Statement by H. E. Ambassador Celso Amorim Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP)

Question of East Timor

(check against delivery)

New York, 2 July 1998

Mr. Chairman

I take the floor on behalf of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), which is formed by Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and Sao Tomé and Principe, as well as Brazil, which currently holds its Presidency.

2. I wish to start by referring to the adoption of the Final Declaration of the Council of Ministers of the CPLP, held in Salvador - the capital of the State of Bahia - in Brazil, on the 18th of July 1997, which has been circulated as document A/51/954. Paragraph 8 of that Ministerial Declaration, which welcomed the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Bishop Ximenes Belo and Mr. Ramos Horta, reaffirmed the support of the CPLP countries for the self-determination of the timorese people and defended an internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor, in full respect for the legitimate rights and aspirations of its population and in conformity with international law.

3. Nearly one year after this Declaration was adopted, the prospects for a solution to the timorese question can be said to have undergone a considerable qualitative change. We were particularly encouraged by the news that President Habibie of Indonesia signed a decree for the release of fifteen East Timorese political prisoners as well as by the greater internal discussion on this matter.

4. We welcome the intention expressed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on June the 10th to remain actively engaged in the search for an early settlement of the Timor problem. Only one week before that, the SecretaryGeneral had addressed a letter to President Habibie assuring him of his commitment to work with his Government and with the Government of Portugal in the effort to find, as early as possible, a just, comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution.

5. Recently President Fernando Henrique Cardoso sent a message to President Habibie of Indonesia acknowledging the important steps he has taken to reduce tensions in his country, and expressing confidence in the positive impact such measures can have on the Timor issue. On the same occasion President Cardoso supported the resumption of negotiations between Portugal and Indonesia under the auspices of the Secretary-General, while manifesting keen interest in the fate of a people to whom we remain linked by strong ties.

6. During our discussions today, we wish to continue placing emphasis on the new opportunities for peace and understanding which have come into being in recent weeks. We are aware of the many hurdles that must still be overcome and will remain attentive regarding aspects such as the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in East Timor. The liberation of additional political prisoners, in particular, will continue to be eagerly awaited. At the same time we cannot fail to deplore repressive acts which have tarnished the positive trend of the past few weeks.

Mr. President,

7. The Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries hereby reaffirms its commitment to the full exercise of the right to self determination in East Timor. As conditions improve for a fruitful dialogue - which must necessarily involve representatives of the people of East Timor - the CPLP will be ready to contribute, as appropriate, in the furthering of the aforementioned objectives.

Thank You Mr. Chairman

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