SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, WELCOMES ATTAINMENT OF INDEPENDENCE BY EAST TIMOR

20 May 2002
SC/7403

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, WELCOMES ATTAINMENT OF INDEPENDENCE BY EAST TIMOR

20/05/2002
Press Release
SC/7403


Security Council

4537th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, WELCOMES ATTAINMENT


OF INDEPENDENCE BY EAST TIMOR


Hearing 34 Speakers, Council Expresses Strong Support for East Timorese

Leaders; Welcomes Commitment to Close, Strong Relations with Indonesia


Marking the culmination of a process of self-determination and transition begun in 1999, the Security Council this morning welcomed the attainment today of independence by East Timor and paid tribute to the people and leadership of the island State for their efforts in achieving the goal of independence.


In a statement read out by its President, Shunmugam Jayakumar, Foreign Minister of Singapore, following a debate during which 34 speakers took the floor to welcome the new nation’s independence, the Council affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity of East Timor within its internationally recognized borders.  It also expressed its strong support for the leadership of East Timor as it assumed authority for governing the new, sovereign State.


The Council recognized that the people and democratically elected Government of East Timor bore the ultimate responsibility for the establishment and maintenance of a viable State and expressed its confidence that they would demonstrate the necessary political will and determination to fulfil their aspirations.


Also by the statement, the Council welcomed the Government’s commitment to develop close and strong relations with Indonesia, along with Indonesia’s stated readiness to cooperate with East Timor towards building a peaceful, unified and sustainable society in East Timor.  In that regard, it stressed that good relations with neighbouring States would be essential to East Timor’s future stability and that of the region, which were inextricably linked.


The Council expressed its concern that challenges to the security and stability of East Timor remained after independence.  It noted with concern that shortcomings existed in a number of critical public administration elements of East Timor in the post-independence period.  The Council reaffirmed that strong international commitment would be required in East Timor to ensure continued stability and development of the country for some time after independence and expressed its confidence that the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) would help consolidate and strengthen a stable environment in the country.


Further by the statement, the Council reaffirmed the importance of complementing the United Nations peacekeeping contributions with other United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies, international financial institutions, bilateral donors and non-governmental organizations to assist the people of East Timor to develop a sustainable social system and economy.  It also reaffirmed the continued need for effective and close coordination among those programmes and donors to ensure a smooth transition towards a normal development assistance framework.


The Council appealed to Member States to respond positively to the urgent appeal of the Secretary-General to fill vacancies in the Civilian Support Group.  It also urged Member States to respond positively to the appeals for assistance in the development of the East Timor defence force, police service and justice sector, and in supporting social and economic development and poverty reduction.


It looked forward to the day in the near future when East Timor would join the United Nations as a Member State and noted that the Government had today submitted a letter to the Secretary-General requesting admission as a Member of the Organization.


During the preceding debate, speakers congratulated East Timor on joining the community of nations.  While underlining the significance of the achievement, they stressed that East Timor would continue to need the support of the international community as it moved forward.


Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette, the first speaker in the debate, said the East Timorese had set an example to other nations in their steadfast adherence to the core values of the United Nations Charter -- to reconciliation and the creation of democratic institutions that could safeguard human rights.  Their focus on the future, rather than on the past, augured well. 


She wished the new leaders of East Timor courage as they tackled the many difficult challenges that lay before them.  The United Nations would work with them as they sought to strengthen the democratic institutions that had been established, and to promote the social and economic development of their country.


Statements were also made by the representatives of Australia, Japan, Spain (for the European Union and associated States), Ukraine, Portugal, Costa Rica (for the Rio Group), New Zealand, Nepal, Philippines, Cuba, Brazil, Thailand, Venezuela, Republic of Korea, Jamaica (for the Caribbean Community), Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Cameroon, Syria, Russian Federation, China, United States, Guinea, Mauritius, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Mexico, Colombia, Norway and Singapore.


The meeting was called to order at 10:12 a.m. and adjourned at 1:35 p.m.


(page 1b follows)


Presidential Statement


Following is the statement on East Timor read out by Security Council President Shunmugam Jayakumar (Singapore), which will be issued as document S/PRST/2002/13:


"The Security Council welcomes the attainment of independence by East Timor on 20 May 2002, which marks the culmination of a process of self-determination and transition that began in May 1999.  The Council pays tribute to the people and leadership of East Timor for their efforts in achieving the goal of independence.


"The Security Council affirms its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and national unity of East Timor within its internationally recognized boundaries.


"The Security Council takes this opportunity to express its deep appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, and notes with satisfaction the role played by the United Nations in restoring peace to East Timor, and in building a solid foundation for a democratic, viable and stable East Timor.  The Council commends the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) for the important work that it has done to achieve these important goals.


