Press Release

Security Council

4522nd Meeting (AM)



Council Hears 23 Speakers; Suspended Meeting to Continue Next Week

History was about to confound the sceptics who had thought it improbable that East Timor would become a viable State in two-and-a- half years, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council this morning.

Speaking during a Council meeting that included East Timor's President-elect Xanana Gusmao and Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri, the Secretary-General said that since the tragic events of September 1999, which had followed the democratic decision of the East Timorese to seek independence, the United Nations had worked hard to build a sustainable national administration in close partnership with Member States and the territory's people. 

Stressing that the international community would have a crucial role in helping consolidate East Timor’s new institutions, he expressed the hope that the Council would approve the detailed proposals for a follow-on peacekeeping presence in East Timor.  The new mission would provide key support in the critical areas of public administration, law and order, and external security, he added.

President-elect Gusmao said the need to enhance the capacity and transparency of political institutions and the administrative apparatus was critical, as was appropriate development in the area of law and order.  To maintain and sustain security and stability, those two intertwined processes must be nurtured with careful attention.

He said East Timor would face a real test after the declaration of independence on 20 May, and support from the international community would be essential for some time to come.  With very limited resources, the Government was likely to face extreme difficulties in implementing its programmes, unless financial support and appropriate expertise was forthcoming from the international community.

Chief Minister Alkatiri said that since September 2001, an entirely East Timorese Government had been exercising executive authority.  The present leadership had to fulfil two major expectations.  The first was the people's expectation that the Government would channel its energies and creative ability into development.  The second was the international community's expectation that the Government would do all it could to convert aid into investments that would benefit future generations.

He said Government attention would concentrate on four major areas:  education, health, housing, and agriculture as well as its development potential.  The budget would be a clear reflection of the priorities identified in the national plan, with particular emphasis on service delivery and the alleviation of poverty.  The final budget would be approved on 30 May, he added.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s report, Hedi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said Government structures in East Timor were not yet fully functional or financially sustainable.  Significant benefits from the Timor Sea were projected to flow into the economy in some three years.  Until then, budgetary support from the international community was imperative.

Pointing out that the report provided a detailed plan to downsize the peacekeeping force in four phases over two years, he stressed the need for material and financial support for the full establishment of the East Timorese police and military.  In addition, there was a need to continue supporting institutions and structures of governance and to put into effect the programme for the medium and long-term development of the new nation.

The Council also heard from members Mauritius, Colombia, United States, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Singapore, Mexico, Syria, France, Norway, Guinea, Cameroon, China, Ireland and the Russian Federation.

Other speakers today included the representatives of Portugal, Spain (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Australia and Japan.

Today’s meeting began at 10:22 a.m. and was suspended at 1:35 p.m.  It will resume next week on a date to be announced.


When the Council met this morning, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) (document S/2002/432 and Add.1), which provides an overview of developments since his last report and contains detailed proposals regarding the mandate and structure of a new mission, the United Nations Mission of Support for East Timor (UNMISET).  When the mandate of UNTAET ends, that Mission will ensure that the gains made over the last two-and-a-half years are consolidated.

The UNMISET would be mandated to:  provide assistance that is crucial for the stability of East Timor and the viability of its emergent public administration; assist in the development of a law enforcement agency in East Timor operating in accordance with international human rights standards; and contribute to the maintenance of external and internal security.

The Mission, headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, would include a civilian component, a police component and a military component.  The Office of the Special Representative would include the units usually required in multidimensional peacekeeping operations, as well as focal points for gender affairs and HIV/AIDS. 

The report notes that planning for the successor mission to UNTAET was undertaken by a number of working groups, both in the field and through the integrated mission task force in New York over the past 12 months.  It has also been the subject of extensive consultations with all the stakeholders.  The plan provides for a continued and appropriately reduced United Nations peacekeeping mission in the post-independence period to ensure the security and stability of the nascent State.  It provides a milestone-based approach towards the Mission's gradual withdrawal over a two-year period.

An addendum to the report provides, among other things, a readout of the results of East Timor's first presidential elections.  In all, 364,780 valid votes were cast, of which Xanana Gusmao received 82.69 per cent and Fansciso Xavier do Amaral 17.31 per cent.  Only 13,768 ballots were invalid.

