Subject: Official says Indonesia's Timor Gap stance harms West Timor interests

Official says Indonesia's Timor Gap stance harms West Timor interests

May 19, 2004 7:10am Asia Intelligence Wire

Pos Kupang, Kupang: It seems that the issue of Timor Gap, which is still currently being fought for by the community and the provincial government of Nusa Tenggara Timur [NTT -Eastern Lesser Sundas] (Pemprop NTT) through the Timor Gap Working Group and the West Timor Concern Foundation (YPTB), is being blocked by the Department of Foreign Affairs (Deplu). Deplu continues to regard the Timor Gap issue as having been finalised. In fact, the impact of the exploration of undersea riches in the Timor Gap will be felt by the West Timor Community. [passage omitted]

"We have had discussions with Deplu. In fact our discussions have gone as high as the DPR [People's Representative Council], and to discussions at the commission level. But Deplu people always stifle the issue and say that the matter of Timor Gap has been finalised. In fact at the moment we are asking for tripartite discussions between Indonesia, East Timor and Australia about the Timor Gap. At the very least, oil exploration activities in the Timor Gap could have a positive impact on West Timor," said Yani [Karel Yani Mboeik, Head of NTT Commission A]. [passage omitted]

He said that the Timor Gap agreement made by Indonesia with Australia prioritised political interests, which actually were very economically damaging to the community in West Timor.

Yani said that there were indications that the agreement made in the past was more aimed at efforts to seek Australia's support for East Timor's integration into Indonesia. So, Yani continued, at the time the country was put in hock to gain recognition of East Timor's integration into Indonesia. [passage omitted]

Yani said that the Timor Gap agreement made by Indonesia with Australia was very economically damaging to the West Timor community because the territorial borders used the continental shelf. In fact, he continued, Indonesia determined the limits of its borders based on the exclusive economic zone (ZEE). "If you use the continental shelf, our jurisdiction is only 80 km from the shoreline, whilst Australia's is 400 km from its shoreline. Yet if you use the ZEE, the Timor Sea can be divided in two. In that way, a large part of the oil reserves would be in West Timor," he said.

Yani questioned why the central government would make an agreement such as this. What was ironic, said Yani, was that the agreement allowed Indonesian fishermen to take fish from the surface of the sea (ZEE), but the riches under the sea belonged to Australia.

Source: Kupang Pos web site, Kupang, in Indonesian 19 May 04

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