"The Security Council expresses its strong support for the leadership of East Timor as it assumes authority for governing the new, sovereign State of East Timor.  The Council recognizes that the people and democratically elected Government of East Timor bear the ultimate responsibility for the establishment and maintenance of a viable State.  It expresses its confidence that the people and leadership of East Timor will demonstrate the necessary political will and determination to fulfil their aspirations.


"The Security Council appreciates the efforts made by the General Assembly and the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples towards East Timor’s achievement of independence.  The Council expresses its appreciation to the Government of Indonesia and the Government of Portugal for their cooperation with the United Nations in concluding the 5 May 1999 Agreement which led to the establishment of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) to conduct the popular consultation.  It also expresses its appreciation to Australia and all other countries that contributed troops to the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET) and the UNTAET, which helped restore stability following the post-referendum violence.


"The Security Council welcomes the Government of East Timor’s commitment to develop close and strong relations with Indonesia, and the Government of Indonesia’s stated readiness to cooperate with East Timor towards building a peaceful, unified and sustainable society in East Timor.  The Council stresses that good relations with neighbouring States will be essential to East Timor’s future stability and that of the region, which are inextricably linked.


(page 1c follows)


"The Security Council is concerned that challenges to the security and stability of East Timor remain after independence.  It notes with concern that shortcomings exist in a number of critical public administration elements of East Timor in the post-independence period.  The Council reaffirms that a strong international commitment will be required in East Timor to ensure continued stability and development of the country for some time after independence.  The Council expresses its confidence that the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) established through resolution 1410 on 17 May 2002 will help consolidate and strengthen a stable environment in East Timor.


"The Security Council reaffirms the importance of complementing the United Nations peacekeeping contribution with other United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies, international financial institutions, bilateral donors and non-governmental organizations to assist the people of East Timor to develop a sustainable social system and economy.  It also reaffirms the continued need for effective and close coordination among these programmes and donors to ensure a smooth transition towards a normal development assistance framework.  The Council appeals to Member States to respond positively to the urgent appeal of the Secretary-General to fill vacancies in the Civilian Support Group.  It also urges Member States and other actors to respond positively to the appeals for assistance in the development of the East Timor defence force, police service and justice sector; and in supporting social and economic development and poverty reduction.


"The Security Council looks forward to the day in the near future when East Timor will join us as a Member of the United Nations and to working closely with its representatives. (The Council notes that the East Timor Government today submitted a letter to the Secretary-General requesting the admission of East Timor as a Member of the United Nations.)


"The Security Council will remain actively seized of the matter."


Background


The Security Council met this morning to take up the situation in East Timor, on the occasion of its independence.


Statements


Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said that shortly after midnight in Dili history was made as the East Timorese marked the birth of their country -– the first independent nation of the new millennium.  This was both cause for celebration and an occasion to recall the long and painful road that had led the people of East Timor to nationhood.


She said it was also a moment of inspiration for the entire international community.  The East Timorese had set an example to other nations in their steadfast adherence to the core values of the United Nations Charter –- to reconciliation and the creation of democratic institutions that could safeguard human rights.  Their focus on the future, rather than on the past, augured well for the future.


She wished the new leaders of East Timor courage as they tackled the many difficult challenges that lay before them.  The United Nations would work with them as they sought to strengthen the democratic institutions that had been established, and to promote the social and economic development of their country.


Noting the key role of the international community in making this day possible, she drew attention to Indonesia’s “forward-looking approach” as most recently exemplified by the attendance of President Megawati Sukarnoputri at the independence celebrations.  She said the Council could look back in pride on its support for East Timor’s quest for nationhood, in which the Council had demonstrated unequalled dedication and imagination.


She noted the swift action of the Council in 1999, in dispatching a mission to the region and in subsequently authorizing the deployment of a multinational operation, which played a key part in ending violence and paving the way for future progress.  A debt of gratitude was owed to Australia for the decisive lead it had taken in that operation.  In subsequently establishing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), the Council had taken a bold and unprecedented step, she added.


The international community’s contribution of financial and political support and the service of its men and women on the ground had been essential, she said.  Today was an occasion to urge the international community to remain generously committed to East Timor in the future.  The country faced enormous long-term challenges.  Much also remained to be done to consolidate the country’s fragile new institutions.  The Council’s decision to authorize a multidimensional follow-on operation testified to its commitment to completing the tasks it had undertaken.


She noted that the Council would soon be called upon to support East Timor in still another way.  Only a few hours ago, the Secretary-General had received an application for membership in the United Nations.  She looked forward to its consideration by the Council.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said the fact that UNTAET could hand over authority to an independent East Timor only two and a half years after UNTAET’s establishment showed what the United Nations and the Security Council were capable of achieving with the right mix of political will and flexible and creative decision making, based on sustained international support.  The unique challenges of the East Timor transition had also provided an opportunity for the Organization, its Member States and the Council to put into practice new approaches to peacekeeping and to post-conflict peace-building and reconstruction. 