The addendum also provides the estimated cost of establishing UNMISET -- the total cost for the 12-month period from 1 July to 30 June 2003 would amount to some $316.1 million gross.  A breakdown of the estimated requirements by main categories of expenditure is contained in an annex to the addendum.


Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN said a historic moment for East Timor and the United Nations was being approached.  Since the tragic events of September 1999 which had followed the democratic decision of the East Timorese to seek independence, the United Nations had worked hard to build a sustainable national administration in close partnership with the Member States and the East Timorese themselves.  While it might have seemed improbable to some that East Timor would become a viable State within two-and-a-half years, history was about to confound the skeptics.

Credit should go first and foremost to the East Timorese, who had risen to every challenge that had confronted them, he said.  There were still daunting challenges ahead, but with determined leadership and a strong constitutional foundation, the future could be faced with confidence.

The international community could also take pride in the contribution it had made, he said.  Peace had been secured and a sense of normality had returned.  Children were in schools; roads were being built; and health services were being established.  The citizens had turned out in great numbers to vote, and increasing numbers of refugees had returned.  This was all just a start.  The Government faced enormous tasks and must not be left alone.  The international community must ensure that its investment did not go to waste.  It would have a crucial role to play in helping consolidate East Timor’s new institutions.  That was why he hoped the Council would approve the detailed proposals for a follow-on peacekeeping presence. 

The new Mission would provide key support in three critical areas:  public administration, law and order, and external security, he said.  That support would be reduced gradually over two years.  He was confident that the Timorese would develop their own sources of revenue and would manage their resources prudently, but financial and budgetary assistance would continue to be needed.  Moreover, sustainable growth would require investment from the private sector, both domestic and foreign.  He urged Member States to encourage it. 

He stressed the importance of close cooperation with East Timor’s neighbours, including with Indonesia.  Confidence was vital, and the best way to provide it was to continue the strong partnership that had brought East Timor this far.  He hoped to be present in person for the independence ceremonies on 19 and 20 May, which would mark the climax of East Timor’s historic struggle.  He was proud of the part the United Nations had played in the struggle.  He pledged that this would mark not an end but a beginning.  The United Nations stood ready to play its full part alongside the independent nation of East Timor.

HEDI ANNABI, Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, introducing the Secretary-General’s report, said the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Government were beginning to function, with East Timorese civil servants and line managers serving in all sectors.  Although still fragile, the basic elements of State and public administration were in place.

Notwithstanding the significant progress made, he said, elements set out in UNTAET’s mandate had not yet been fully achieved.  Government structures were not yet fully functional or financially sustainable.  Significant benefits from the Timor Sea were projected to flow into the economy in some three years.  Until then, it was imperative that the international community continue to provide budgetary support to the young Timorese public administration.

He said that the plan for the integrated peacekeeping mission post-independence had been developed over 12 months and drew on lessons learned from UNTAET and other missions.  The most fundamental lesson was that in order to have a lasting impact, making the best use of limited resources, there must be a comprehensive benchmark-based strategy implemented coherently and in close partnership with the United Nations, Member States and the Timorese.

The follow-on Mission requested by President-elect Gusmao and Chief Minister Alkatiri would support three areas that were critical for the stability and viability of the emergent nation –- public administration, law and order and external security –- gradually drawing down as East Timorese institutions were able to carry the burden alone.

In the area of public administration, the Mission would support critical Government functions through the provision of 100 international experts under the assessed budget, he said.  It would phase out that assistance in essential services and legal systems by November 2003, and in financial and central services as well as internal systems by May 2003.  Continued civilian assistance would also be provided to bring to justice perpetrators of serious crimes committed in 1999.  Investigations into the priority cases should be concluded by the end of the year.

Regarding law and order, he said that progress in the development of the East Timorese Police Service had resulted in a total of 1,800 police officers having received basic training and now working alongside their United Nations counterparts.  Another 1,030 were to be trained to reach the target strength of 2,830.  On external security, he said the East Timor Defence Force was expected to attain full operational capability by January 2004.  An agreement specifying the modalities for coordination between the United Nations peacekeeping force and the East Timor Defence Force military forces was to be signed by the Government and the United Nations at independence.

