Subject: ET NGO statement on ET-Australia boundary talks
The following statement is being released at a press conference in Dili on the morning of 29 September, 2004.
East Timor NGO Forum
29 September 2004
TIMOR-LESTE CIVIL SOCIETY DEMANDS FAIR BOUNDARY
Civil society and people in Timor-Leste, including the NGOs issuing this statement, continue to follow the negotiations between our government and Australia with great interest. We believe that the issues being discussed in Darwin this week are among the most important for the future of our nation.
Based on what we have been able to learn about the negotiations process, we urge Australia to do the following:
1. Respect the national sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, negotiating with our government as an equal partner and not belittling us with offers of "Christmas presents." Listen and respond to our national right to establish the boundaries of our newly-independent nation.
2. Although it appears that Timor-Leste's negotiators are considering a "creative solution" which would put off a boundary settlement for many decades, we continue to believe that a permanent boundary, both for the water column and the seabed, is essential for completing our struggle for national independence. The boundary should be based on current international legal principles, along the median line between our two coasts, with lateral boundaries decided according to current international law.
3. Return to the international dispute resolution processes for maritime boundaries of the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
4. Do not involve our future in your nation's politics. Over the past six months, we have been disappointed to see Timor-Leste's rights used by Australian politicians for domestic political purposes. Our rights are based on international law and moral principles, not on Australian public opinion polls. We are struck by the contrast between last year, when you refused to meet more than once every six months, and now, just before your election, when you want to meet every week.
5. Respect Timor-Leste's right to develop our resources on a timetable that is best for our people. We are dismayed by Australia's support for Woodside's hunger to extract Sunrise gas as fast as possible.
6. Stop exploration of Laminaria-Corallina and other fields in disputed territory, including issuing of new licenses. Place all revenues received from such fields in an escrow account, to be apportioned between our nations when an agreement is completed.
HAK Association, Haburas Foundation, La'o Hamutuk (East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis), FOKUPERS, LAIFET (Labor Advocacy Institute of East Timor), Timor-Leste Community Radio Association (ARKTL), The Mirror of the People (LABEH), Forum Tau Matan (FTM), Timor-Leste Students Association.
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