Working in a transparent and consultative manner with major troop contributors, the Council had provided the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) and UNTAET with clear, credible and achievable mandates, he continued.  It had focused from an early stage on the need for a clear exit strategy, and on the need to manage and coordinate the United Nations’ longer term involvement, including through its funds and agencies.  That approach had continued with the recent adoption of a sensible and achievable mandate for the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).


Australia had been proud to contribute to this United Nations success story in a wide variety of ways, from its leadership of INTERFET in 1999 to its long-term financial commitment to East Timor’s reconstruction and development, including through the signature today of the Timor Sea Treaty that would guarantee substantial long-term oil and gas revenues for East Timor.  However, story was by no means over.  It was necessary to maintain international commitment to ensure that the promising beginnings of the new nation were developed and maintained. 


YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said his Government had been making efforts to play a leading role within the international community in supporting East Timor, and it was already the largest donor in terms of actual disbursements.  It had extended $120 million for reconstruction and development, as well as for humanitarian assistance on the basis of the pledge to provide $130 million over three years, which it had made at the first donor conference hosted in Tokyo in December 1999.


In addition, he said, at the donor conference held in Dili on 14 and 15 May, his Government had expressed its intention to extend approximately $60 million over the next three years for reconstruction and development, as well as humanitarian assistance.  He added his Government’s support for the establishment of the new mission, UNMISET.  Japan would continue to provide assistance to ensure that the Mission would be able to conduct its business effectively.


Although it was appropriate in the case of East Timor that the United Nations ran the interim administration, he wished to take the opportunity to state anew the position of his Government that the modalities of future peacekeeping operations should be considered in the light of each individual situation.  Ways of funding multifaceted missions that included a civilian component should also be considered on a case-by-case basis.


INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Iceland and Liechtenstein, welcomed the steps that Indonesia and East Timor were taking to improve their relations, including the recent meeting of the two Presidents in Jakarta and President Megawati’s decision to attend today’s independence ceremonies.  He urged the two countries to resolve the remaining matters between them, including border delineation.


Also, he acknowledged the crucial role played by the countries that had supported the United Nations effort, committing resources and important numbers of troops to that aim.  The Union had also made a considerable effort to support the nascent State, and would continue to be present in East Timor through aid provided by the European Community, as well as by individual Member States.  The Union also commended the leaders of East Timor for the way in which they had participated in the process of nation building that was achieved today.  The people of East Timor had shown great political maturity, choosing to support democracy as the only way to peace and progress. 


In spite of the achievements of the past three years, all was not won, he said.  As the new State developed and as UNMISET gradually scaled down, international community assistance would need to be re-adapted, while remaining conscious that East Timor would continue to have great development needs.  The European Union would continue to stand firmly behind East Timor in the next phase of its development.  Public administration, the judicial system, law enforcement and defence were some of the main areas that would require international support. 


VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) noted the pivotal role played by the United Nations and paid tribute to the efforts of UNTAET staff and East Timorese to bring East Timor from a post-conflict situation to the eve of independence, despite enormous challenges.  Incredible progress had been made during the past two and a half years in establishing the foundations of the State, in particular, in the political and security spheres, as well as in social and economic development.


His Government was proud to have taken an active part in the international efforts for nation building in East Timor, he said.  It had been contributing officers to the civil police component of UNTAET since its inception.  Ukrainian participation in the Council mission to East Timor and Indonesia in November 2000 had once again demonstrated the importance attached by Ukraine to the creation of an independent East Timor.


He stressed the importance of ensuring that the tremendous achievement in East Timor was a sustainable one.  At this critical moment, it was important to send a clear message of encouragement and strong support for the East Timorese.


FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal) said that today, his country closed an important chapter in its history.  The last territory of what was once called the Portuguese colonial empire had applied the right of self-determination and had affirmed its independence.  The decolonization process could not have ended better -– the creation of the democratic nation of East Timor. 


The international community still had a special duty to the East Timorese -- a duty brought on because of what the international community did not do to support them when they needed support, he said. 


Today, he said, was only the first day of the rest of East Timor’s history.  The international community needed to understand that the United Nations helped to give birth to a country which, for the time being, would be one of the poorest nations in the world.  East Timor was far from being a stable nation with all the necessary means to face the future.  He hoped that future decisions related to the level of assistance to be given to East Timor would continue to be based in realistic assessments of the concrete needs of the new country. 


He noted that East Timor had today a constitutional law in which human rights, gender rights and the internal division of power were formally protected.  It was the common duty of the international community to provide the means for the East Timorese leadership to put that law into practice.  He added that the creation of the eighth nation having Portuguese as its official language was a moment of pride for his country and for other Portuguese-speaking countries.  Portugal was prepared to give the new East Timor authorities all possible support in their difficult tasks ahead.