He said the Secretary-General’s report provided a detailed plan to downsize the peacekeeping force in four phases over two years.  It illustrated the projected timeline at which each phase would occur, subject to predetermined benchmarks.  Should agreement on the border between East Timor and Indonesia occur before the end of 2002, there might be an earlier withdrawal of the force from the border and a reduction in its overall strength.  Material and financial support for the full establishment of the East Timorese police and military were essential and required urgent action, he emphasized.

In addition to assistance to the police and military, he said, was a need to continue supporting institutions and structures of governance and to put into effect the programme for the medium- and long-term development of the new nation.  Considerable emphasis had been placed on coordinating the activities of the wider United Nations system, bilateral donors, civil society and the structure and national development plan of the East Timor Government itself.  The implementation plan provided for the close coordination of the United Nations family, including the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as bilateral donors, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

XANANA GUSMÃO, President-Elect of East Timor, began his statement with an overview of United Nations and international community involvement in East Timor, including an account of the activity of the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET), through which many countries had come together under the overall command of Australia to help control the situation.  The UNTAET had subsequently been formed.  In the last two years, it had given primary emphasis to the maintenance of security and establishing the rule of law.  Development of the East Timor Police Force and East Timor Defence Force had been an extraordinary achievement.  “We are now certain that we are heading in the right direction, but we acknowledge that much more needs to be done, especially in the administration of justice.”

He said other areas of critical importance such as education, health, agriculture and fisheries still required strong support in terms of finance and human resources.  The civil service was evolving, but many challenges still existed, especially at the senior level, to build the capacity of the East Timorese to maintain effective, transparent and accountable government. 

East Timor was about to become independent and now had three basic institutions of sovereignty –- the Executive, the Parliament and the President.  With very limited resources, the Government was likely to face extreme difficulties in implementing its programmes, unless financial support and appropriate expertise from the international community was forthcoming.

The Government was actively involved in preparing the first national development plan for East Timor, he said.  Civil society had also been involved in this process through the civil society consultative commission, which had administered a country-wide consultation to ensure that the plan reflected the needs and aspirations of the people.  The report on those aspirations was now in the hands of the Government.  Education and health had been identified as areas of major concern and would be at the top of the list of priorities.

He said the new Constitution provided guarantees of human rights to the people of East Timor.  For a nation in the making, he noted, delivering those guarantees to individuals and the nation was a gigantic challenge.  “How are we going to respond to the basic needs of our people in terms of employment, basic health and right to education?” he asked. “How are we going to respond to the basic human rights in terms of employment, working conditions and equal gender opportunities?  How are we going to nurture and sustain integrated democratic processes?”  Those were challenges for the Timorese, as well as the United Nations.

He said the experience of the administration of UNTAET carried rich lessons for the future.  Future United Nations administrations in post-conflict situations would be much richer if the lessons from East Timor were drawn into the design and implementation of United Nations plans.  He welcomed the plans for the successor mission, UNMISET, and stressed that his Government would work together to make sure that the objectives assigned to UNMISET would be successfully implemented.

Consolidating East Timor’s core democratic institutions was the challenge that lay ahead for the Timorese and also for the United Nations.  The need to enhance the capacity and transparency of political institutions and the administrative apparatus was a critical challenge.  Appropriate development in the areas of law and order was another.  To maintain and sustain security and stability, those two intertwined processes must be nurtured with careful attention.

East Timor would face a real test after the declaration of independence on 20 May, he said.  Support from the international community would be essential for some time to come.  His country’s independence was the product of sustained determination of the Timorese combined with active cooperation with the international community at all levels.  East Timor’s future success would also depend on that continued determination and cooperation.

MARI ALKATIRI, Chief Minister of East Timor, said that since September 2001, an entirely East Timorese Government had been exercising executive authority, and while there were major challenges to develop public and private institutions, as well as their social counterparts, the fundamental structures and institutions were now in place.

The present leadership of East Timor had to fulfil two major expectations, he said.  The first was the expectation of the people that the Government would channel its energies and creative ability into the development of the country.  The second was the expectation of the international community that the Government would do all it could to convert the aid that was being provided into investments that would benefit future generations.

