Subject: IT: Diplomatic Ties w/ ET

Source: The Irish Times Date: February 1st 2003



Culminating a unique and friendly relationship between two small countries a world apart but with similar historic experiences, ireland and East Timor yesterday established diplomatic relations at a ceremony in the Irish Mission to the United Nations in New York.

With East Timor's Foreign Minister, Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta, looking on, the Irish and East Timorese permanent representatives to the UN, Mr. Richard Ryan and Mr. Jose Luis Guterres, signed a joint communique on the exchange of ambassadors.

The Irish ambassador to Timor Leste, as the former Portuguese colony is officially known, will be Mr. Hugh Swift, whi is ambassador to Singapore.

The East Timorese ambassador to Ireland will likely be Ms. Pascoela Barreto who has lived in Portugal since 1970. Last July she was appointed ambassador to Lisbon, becoming the first envoy to represent the UN's newest nation.

In an interview, Mr. Ramos-Horta paid tribute to irish activists, friends and politicians who had supported East Timor's quest for independence from Indonesia.

He singled out Mr. Tom Hyland. founder of the East Timor Ireland Solidarity Campaign, and Mr. David Andrews, who as foreign minister galvanised support in the EU for East Timor after witnessing violence in the capital Dili by pro-Indonesian militias.

With 300 East Timor residents-nationals, Ireland has the third largest number of East Timorese abroad, after Australia and Portugal.

Mr. Ramos-Horta said they had discovered that nation-building " is far more complex and fraustrating than any of us expected". A functioning justice system was vital to strengthen democratic institutions and attract foreign investment, but the courts were barely functioning because of a lack of qualified personel, he said.

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