Subject: DN: Xanana confident (interview)

BBC BBC Monitoring International Reports

May 20, 2003


Text of interview by Joao Pedro Fonseca with Timorese President Xanana Gusmao: " The Timorese people are able to wait'" by Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias web site on 20 May

The East Timorese president is disappointed about what he thought could be done to improve the life of his people. There have been many difficulties but he has the will and hopes to change things. He believes Timor is no longer a violent country.

Diario de Noticias How would you describe the situation in East Timor a year after independence? What is your assessment?

Gusmao I would say, in general terms, the balance is very positive. But in terms of meeting the overall needs of the population I fear we are not yet ready. It has only been one year since independence. In my opinion, it is natural that we have made mistakes, in general, I repeat - the balance has been positive.

Diario de Noticias When you were fighting in the mountains, you dreamed of an independent East Timor, did you see it differently? Is reality harsher?

Gusmao The problem is that at that time we did not imagine there could be independence. But it is true that I had an ideal, which I still have: to be a successful political opposition, to have a garden, a decent house, running water, electricity - the basic conditions. But in truth we did not anticipate all the problems we have had to face.

Diario de Noticias Looking back at the past year of independence, what do you consider positive and negative?

Gusmao I would not talk of positive and negative. I rather talk of a process which has been evolving along democratic principles, human rights principles, and this has been very good. As for negative - well, I would not say negative but I must say that 4 December was somewhat bad, however it was a very exceptional case. I can also talk in terms of shortfalls. An example would be perhaps the lack of an accurate understanding of the needs of our population. This means that next year we will have to change a little this understanding.

Diario de Noticias Do you think that the great social and economic leap can only be taken when the oil revenue materializes?

Gusmao I don't think so. Nor do I want people to think that. I believe we must think more in terms of good policies, not only opening up to new investment but also an economic policy starting with an overall plan to increase productivity, with mechanisms for the sale and distribution and treatment of products. We should focus more on these aspects. We should not at this stage get into an attitude of dependence on oil. It would not be good for the country.

Diario de Noticias Is this dependence a risk for Timor?

Gusmao Yes, of course. A major risk we must avoid.

Diario de Noticias Has the violence of the last 20 years been overcome?

Gusmao Timor is a calmer country. Violence has been overcome. But obviously there are still violent groups. You see, the people are frustrated, so more violent groups emerge. Only a good economic policy can meet the day-to-day aspirations of the people. The people are able to wait. I must stress this, the Timorese people are able to wait. The people understand that the situation is difficult and that things move slowly. The problem is that every day people asks us leaders questions for which we do not have the answers. We cannot define, we cannot inform. It is frustrating. Talking about the violence again, I should say that the atmosphere is not bad.

Diario de Noticias There is the normal criminality of an unstable social situation?

Gusmao Yes, there are groups here and there. It is inevitable. But there will come a point when things will improve. Sometimes there is a problem, I go there and things were already sorted, then I leave and they tell me the problem is back. These are isolated cases.

Gusmao We are not on the road to war, we are on the road to peace.

Source: Diario de Noticias web site, Lisbon, in Portuguese 20 May 03

) BBC Monitoring

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