Government attention would concentrate on four major areas:  education, health, housing, and agriculture and its development potential, he continued.  The budget would be a clear reflection of the priorities that were identified in the national plan, with particular emphasis on service delivery and the alleviation of poverty.  The final budget would be approved on 30 May.

Until the first revenues from gas and petroleum developments in the Timor Sea were realized, international support would be critical to the implementation of East Timor's national development plan.  Those revenues would be considered as a credit to the future generations of the territory from the current generation, and would be paid back through a special development fund for education, health and infrastructure. 

East Timor would be applying to join the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  "We are also working closely with the World Bank to establish a mechanism to channel donor funds into a budget support facility that will help to bridge the gap between the budget expenditures and forecast revenues over the next three years", he said.  East Timor was also actively engaged with the Australian Government and oil companies operating in the Timor Sea to resolve outstanding issues and expected to sign a treaty relating to cooperation, either on independence on 20 May or shortly thereafter.

He said the measures to ensure political and economic stability had to go hand-in-hand with the question of internal and external security.  The East Timor Defence and police forces were not yet ready to undertake their functions, and there was therefore a need for a continued United Nations presence in an executive role in those two areas.  The security of East Timor was also linked to the establishment of good relations with its neighbours.  One important step would be the negotiation of maritime boundaries.

One priority, he went on to say, was to ensure that the Government's programmes and policies reflected the aspirations of the East Timorese and that they were executed with maximum efficiency and transparency.  Another priority would be to maintain the high standards of social and human rights that were instituted during the transition period.  Yet another priority would be to plan for integrated and sustainable development with the support of United Nations agencies, the IMF and the World Bank.  Other priorities included consolidating the very real advances made over the past two-and-a-half years and encouraging a spirit of tolerance and reconciliation within the community.

In conclusion, he confirmed East Timor's full support for the Secretary-General's recommendations for a successor mission and stated that his Government would work closely with the new Special Representative to make the new mission as much of a success as UNTAET.

JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) said the progress achieved by UNTAET should now be consolidated.  The Security Council should accompany the new country in its development, giving top priority to external security, law and order and the building of a top quality public service.  Mauritius fully supported the establishment of UNMISET proposed by the Secretary-General.

The significant role played by Indonesia in the peace process must be highly commended, he said.  Confident that Indonesia and East Timor would continue to consult each other in developing friendly, close and neighbourly relations, Mauritius looked forward to East Timor’s joining the United Nations family at independence on 20 May and expected to be fully represented on that occasion.

He expressed appreciation for the outstanding role played by Sergio Vieira de Mello, the outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNTAET, whose work would become part of East Timor’s history.  Mauritius also congratulated Kamalesh Sharma, former Permanent Representative of India, who would now head UNMISET in the gigantic task ahead.  Mauritius would continue to lend its support to him and to the people of East Timor in building a peaceful and viable State.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said he hoped for and awaited the presence of East Timor in the circle of nations.  He was grateful for the report of the Secretary-General.  Today’s meeting was particularly meaningful –- it was the culmination of a historic process.  A new, decisive phase for East Timor’s history was being opened.  He stressed the need to provide decisive support.  East Timor’s independence had actualized the fundamental right of the East Timorese to self-determination. 

He agreed with the mandate presented for the new mission, UNMISET.  He was in favour of the gradual manner in which the transition between missions had been planned –- that would help guarantee that the new Timorese State would be economically viable in the long term.  He also supported the link envisaged between UNMISET and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  The Council, starting on 20 May, would have a different part to play -– other agencies would play the key role, including the Bretton Woods institutions.  He noted the special contributions of Australia and Portugal and extended thanks to Indonesia for having demonstrated the necessary political will.

RICHARD WILLIAMSON (United States) stressed the importance of consolidating peace and stability in the country’s development phase.  The United States hoped the United Nations and the East Timor Government would be looking for ways to promote the downsizing of UNTAET and to make East Timor the master of its own fate while avoiding instability.