MARIA ELENA CHASSOUL (Costa Rica), for the Rio Group, said the independence of East Timor was the result of a long effort that had required the broad participation of the East Timorese population.  The Group had always supported their aspiration to independence.  Independence gave East Timor a new status, dignity and rights.  It also imposed new responsibilities on the Government, which faced enormous challenges.  The Group attached priority to promoting democracy and human rights –- the indispensable prerequisites to assure justice, equity, freedom, peace and sustainable development.  Education, health and poverty reduction were other key areas that must be addressed.


The Group saluted the work of UNTAET and its leader in the lead-up to independence, she said.  She hoped the lessons learned would be incorporated in the practices of the Council.  The international community must continue to support East Timor.  It needed the political, military and financial support of the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and the international community, in general.  She noted the Group’s support of UNMISET.  She also stressed the fundamental role that must be played in East Timor’s development by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Economic and Social Council.


Speaking in her national capacity, she said the East Timorese could rely on the support and solidarity of the people of her country.  The challenges ahead were enormous and, regrettably, resources available were insufficient.  Development priorities would have to be wisely elaborated.  Developing countries could not afford to waste scarce resources on armies and weapons, she noted.  Funds should rather be directed towards the promotion of development, democratic institutions and human rights.


With the support of the international community, she said, the new nation did not require armed forces to feel itself secure.  She would have preferred that the Council discourage the creation of an East Timorese defence force.  She invited the Government to abolish its defence force and channel its funds towards development.


DON MACKAY (New Zealand) said that today’s achievement had not been without significant cost to the people of East Timor.  Vivid memories remained of the violence which followed the ballot in which the East Timorese people had expressed their overwhelming desire for independence.  How far East Timor had come in that short period was testament to the will of its people, and to the commitment of the international community, through its support for the United Nations partnership role with the East Timorese people.  That partnership would continue after today, but would change in nature as the overall United Nations footprint was reduced with regard to security, governance, reconstruction and development support functions.


The people of East Timor should rightly savour their new-found sovereignty, he said.  Political sovereignty was, however, interwoven with the pursuit of economic independence.  It was as much those economic challenges that would test the East Timorese leadership as the need to entrench and nurture its fledgling democracy.  It was clear, however, that on both the political and economic fronts, East Timor had many friends in the region and around the world.  The entire United Nations operation, from INTERFET, through UNTAET and now to UNMISET could not have made the progress now evident without the United Nations membership showing its clear willingness to support and directly assist East Timor.


MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal) said that today a new nation had emerged from the turbulent waters of the South Pacific.  East Timor had broken loose from the cage in which it had been imprisoned for centuries.  He welcomed East Timor into the community of nations as an equal and respected Member.  He also commended the sacrifice and dedication of the people of East Timor, which made this day possible.  Nepal was proud to have been involved, through its participation in peacekeeping, in the birth of a nation.  He paid tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives to make the dream of East Timor possible.


In addition, he appreciated the Government of Indonesia for respecting the will of the East Timorese people.  There were many chapters yet to be written in the long history of East Timor.  He called on the international community to assist the new nation to write those chapters.  Nepal remained committed to contributing in whatever way it could to make East Timor a viable and vibrant State, able to stand on its own feet.  It was committed to continuing with the successor mission of UNTAET.  He wished the East Timorese Government and people success in meeting the challenges ahead of them.


ALFONSO T. YUCHENGCO (Philippines) said the efforts of the international community in resolving the problem in East Timor would have been found wanting and short on results had it not been for the courage, the vision and the commitment of the people of East Timor to achieve independence.  With principles and values overcoming force and violence in the new nation, the world had learned that independence and freedom could be pursued through peaceful and democratic means.


He said the success of the United Nations in East Timor had been a collective one.  Countries large and small had contributed personnel and resources to reach the goals set by the United Nations.  Moreover, the remarkably short transition period towards East Timor’s independence had also been due to the professionalism and dedication of the international servants from the top leadership to the rank and file, who had served tirelessly.


He noted that the United Nations operation in East Timor had been one of the first, if not the only one so far, for which a clear exit strategy had been established.  Not unlike a solitary lighthouse that guided ships in the expanse of a dark ocean, the well defined exit strategy in East Timor had served as a robust incentive to help the United Nations achieve its goals.  He called for the international community to maintain its focus on the enormous tasks that lay ahead.  The Timorese people would continue to require assistance.


BRUNO RODRIGUEZ PARRILLA (Cuba) said that today was a historic day for East Timor and the United Nations.  Above all, it was a time to rejoice since East Timor was celebrating its first day of independence.  He was pleased that on its first day as a new nation, East Timor was formally requesting admission to the United Nations as its 190th Member.


Many difficult challenges lay ahead for the newly independent State, he said.  East Timor would continue to need the attention and assistance of the international community.  The United Nations must stay in East Timor as long as it was needed, no more and no less.  The Secretary-General could not have made a better choice than Kamalesh Sharma to head UNMISET, who Cuba was convinced would successfully fulfil his responsibility. 


