Subject: XG: On the occasion of the Admission of Timor-Leste to UN

Statement by His Excellency President Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

On the occasion of the Admission of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the United Nations

57th Session, New York, 27 September 2002

Your Excellency, UN Secretary-General, Dr. Kofi Annan,

Your Excellency, President of the General Assembly, Dr. Jan Kavan,

Your Excellency, Prime Minister of Portugal, Dr. Durão Barroso,

Distinguished Permanent Representatives of UN Member States,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Xanana speaks before General Assembly. UN Photo.

Timor-Leste was, since the 60’s on the list of non-self governing territories with the right to exercise self-determination and independence, thus corresponding with the aspirations of freedom for our people.

Since the 60’s many countries achieved their independence.

The universal principles, enshrined in the UN Charter, were the guiding code of our action, both within the resistance inside the country and in the long path that the East Timorese journeyed, with confidence and determination, side by side with the peoples of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tome and Principe and activists from around the entire world,

Human Rights and the fundamental right of people to decide their own destiny, are an expression of the struggle for the emancipation of every human being, as an individual, as part of a society and, naturally, as a people - the Timorese people that we are proud to be.

Since 1975, it was in this grand hall of peoples of the entire world, in this hall where peoples were and are heard through their representatives, in this hall where we also had the privilege of attending the Millennium Assembly, that Timor-Leste was present in the minds and attitudes, in political debates and in geo-strategic discussions and in Resolutions adopted until 1983.

In this home of the community of Nations, Timorese diplomats led by the ‘guerrilla of diplomacy’, Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta, Noble Peace Prize Laureate, Heads of States and Governments, Ambassadors of friendly nations and the international solidarity, roamed its corridors and worked tirelessly.

The Security Council, the Committee of 24, the Commission for Human Rights and others, kept their doors open to listen to the voice of the people of Timor-Leste. And went on during the terms of office of Kurt Waldheim, Perez de Cuellar, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Kofi Annan.

Your Excellency, Mr. Secretary-General, you decisively took into your hands not only the suffering but above all the aspirations of our People.

People such as Francesc Vendrell and Tamrat Samuel who worked from the outset on the question of Timor-Leste, and later, Ambassador Jamsheed Marker, as staff of this institution deserve our appreciation. They were an example of dedication promoting dialogue in search for a solution. The 5th May 1999 Accord was the outcome of this effort in defence of the Charter on the Freedom of Peoples.

Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President of the General Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is always said that it is important to start a process, because it entails the definition of intentions and objectives, but the true value of an action and work, above all in a struggle, lies in its results.

The popular consultation carried out by UNAMET, lead by Ian Martin, was the first democratic and conscientious act of our People.

It was conscientious because it was conducted in a totally adverse and uncontrollable climate; it was conscientious because, again, it revealed the courage of the People of Timor-Leste to the world; it was conscientious because our People rejected violence, rejected the idea of conflict between brothers and rejected the idea of a civil war.

Our people strove for more than two decades for their freedom. The use of violence and the perpetuation of the conflict were not of their high concern because the objectives of a long and difficult struggle had already been achieved.

30th August 1999 was the day of liberation, it was the day of democracy.

Since then and with UNTAET, lead by Dr. Sérgio Vieira de Mello, all was done to strengthen the democratic awareness of our People, as the basis for genuine independence. As a consequence, on 30th August 2001, the first elections were held for the Constituent Assembly and, later, in April 2002, the presidential elections were held.

Mr. Secretary-General, your presence and that of more than 90 official delegations from around the world, including the current President of the General Assembly Dr. Jan Kavan, then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, made 20th May 2002, a memorable day in our history. The United Nations and the international community did justice to the international principles and the universal values that legitimise the existence of nations and peoples, by recognising their inalienable right to self-determination and national independence.

Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President of the General Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We feel greatly honoured and moved by the statesmanship and the fact that Portugal, Indonesia and Australia jointly proposed the draft Resolution that will admit us as the 191st member of the United Nations.

I have the great privilege of representing here, today, before this distinguished General Assembly of the United Nations, a small people, of great dignity and extraordinary bravery in the past, driven by total commitment to the present and filled with great confidence in the future.