The Secretary-General’s report specifically mentioned the development needs of the East Timor Defence Force and police, he said.  The United States expected to continue providing training services for those forces and had recently started a logistics contract.  His country joined the Secretary-General in noting the importance of the two institutions for the future of East Timor and in urging other States to look at providing assistance to them.

He said the United States had approved $13.5 million in justice-oriented assistance and encouraged East Timor to make progress in that area a top priority.  His Government planned to establish diplomatic relations immediately after independence and remained committed to East Timor, having donated nearly $180 million in bilateral assistance since 1999.

A good measure of success in East Timor would be when the last United Nations peacekeeper departed, and the country stood on its own feet, he said.  The United States had urged East Timorese leaders to avoid needless in-fighting and to practise as much as the United Nations could teach.  It also urged the United Nations to stay on course with the downsizing of UNTAET and to progressively devolve its authority in accordance with the corresponding local capability.

STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said today was indeed an emotional moment –- those who had been personally involved in East Timor over the past years, and many were present in the room, could only watch with admiration the progress made by the East Timorese.  He also noted the contribution of the international community as well as his support for the statement to be made for the European Union. 

It was vital that the international community remain engaged in East Timor to support the fledgling nation in the early stages, especially in the area of security, he said.  He supported the establishment of the new mission and would be circulating a draft resolution on that issue.  It was imperative that quick decisions be made to complete the process of financing and recruiting personnel to fill the 100 posts for the follow-on Mission.  The United Kingdom had committed $450,000 to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, but had serious concerns about the lack of progress made.  The work of the Commission must be sped up. 

United Kingdom support for East Timor would continue after independence, he stressed.  He welcomed the announcement that the President of Indonesia would visit East Timor for the independence ceremonies.  The Foreign Office Minister for South-East Asia would also attend the ceremonies.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria), supporting the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the proposal to continue providing post-independence assistance to East Timor.  He stressed the importance of accelerating work to delimit land boundaries, saying that process would contribute to resolving problems linked to security issues.

He urged the United Nations to pursue its efforts to bring about a return of refugees.  In addition, continued post-independence assistance should enable East Timor to develop a viable economy and its own sources of income commensurate with its ability to provide its people with a decent living.

Expressing satisfaction with the trilateral consultations held with Indonesia and Australia, he said the agreements signed would improve East Timor’s relations with neighbouring countries.  Bulgaria also underscored the positive part played by Australia and Portugal in achieving that result and was gratified that President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia would attend the independence ceremony.  That augured well for relations between the two countries.

KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) welcomed the commitment of the East Timorese leaders to work together with the Council.  By helping East Timor, the United Nations was indeed helping itself.  It was unfortunate that the Special Representative, Mr. de Mello, was not present to receive in person the well-deserved praise he had received.  Success had not been sure for Mr. De Mello –- the odds had been stacked against him. 

Once again, the Secretary-General had provided another excellent report on East Timor, he said.  As he had noted, all were aware of the progress made in East Timor over the past years.  At the same time, the Secretary-General had highlighted a number of issues that still presented challenges, such as border demarcation and return of refugees and the strengthening of nascent Government structures.  It was therefore essential that the international community remain engaged beyond independence.  He was pleased that there was strong consensus within the Council that the recommendations of the Secretary-General should be supported. 

The picture was plain for all to see –- despite the considerable progress, it could not be said that East Timor had arrived as a viable State.  There was a great deal more for the United Nations and international community to do to help.  The dangers of premature withdrawal were too serious for such a move to be contemplated.  The fragility of East Timor should not be underestimated.  Prevention was better than cure and certainly much less costly.  He noted that the whole region had a stake in East Timor’s success and supported the Secretary-General’s proposal for a follow-on mission.  The eventual draw-down of the Mission should be based on the realities on the ground, he stressed.  The Council must give a clear endorsement of the recommendations of the Secretary-General for the establishment of UNMISET.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said in the difficult straits now traversed by the United Nations, East Timor looked like a success story that revived in the minds of all the hopes and aspiration embodied in the United Nations Charter.  He paid tribute to the East Timorese for the successful elections held and offered his country’s support for the new authorities.  What remained ahead –- the construction of an independent and viable nation –- was a great challenge.  Justice and the rule of law would have to be effectively implemented.  The reintegration of former combatants must also be assured.  The return of refugees was another key issue, as was the regulation of commercial activity in the border areas.