The Committee on decolonization had had the situation in East Timor on its agenda for many years, he noted.  He was gratified that the Committee’s efforts had been recognized in the presidential statement to be adopted.  He recognized the role of Indonesia in the peace process and the readiness of both parties to resolve outstanding issues and build a relationship of trust and cooperation.  Cuba was beginning the necessary contacts with East Timor and would be presenting a number of concrete proposals for assistance and cooperation.


GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said his delegation associated itself with the statement made earlier for the Rio Group.  He said that while today was a day for celebration, it was also an occasion to pause and think about the formidable challenges that lay ahead.  The historic birth of East Timor would not have been possible without the sacrifice of many East Timorese and the solidarity of the international community.  The example of UNTAET showed that it was possible for the United Nations to muster political will and harness financial and human resources in an effective way, thus, making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable.


He said the tasks and the responsibilities of the United Nations in East Timor were by no means over.  The success of UNMISET would require the same level of political commitment that had characterized the support of UNTAET.  It was important to convey a clear message of encouragement for the East Timorese people.  Enthusiasm with the independence of East Timor must not lead to complacency.  The huge problems awaiting the new Government must be kept in sight.


As Sergio Vieira de Mello had said recently, with independence comes great responsibility, he said.  The leaders of East Timor knew that the effort to build functioning economic and political systems did not depend only on international aid.  The political parties and the leaders also had to undertake a serious effort to make the State of East Timor work for each and every citizen.  Given the political maturity already demonstrated by East Timor’s leaders, Brazil was confident that democracy would continue to flourish and thrive.


CHUCHAI KASEMSARN (Thailand) said it was heartening to learn of the recent successful donor’s conference at which over $360 million had been pledged to support East Timor’s economic development over the next three years.  That commendable gesture should be complemented by the accelerated disbursement of commitments.  It was also essential that financial discipline be strictly maintained with priority on funding East Timor’s national development plan.


He welcomed the establishment of UNMISET, establishing a successor mission to UNTAET.  Thailand stood ready to offer cooperation to the new Mission.  The maintenance of law and order, especially the development of the East Timor Police Service, was without doubt a major priority.  Equally important, however, UNMISET must play a coordinating role in consolidating the various assistance programmes with other United Nations agencies, donor countries and international financial institutions to create an enabling environment whereby East Timor, over time, could participate in the regional and global economy on an equal footing.


Thailand would continue to lend its support through its contribution of personnel to UNMISET, and provision of appropriate technical assistance on a bilateral basis or through tripartite arrangements, he said.  He announced that Thailand had today established diplomatic relations with East Timor and would welcome its decision to seek observer status in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).


ADRIANA P. PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) said that she joined in the jubilation of the international community at the emergence of East Timor as its newest member and had sent a message of friendship and cooperation to the people of East Timor.  Venezuela, as a member of the Special Committee on decolonization, was gratified at the first steps taken by the people of East Timor at institution-building.  There would be many challenges ahead for the new nation.  She was confident that the maturity it had achieved, with the continued support of the United Nations and the international community, would be able to meet its future challenges.  It was encouraging that the first steps were already being taken, and a solid basis was being established for economic development. 


She expressed congratulations to the Government and all the new authorities, as well as all the officials of the United Nations that made it possible for East Timor to celebrate its independence.  She was convinced that the United Nations would continue to give invaluable assistance to the new nation through its new mission, UNMISET, and looked forward to welcoming East Timor as the newest Member of the United Nations.


LEE HO-JIN (Republic of Korea) said that with independence the role of the United Nations in East Timor was being transformed from that of administration to support.  He welcomed and fully supported the establishment of UNMISET, which he was sure would be successful under the leadership of Kamalesh Sharma. 


His country had been contributing to East Timor’s transition to an independent State.  Based on its firm commitment to democracy and human rights, it had been participating in international efforts for nation-building in East Timor by extending humanitarian and development assistance, taking part in election-monitoring and, above all, dispatching a significant number of peacekeeping battalions to the military component of UNTAET.


Today, he continued, his country established full diplomatic relations with East Timor.  Building on those formal bilateral relations, it would continue to strengthen its ties with East Timor, not only in political and economic areas but also in social, cultural and other fields.  The Republic of Korea remained committed to joining the efforts of the international community to ensure democracy and prosperity in East Timor.  It would continue to contribute peacekeeping troops to UNMISET until the end of its mandate.


M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica), speaking for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, as countries that had always supported the East Timorese in their struggle to achieve sovereign nationhood, CARICOM was pleased that East Timor had been successful in attaining its independence and congratulated the people of East Timor on being able to realize their objective.  The CARICOM

was confident that they would embark on the task of nation-building with characteristic vigour and determination.


The CARICOM was proud of the parts played by the international community and civil society in assisting the people of East Timor to pursue their goal of independence, she said.  The UNTAET had performed a laudable role in paving the way for the attainment of independence by the Government and people of East Timor. 