Here present with us, as our special guest, is our most beloved D. Ximenes Belo, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Despite his wish to be here today to share this moment with us, our dear friend D. Basílio do Nascimento had, out of a sense of responsibility, to remain in our country.

I represent a People who have already defined their vision for development for the next 20 years. In it they expressed their most profound aspirations in relation to the eradication of poverty and illiteracy, in relation to better standards of living which every citizen has a right to and in relation to their own involvement in the process.

We are aware of the fact that there will be no economic and social development in our country, if we do not establish the most elementary bases of democracy. The role of women, together with a strong civil society, is a must so that participatory democracy at local government level ensures social justice and the right of citizens.

More than just coming here as the Head of State, the honour of being here derives from representing the courage of women and the uplifted spirit of the sacrifice of men, the determination of the youths and the smile of the children of the crocodile nation. As it is told in our legend, we are today transformed and treading firmly on our land and sailing safely in our sea, for we are now identified as a sovereign and independent nation, as a member of the international community.

Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President of the General Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peace and stability are what our people most yearn for after emerging from decades of independent struggles and, most recently from more than two decades of suffering.

Only a tolerant and just society can create a climate of much needed stability and only a tolerant and just society may know how to love peace. Timor-Leste expresses its concern over the increasing violence in the Middle East. Timor-Leste will not point fingers or attempt to find culprits. We prefer to believe there is a solution, that a solution can be sought in this conflict that has already shed so much blood and taken so many lives.

The Palestinian people have the right to self-determination and independence, to peace and dignity. In our point of view, to deny the right to freedom, peace and dignity to this extraordinary people is neither moral nor ethical.

Timor-Leste and the State of Israel established diplomatic relationships at ambassadorial level and they will explore forms of co-operation for their mutual benefit. Timor-Leste declares itself ready to recognise the State of Palestine and to establish diplomatic relationships at ambassadorial level with the legitimate authority of the Palestinian people.

Western Sahara is yet another case, which is regrettably excluded in most major international forum. Timor-Leste shares with our Saharaui brothers a remarkable amount of historic dates. The inalienable right of the Saharaui people to self-determination was recognised by the UN eight years before Timor-Leste’s. Yet, whilst the case of Timor-Leste is currently assessed as a UN success story, the case of Western Sahara continues to be stalled by successive obstacles.

In this moment of the reaffirmation of our freedom and independence, we wish to urge for the resumption the UN Plan to hold a referendum for self-determination in Western Sahara. We can only put an end to this unjust situation if a fair, free and democratic consultation is held such as that in Timor-Leste.

The People of Timor-Leste also express from this rostrum, its solidarity towards the process in Afghanistan and, in particular to President Hamid Karzai, and extend our wishes for success in such a challenging period.

Recently, Timor-Leste attended the 3rd Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government in Fiji. This participation increased greater awareness of our need to actively participate in groups of developing countries that share common problems, similar advantages and backgrounds. There is much we can learn and exchange with sub-regional groups within an organisation as the ACP.

Regardless of our relationship with the Pacific, we are geographically close to southeast Asia and also feel proud of being part of this region. Over the past couple of years, we have intensified our contacts in the region. Today, we are most pleased to testify to the committed work and unwavering engagement our Asian brothers have accorded to the rebuilding of Timor-Leste, to the Peace Keeping Forces and to the numerous professional and skilled demands of the three United Nations Missions deployed in our country.

We have recently participated in the Brunei ASEAN Ministerial meeting and will continue to participate as invited observers to the organisation’s initiatives.

Last July, we became full members of CPLP the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, a group of countries that share a common language, history and culture which contributed to the shaping of our resistance identity. This is also the family of nations to which we are bound by ties of affection.

We join the world in its concerns for intolerance between cultures and religions, for the systematic use of violence which can not but breed misunderstanding and hatred, further distancing people and constrain dialogue.

We join the voice of the world on the war on terrorism. Despite the enormous demands on our process and the developing nature of our country, we will not ease our vigilance and determination in uprooting extremism and radicalism that favour or contribute to terror against innocents. Timor-Leste shall never be a sanctuary for those who terrorise innocent civilians, be it on behalf of religion, ideology or any other disguise.