He paid tribute to UNTAET, and especially to Mr. De Mello, for the important role that it had played through the independence process.  He noted the inclusion in the new mission of civilian, police and military components and stressed that he fully supported the mandate and structure proposed for it.  He wished success to the new head of the Mission, Mr. Sharma.  Mexico would continue to support efforts to consolidate the new State and to explore ways to continue cooperating with the authorities in East Timor. 

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said the success achieved by the United Nations in East Timor should not preclude an understanding that the task was not yet complete.  A great deal remained to be done in terms of providing support for the country.

The Special Committee on decolonization must be commended for having worked for many years to bring about East Timorese independence, he said.  Regarding the consolidation of the country’s political and institutional structures, the progress achieved was reflected in the adoption of the Constitution, the election of a President and the devolution of many institutions to the Timorese people.  The international community must continue to follow the situation in order to consolidate the achievements of UNTAET.

He said that peace and stability in East Timor would contribute to peace in the region and complement efforts to overcome regional political and economic problems.  A close dialogue must be pursued for the promotion of friendship among East Timor, Indonesia and Australia.

Syria supported the mandate, principles and operational elements proposed for the successor mission, he said.  There was a need to continue providing development assistance to East Timor and to provide all the necessary support in the first three years after independence.  That would be necessary to create police and defence forces that could fully defend East Timor and its people.  Syria looked forward to sending a full delegation to the 20 May independence ceremony.

YVES DOUTRIAUX (France) said he was sure that after independence Mr. Sharma would be fully able to cope with the task of leading UNMISET.  The doors of the Council would always be open to the leaders of East Timor.  The impeccable manner in which the elections were carried out affirmed the great political maturity of the young democracy.  He supported the statement to be made for the European Union. 

On 20 May the United Nations would gain its 190th Member, he noted.  The genuine exit strategy provided in the report of the Secretary-General would make it possible to effectively help the new State.  France would fully support a resolution containing the elements envisaged for the new mission.  He stressed, however, that the Secretariat must continue to periodically assess the situation. 

He noted the need to support East Timor after independence.  He suggested that, given the role they would play in the future, that representatives of the UNDP, IMF and the World Bank be invited to participate in the next meeting of the Council on East Timor, which would be held when the new nation had achieved its independence.

WEGGER STROMMEN (Norway) said that given the conditions following the violence of 1999, the achievements to date in East Timor were indeed remarkable.  However, the report of the Secretary-General suggested that current unsolved issues required the international community to remain engaged in East Timor for some time beyond independence -– Norway fully endorsed that judgement.  It supported the mandate, structure and overall timetable for UNMISET, as set out in the report. 

Under the current circumstances, the establishment of a well functioning public administration continued to be the United Nations greatest challenge in East Timor, he said.  That was also a key prerequisite for the new State’s long-term stability.  Peaceful and constructive relations between East Timor and Indonesia were crucial for the stability and prosperity of the region.  He was therefore pleased that bilateral relations between the two nations continued to improve. 

He shared the Secretary-General’s assessment that in addition to support provided by UNMISET and the United Nations development agencies, bilateral development assistance would be crucial for the establishment of sustainable Government structures and institutions.  His Government had hosted the donors’ meeting for East Timor in December 2001 and now stood ready to fulfil its assurances of continued assistance.  He urged other countries to do the same.

FRANCOIS LONSENY FALL (Guinea) said the independence of East Timor would be a historic event and a great victory for the United Nations.  Guinea paid well-deserved tribute to all those who had made that success possible, particularly Mr. de Mello and the entire staff of UNTAET, local and elected officials and especially the East Timorese people.  Guinea also congratulated Mr. Sharma on his appointment.

He said his country was gratified by the progress made in East Timor reflected in the establishment of a Constituent Assembly, the adoption of the Constitution and the recent elections.  However, if the country was to be stable and successful, there must be cooperation among the leading United Nations agencies in providing support in the justice, security, health, economic, social and education fields.  It was also necessary to avoid duplication between the work of the truth and reconciliation team and the liaison team for reconciliation in the context of refugee return.