Now facing the nation was the challenging task of nation building to consolidate the gains of independence and to sustain democratic and economic viability.  It was, therefore, important for the international community to maintain its assistance to the people of East Timor.  The establishment of UNMISET would play a vital role in assisting the development of viable administrative structures critical to the stability and development of the new State.  In that regard, she noted the components that had been envisaged to deal with security and capacity building.


MOCHAMAD SLAMET HIDAYAT (Indonesia) said it was a great pleasure for his delegation to participate in today’s meeting to commemorate a “truly milestone event -- the birth of East Timor as a full-fledged sovereign and independent nation”.  He paid special tribute to President Gusmao, who had already proven to be a visionary statesman, particularly in promoting reconciliation amongst the East Timorese people.


He also noted the credit due to the efforts of the Secretary-General and the pivotal role of the United Nations.  His Government would continue to extend its cooperation to the newly established UNMISET in its given mandate to strengthen an environment of nation building in East Timor.


Similarly, he said, his Government was committed to expanding bilateral relations with East Timor, and it would endeavour to find ways and means to explore new areas of cooperation to inject greater vitality into their bilateral relationship.  A significant step in that direction had been taken with the visit of his President to East Timor today to participate in the independence ceremonies.  “It has indeed added momentum to further building an edifice of an enhanced bilateral relationship between our two countries and towards realizing our commitment for implementing forward-looking relations with East Timor”, he said, adding that the international community must continue its support.


SERBINI ALI (Brunei Darussalam) said the contribution by the United Nations and by Member States had been crucial and commendable.  He was pleased with the way UNTAET had discharged its mandate and its contribution to the peace and stability of East Timor.  He commended Sergio Vieira de Mello and his team for their outstanding work.  He welcomed the Council’s approval last Friday of the establishment of UNMISET and was confident that Kamalesh Sharma would continue building on the success of his predecessor.


The new Mission, he continued, would continue the consolidation of what had already been invested in East Timor by UNTAET, as well as by previous missions.  The continued international presence in East Timor was crucial for its rehabilitation and development.  UNMISET’s mandate and practical exit strategy would enhance East Timor’s capacity for self-government and its ability to become a viable State within the international community.


HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that while rejoicing with the people of East Timor over the birth of their nation, the international community must be mindful of the many challenges that would confront the young nation in the years ahead.  Among them were the need to enhance the nation’s capacity building in many areas of development, building a professional and effective public administration and judicial system, and the creation of a viable defence and police force.  The UNTAET had provided important foundations, but more needed to be done in the immediate post-independence period.  All this would require the strenuous efforts of the people of East Timor, as well as the international community.


The future success and prosperity of East Timor would also hinge on a number of other factors, not the least of which was the unity and cohesion of its people, he said.  Such unity, premised on the national reconciliation of the East Timorese people, was particularly important given its history of divisiveness and violence over the past two decades.  He welcomed the steps already taken towards national reconciliation, including the commendable initiative by President Xanana Gusmao, when he visited and dialogued with the refugees in West Timor.  He encouraged him and his Government to undertake all efforts in bringing his people together and healing the wounds of the past, for the sake of the unity and cohesion of the East Timorese people. 


MARTIN CHUNGONG AYAFOR (Cameroon) congratulated the new Timorese authorities and said President Gusmao’s vision and spirit of tolerance and openness would be of service to his nation, as much in consolidating internal peace, security and development as in establishing relationships with neighbouring States, in particular, Indonesia.  He paid enthusiastic tribute to Mr. Vieira de Mello’s leadership and to the civilian and military staff of UNTAET.  The positive outcome being celebrated clearly showed the ability of the Council to ensure peace and security with substantive results in a reasonable time frame.


A new day had dawned for East Timor.  His delegation would support a speedy membership of the new State in the United Nations, and country was prepared to forge bonds of multifaceted cooperation with East Timor.  Also, the international community must strengthen its technical and financial assistance.  Socio-economic development would require peace in the new country, and UNMISET would have a critical role to play in that regard.  Noting the great experience and competence of Mr. Sharma, he said Cameroon fully supported the presidential statement to be made at the end of the meeting.


MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said East Timor had become the most prominent example of the establishment of a State in accordance with the wishes of its people.  Today, a new page had been turned in the history of the United Nations, marked by unheralded collaboration.  The United Nations, with all its different bodies, fully deserved praise for its success.  He commended the efforts of the Secretary-General, as well as those by UNTAET, under the leadership of Mr. Vieira de Mello, to assist East Timor during the period of transition to independence.


He also commended the commitment of the leaders of East Timor to lead the country with a spirit of nationalism, as well as for the steps undertaken to establish relations with neighbouring States, particularly Indonesia.  He believed that East Timor’s historic achievement would not have been possible without the continuous understanding and cooperation of the Indonesian Government.


He noted the importance of providing the necessary assistance to East Timor in its post-independence period and was fully confident that UNMISET would assist in promoting and sustaining a safe environment in East Timor, and that Ambassador Sharma would lead the Mission to success.  He looked forward to an occasion in which East Timor would become a Member of the United Nations and its flag would fly high with those of other Member States.


