Timor-Leste entering period of peace, its leader tells high-level UN meeting

José Ramos-Horta, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, addresses General Assembly

25 September 2008 – Timor-Leste has entered a new phase of peace, economic growth and reduced crime since the unsuccessful assassination attempts against the leaders of the small South-East Asian nation in February, the country’s President told the United Nations today.

Addressing the General Assembly’s annual high-level segment, José Ramos-Horta said the attacks against him and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão “shocked the nation” and “served to unite the people in opposing violence.”

The period following the attacks “has been the most peaceful in many years without any politically motivated violence registered so far and even common criminality has been significantly reduced,” he said.

Mr. Ramos-Horta praised Mr. Gusmão and the Government for the positive steps made in consolidating stability and delivering services to the population.

“The progress is visible,” the President said, noting that a growing number of people displaced during the violent 2006 clashes – attributed to differences between the eastern and western regions – are returning to their homes.

Timor-Leste can also take pride in its economic growth, with real GDP rising 7 per cent this year, with that figure being revised upwards to 19 per cent when oil and gas revenues are taken into account.

“However, we would not have succeeded in pulling back from the brink without the prompt and steadfast support from the international community,” Mr. Ramos-Horta, co-laureate of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, said, highlighting the assistance received from the UN and countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

In August, the Security Council commended Timor-Leste’s Government and public institutions for the “rapid, firm and responsible manner” in which they responded after the attempts on the lives of the President and Prime Minister.


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