Guinea encouraged continued dialogue and the promotion of security and stability within the region, he said.  Bilateral and multilateral support remained indispensable, particularly in the fields of education and health.  It was hoped that the donors’ meeting scheduled for Dili on 14 and 15 May would respond positively to the need for the financing of the new country’s medium-term development plan.  In addition, the General Assembly should pay special attention to the draft budget for UNMISET.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said today’s meeting was historic -- it provided an opportunity to show the public the Council’s capacity to build peace and assure security.  Today’s success would not have been possible without the dedication of the civilian and military components of UNTAET.  He associated himself with the sincere tribute paid to Mr. de Mello.

The results achieved in East Timor were most telling, he said.  A multilateral financial campaign, peace in the territory, the re-launching of economic activity and the holding of elections were all historic landmarks that marked the emergence on the international stage of a new nation.  Those achievements must be consolidated, and the international community must not abandon its role.  He noted that the Secretary-General had underlined the fragility of the new nation, which was an indication that East Timor would continue to need the help of the international community long after independence. 

Independence would mark the beginning of new stage in United Nations support for the territory, he said.  He fully supported the creation of the new mission as well as the other recommendations contained in the report.  He supported the appointment of Mr. Sharma as the new Special Representative.

WANG YINGFAN (China) said the successful holding of the elections was a landmark in the history of East Timor, which demonstrated that the East Timorese people had taken their destiny in their own hands.

As a fledgling State, East Timor would face multiple political, economic and social challenges, he said.  It was therefore necessary that the United Nations continue its presence in the country.  In proposing the establishment of UNMISET, the Secretary-General had identified its major tasks as well as a clear exit strategy.  China supported his proposal and hoped the Council would adopt a resolution on that subject as soon as possible.

Stressing the longstanding friendship of the Chinese people, he said his country’s Foreign Minister would head a high-level delegation to East Timor’s independence ceremony on 20 May.  China wished to develop normal relations with an independent East Timor.

He said China’s assistance to East Timor had included material donations and the training of administrative personnel.  After independence it would be essential for the international community to continue its assistance, and China would continue making efforts to help the country’s socio-economic development in close coordination with the international community.

GERARD CORR (Ireland) said his delegation supported the statement to be made later in the debate for the European Union.  The main task before the Council today was consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on UNTAET.  In particular, the Council must address the plan for the successor mission.  He welcomed the fact that the Secretary-General’s approach to future United Nations involvement in East Timor remained consistent with the strong proposals he had first outlined last October. 

He agreed that the continued United Nations presence should be a robust one.  He also agreed that, together with bilateral and other multilateral arrangements, the United Nations could and should play a major role in ensuring that the rewards flowing from the hard work of UNTAET could be maintained and increased for the benefit of the people of East Timor.

The development of East Timor’s relationship with Indonesia was of great importance to it, including to its economic welfare, he said.  He wished to see both countries working to improve links and to resolve outstanding bilateral issues, including the delineation of the border and cooperation on bringing to justice those responsible for serious crimes.  He stressed that many hard tests lay ahead for East Timor, which was one of the least developed countries in the region.  It needed and must receive that support.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, associated himself with the sentiments expressed by the previous speakers.

Noting that Mr. Gusmao would have to leave shortly, he proposed that the President-elect make a response and extended the meeting for 30 minutes.

Mr. GUSMAO reiterated that the success of East Timor would be the success of the United Nations.  The country would continue to rely on the United Nations, and the East Timorese people remained committed to building a democratic State.

FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal) extended his congratulations to Mr. Gusmao, noting, as he did so, his country’s long-term wish for a free and independent East Timor.  The next time the Council met on East Timor, it would probably be to approve the mandate for the new mission.  He very much expected that the mandate would guarantee the necessary conditions for the fulfilment of the obligations created by the international community towards the Timorese situation. 

He said it was already a platitude to consider the role of the United Nations in East Timor to date a success.  He was sure that the Council would agree that the Timorese had proved that their support was totally deserved.  The democratic process in the territory had been an exemplary one.  However, a new democracy was not merely a question of new institutions.  It was also about the capacity to face internal political conflicts and disagreements and to wisely manage the difficult periods.  The emerging institutions must continue to be protected and supported –- not for too long, but for as long as it was needed for the international community to be able to say that its work there was complete.