ANDREY E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said his country joined others in congratulating the East Timorese on their independence.  The United Nations had acquired a truly unique experience in East Timor, which would go down in history as a clear example of United Nations success.  He paid tribute to the tremendous work done by UNTAET under the leadership of Mr. Vieira de Mello.  The institutions established in East Timor were not yet on a firm foundation, and it was obvious that, especially in this initial period, the international community would need to provide support.


A pivotal role in international support must continue to be played by the United Nations system, he said.  He welcomed the resolution establishing UNMISET and believed that the goals conferred upon the Mission responded to the critical challenges at hand.  Key problems to be faced included supporting both internal and external security.  Another major challenge was that of developing an agenda for East Timor’s long-term development.  He wished all success to Mr. Sharma as he took up the leadership of the new Mission.


WANG YINGFAN (China) said that today was cause for joyful celebrations for East Timor and the United Nations.  After two and a half years, East Timor had gained its independence and had become a member of the international community.  He looked forward to when East Timor would become a full member of the United Nations.  Tribute must be paid, first, to the people of East Timor, as well as to the role of the United Nations, which had played a leading role.  Without the full participation of the United Nations, the transition to independence would not have gone so smoothly.  The outstanding contribution of UNTAET and Mr. Vieira de Mello would go down in East Timor’s history.


Independence marked a new stage in East Timor’s development, he continued.  The nation still had a long way to go and could not make due without the assistance of the international community.  The establishment of UNMISET was a sign of the continued commitment of the United Nations to the Government and people of East Timor.  He hoped that UNMISET would make new contributions in assisting the people of East Timor consolidate their success.  Upon the independence of East Timor, China had established full diplomatic relations and had provided technical and economic assistance.


JOHN D. NEGROPONTE (United States) joined others in congratulating the East Timorese on the occasion of their hard-won independence.  East Timor’s evolution from devastation to democracy was truly inspiring.  The day also marked a signal success for the United Nations.  He especially applauded the efforts of UNTAET and Mr. Vieira de Mello.  He also commended all the military and civilian police and help rendered in holding the popular referendum.


The United States was committed to supporting East Timor and had established diplomatic relations with it, he said.  It had contributed over $300 million to peacekeeping efforts in East Timor since 1999, and $180 million in bilateral assistance.  The key now was to consolidate gains and avoid instability.  That

was why the United States had joined others in supporting the establishment of UNMISET.  The United States supported the new Mission devolving its responsibilities to the East Timorese as soon as that was feasible.  There was much hard work ahead, but East Timor would have many friends -- the United States was among them.


FRANÇOIS LONSÉNY FALL (Guinea) said the event being celebrated today was a mark of the long marriage between the United Nations and the people of East Timor.  His country was committed to having cordial and friendly relations with the new State. The month of May had been a milestone in the history of East Timor.  May 1999 had marked the beginning of the period leading to independence and May 2002 enshrined the result of that process.  Today, a new era had opened for East Timor, which had begun to build a new and prosperous nation. 


To meet the challenges inherent in building a new nation, the assistance of the international community was essential, he said.  He was pleased with the establishment of UNMISET to contribute to the consolidation and strengthening of a stable environment in East Timor, as well as with the outcome of the donors meeting held in Dili.  He endorsed the idea whereby assistance to East Timor would be the subject of coordination of all actors involved.  He was also pleased with the positive direction of relations between East Timor and its neighbours.  He wished the people of East Timor success and awaited its arrival into the family of nations.


JAGDISH KOONJUL (Mauritius) hailed the great courage and resilience of the people of East Timor in their fight against adversity.  Their courage and perseverance in rising to every challenge that had confronted them deserved to be commended.  It was his sincere hope that the infrastructure put in place over the past two years would set the path for the island State towards the successful establishment of a peaceful, democratic society.


He noted the importance of continued engagement with East Timor until it was able to shoulder the destiny of its people on its own.  Continued support from the multilateral and bilateral donors would be crucial for the developmental programme of East Timor.  Mauritius looked forward to East Timor becoming a United Nations Member State very soon.


STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said he highly appreciated the role and commitment of the Secretary-General in coordinating the activities of the United Nations in East Timor.  He expressed his gratitude to UNTAET and Mr. Vieira de Mello for their outstanding work and dedication, as well as to the contributions made by non-governmental organizations to the people of East Timor.  The people and Government of East Timor had what they needed for building their new nation.  He was confident that, under the leadership of Kamalesh Sharma, UNMISET would succeed in the mission conferred on it.  He expressed his full support for the presidential statement on East Timor to be adopted.


JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), noting his support for the statement made earlier for the European Union, said his country recognized the role played both by the people of East Timor and the international community.  All realized that the work in East Timor was not yet finished.  There was a huge deal that must be done to establish East Timor as a stable and viable State.  The United Kingdom, therefore, welcomed the international community’s intention to continue its support, including through the establishment of UNMISET.


