21/05/2002
Press Release
DSG/SM/162



DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL'S REMARKS AT OPENING OF UNITED NATIONS/EAST TIMOR


HEADQUARTERS EXHIBITION, 20 MAY


Following are the remarks of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette at the opening of the United Nations/East Timor Exhibition, Headquarters, 20 May:


Today -- 20 May 2002 -- is a day of great joy.  On this day, East Timor has become an independent nation. 


We congratulate the people of East Timor and welcome them to the family of nations.  We join with them in celebrating a new beginning.


The road to nationhood has been long.  It has required difficult decisions and severe sacrifices, throughout which the East Timorese displayed exceptional courage.  We must never forget those who dreamed of this day, but did not live to see it happen.


Throughout the journey to independence, the international community, and the United Nations in particular, have played an essential role -- from providing a long-standing forum for negotiations, to helping establish the framework that allowed the East Timorese to express their will for self-determination, to the establishment of a United Nations transitional administration to prepare East Timor for nationhood.


The United Nations takes pride in its partnership with the East Timorese, which is documented in the exhibition we are here to open today.  Many of the contributions in this display have come from those who served with the two United Nations missions in East Timor -- the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).  We at United Nations Headquarters pay tribute to the outstanding work of our colleagues who served in those missions.  And we pay tribute to the peacekeepers and UN staff who died while trying to help East Timor in its hour of need. 


Above all, we pay tribute to the steadfast commitment of the East Timorese people in rebuilding their country.  It is thanks to them, first and foremost, that the transitional process from United Nations administration to full independence was completed in just two and a half years.


As we look back today, let us remember that this is a day for the people of East Timor to look to the future –- a future of which they themselves will be the architects.  The United Nations family will continue to do all it can to support them on the journey ahead.


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