The United Nations, with the international community, was responsible for keeping an adequate presence in East Timor after independence, he said.  In that context, he supported the establishment of UNMISET.  He belied that the new mission’s mandate would ensure the necessary security and stability in East Timor.  Its three components covered the main aspects of UNTAET’s mandate that had not been totally accomplished, but that were absolutely fundamental for the viability of the country in the first years after independence. 

He stressed the need to develop and strengthen the East Timorese security institutions.  Well-trained police and defence forces, which respected human rights and civilian supervision, were necessary to guarantee sustained independence, democracy and rule of law.  He stressed that the phasing out of the military and security forces must be done on the basis of a clear assessment of concrete risks.  He called the Council’s attention to the potential threats that existed in Timorese society that would challenge the new Government.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) spoke for the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein.  The Union welcomed the peaceful elections of 14 April -– once again, the East Timorese had shown great political maturity, giving a perfect example of a country that had chosen democracy as the only way towards progress and welfare. 

He said the Union strongly supported the United Nations peacekeeping and the supportive role after independence as recommended by the Secretary-General.  With continued peace as the main precondition for development and democracy in East Timor, it was essential that the peacekeeping force was phased out with due consideration for security developments on the ground.  He agreed with the Secretary-General that the new United Nations mission should provide stability and viability to the East Timorese emergent public administration, assist in the development of a law enforcement agency operating in accordance with international human rights standards, and contribute to the maintenance of external and internal security.

The efforts of UNMISET and the future of East Timor would depend on the resources made available, he said.  The Union welcomed the proposal that the civilian support group and the serious crimes unit be included in the civilian component of UNMISET, thus to be financed through assessed contributions.  He noted that the new institutions in East Timor would require sustained support from the international community.  The Union was willing to continue to assist East Timor in its path to sustainable development and urged the international community to support East Timor.

He said that without internal and external security, East Timor would not succeed as an independent nation.  The Union understood the need to ensure that police and military institutions were adequately equipped and trained.  He commended the work already achieved by the United Nations, in cooperation with some donors, in the establishment of those institutions.  He added that after slow months of progress, recent refugee returns were encouraging.  He welcomed the efforts of Indonesia to solve that question, and urged Indonesia and East Timor to resolve residual matters between the two countries.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said the Secretary-General had presented a comprehensive, practical and responsible plan for UNMISET after independence.  If carefully implemented, that plan, which his country fully endorsed, would provide the best possible chance for a stable, democratic and effective independent East Timor. 

Regarding the security components of the Mission, he said Australia strongly supported the continued constructive work to develop those arrangements in as precise detail as possible.  It was critical to continued international confidence in East Timor that security arrangements operate in accordance with the standard United Nations procedures.

He welcomed the Secretary-General’s description of the relationship between UNMISET, the wider United Nations system of agencies, funds and programmes, and the national development plan of the East Timor Government.  The successor mission in East Timor should not operate in isolation from the broader international effort to assist East Timor.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) expressed disappointment with the way in which the meeting had been arranged, saying Japan was one of the major contributors to East Timor.

He said Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi would visit East Timor on Monday and looked forward to discussing with Mr. Gusmao and Mr. Alkatiri the future of East Timor as well as the political stability and economic development of the Asia-Pacific region.  As the largest donor to East Timor in terms of actual disbursement, Japan had already extended $120 million for reconstruction and development as well as for humanitarian assistance.

An engineering group of 680 troops of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces had completed its deployment in East Timor to participate in the United Nations peacekeeping operation, he said.  They would be engaged in the construction and repair of roads and bridges that were also expected to contribute to the reconstruction and development of East Timor.

Noting that East Timor would face difficult challenges after independence, he stressed the importance of solidarity among the country’s leaders.  It was also important for the people to participate in nation-building efforts, taking their country’s development as their own responsibility.  The support of the international community and cooperative relations between East Timor and neighbouring countries were indispensable for East Timor’s stability and prosperity.

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