We join the world in its commitment to fight against people smuggling and the trafficking of arms and drugs. Transnational networks focussing on such repugnant activities have particularly affected our region. We will not permit that our territory or our exclusive economic zone be used to perpetuate the grief caused by the ambition of a few who hide behind profits made out of the misery of so many.

We join the world in its commitment to adopt comprehensive policies towards the democratisation of societies, the respect for civic and political rights, the need for good governance, the involvement of civil society and the adoption of stern policies against corruption.

We join the world in its concern for the misery, hunger and disease in developing countries, which affect more than half of the planet’s population.

There must be a steadfast commitment by the developing countries to adopt correct policies to fight poverty. However, other important factors must be taken into account. We join with those calling: - on the rich countries of the North to increase their contribution to overseas development assistance to at least 0.7% of their GNP; - on a write off the debt of the poor countries as an unavoidable measure; - on the acceptance of the re-scheduling of debts of the most indebted countries, so that part of the debt is invested in education and public health; - on a greater access to the market of the rich countries, through the lifting of trade barriers, facilitation and simplifying of customs’ rules and regulations. The European Union co-operation policy of “everything but guns” is an example to be followed by rich countries. But the policy on agricultural subsidies has placed poorer countries in great disadvantage and continued poverty.

Mr. Secretary- General, Mr. President of the General Assembly, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have adopted a policy of reconciliation between all Timorese; reconciliation that will be based on justice. Notwithstanding, to honour justice, our effort is focussed on the eradication of all sentiments of hatred and revenge, because a sound reconciliation will only exist when there is a greater social justice in the Timorese society.

Our destiny is to live ion peace. This means that we must, form the outset, establish the foundations for a new society, where harmony, tolerance and solidarity prevail in the mind and spirit of every citizen.

We are aware that we will only serve the interest of our people if we honour our international commitments, by being a signatory to the relevant Conventions and Treaties which not only safeguard our sovereignty and interests but also respect the sovereignty and interests of other peoples and states, in particular, of our region. I refer, in particular to the UN Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and those on the use of chemical or nuclear weapons and land mines.

As the fist country of the millennium and given the historic process leading to independence, the Maubere People is committed to social and economic development, to strengthening its culture and traditions and to be actively engaged in a policy of dialogue, co-operation and friendship with all the peoples of the world.

The People of Timor-Leste firmly believe in a future where peace will reign the world. The People of Timor-Leste know with conviction that peace has a price and that price is the freedom of people, tolerance between societies of different cultures and beliefs and the co-operation and friendship between peoples.

The World Peace Day, 21st September, was the dream come true of one man, and it shook the conscience of today’s world, where humanity lives side by side with insecurity. We believe that peace is the most sacred objective of humanity.

We urge all human beings, from the largest urban centres to remote farms and plantations, from social and professional organisations, artists and athletes, to civil society and business people, to groups in conflict, to politicians and cabinet members, to, together, concentrate greater energy to the need for peace in the world.

I wish to put forth a proposal to declare a World Peace Week, from 21st to 27th each year. During that week, debates, conferences and workshops to discuss peace would be held throughout the world. Peace would no longer be a theoretical concept but rather an issue for in-depth reflection on relevant and pertinent themes such as poverty, democracy, human rights and justice. Thus, individuals would truly comprehend that genuine peace can only emerge from the peace within each citizen.

To end, I wish to pay tribute to my people.

The international community, politicians and academics often mention our country as “as a UN success story”. The commitment of the international community is unquestioned, namely that of the United Nations and its bodies, the General Assembly and Security Council. This collective success is equally due and recognised in the role and engagement of the UN specialised Agencies, the World Bank, IMF and ADB, as well as the hundreds of UNVs and international NGOs, in particular in the emergency and humanitarian period.

Today, we wish to express our recognition and profound gratitude for the commitment that you made, and the action you carried and continue to carry out.

At the core of this success, were, above all, our People. By rejecting to embark on the path of violence, even when provoked, by exercising their rights in a democratic and civic manner, even if it meant risking their own lives, by looking towards the future hoping for the certainty of freedom, our people proved to the world to be worthy of the respect that we all owe and know, and thus gain the credibility and admiration of all.

We owe the success to which you will all committed, to the people of Timor-Leste.

Thank you very much.

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