (of Indonesia) was unaware of,'' he added.

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