Downsizing of that operation should take place as rapidly as possible, he said, but the timetable should be reviewed with a view to maintaining stability.  He welcomed recent donor pledges of $440 million to the country.  The production of a national development plan was a positive step, but he noted that “ruthless prioritization” would be needed to assure its success.  The Council could be proud of its role on East Timor, and the United Kingdom was proud to have played its part.


JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said that it was an exceptional time, as the Council was meeting to celebrate the first achievement of independence by a country in the new century.  Today, the East Timorese nation was victorious, sovereign and at peace with its neighbours.  The United Nations family would be enriched by a 190th Member.  That independence, so desired and awaited, had been attained by the East Timorese people themselves through their maturity and the attributes of their leaders.  He welcomed the role of Indonesia during this critical period.  The presence in Dili of President Megawati showed Indonesia’s willingness to have cooperative relations with East Timor.


He paid tribute to the impressive work done by UNTAET, under the leadership of Mr. Vieira de Mello.  The support of the United Nations would not be withdrawn from the Timorese; its role would simply be adapted.  He expressed confidence in Ambassador Sharma’s ability to lead the successor mission, UNMISET.  He was confident that the Timorese people would be able to implement the major priorities of the country, including economic and political development and regional and international integration.


GERARD CORR (Ireland) said that today the people of East Timor faced a new world as they took charge of their own affairs.  The East Timorese authorities must work together in the interests of all the people.  It must not be forgotten that East Timor was one of the world’s poorest nations.  It was graced, though, with people of great resilience and with natural resources which, if properly exploited, could, in the medium term, help to make a better life for all. 


Reconstruction and rehabilitation was more than a physical task, he noted.  There was a need for the East Timorese people to address the internal differences that peaked during the violence of September 1999.  The establishment of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation had been an important step.  He hoped that the Commission would be able to assist the people of East Timor to achieve accountability through truth-telling and healing through reconciliation.


The establishment of good relations with its neighbours was also critical to the future development of East Timor, he added.  He encouraged East Timor and Indonesia to continue their efforts to improve their important relationship and resolve outstanding bilateral issues, including the delineation of the border, and cooperate on bringing to justice those responsible for serious crimes.


ROBERTA LAJOUS (Mexico) conveyed the joy of Mexico at the birth of East Timor as an independent State, which represented the culmination of the struggle of the East Timorese to exercise their right to self-determination.  She noted the role of the United Nations in the lead-up process, which she called a successful chapter in the history of the Organization.


She welcomed East Timor into the community of nations and noted East Timor’s expressed willingness to constructively participate in world affairs.  She supported the readiness expressed by the new authorities to sign and ratify the principal international treaties, particularly welcoming that one of the first instruments to be signed would be the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including its Protocols.


A colossal task lay ahead of the people of East Timor, she said.  She was deeply gratified by the commencement of the work of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.  The efforts of East Timor to meet the needs of its population in the priority sectors required the sustained support of the international community.  The United Nations also had a responsibility to fulfil  -– that was why her delegation had supported the establishment of UNMISET.


ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) extended a warm welcome to the people of East Timor on the occasion of the birth of their new nation.  He commended the work done by UNTAET under the leadership of Mr. Vieira de Mello.  It was difficult to enumerate the successes of the United Nations in setting up local administration, capacity-building, rehabilitation of physical and social infrastructure, and the holding of elections, among other things.  He recognized the good diplomatic and trade relations East Timor was beginning to build with its neighbours, especially the substantive progress in normalizing relations with Indonesia.


In celebrating the role of the past culminating in independence, he joined those who expressed caution about the country’s future.  Among the challenges to be met by the new Government were consolidating democracy and attracting foreign direct investment.  In a few years, when the success of the present administration would be evaluated, the commitment of the international community towards the new State, including the donor community, would also be evaluated.  He underscored the special role of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation.  The UNMISET would have important work to accomplish in the next two years, contributing to the consolidation of the new nation.  He looked forward to welcoming East Timor upon its admission as the newest Member of the United Nations.


OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said the struggle had been long and difficult, and he was pleased to welcome the birth of a new nation.  Today was the result of the political maturity shown by the people of East Timor in choosing democracy as the basis of their nation.  He also drew attention to the efforts of the international community, in particular, those of Mr. Vieira de Mello. 

Norway had developed a close and special relationship with the people of East Timor in recent years, he said.  His country would do its utmost to foster and further that excellent relationship.  He welcomed the establishment of UNMISET and the pledges made at the recent donor’s conference.  Norway was a firm supporter of East Timor and remained committed to continuing to support it after independence.  This year’s assistance would amount to approximately $5.9 million.


Council President S. JAYAKUMAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, speaking in his national capacity, said his country was particularly pleased to join others in celebrating East Timor’s independence, along with the people of East Timor and the international community.  First, he commended the people of East Timor, who had chosen their destiny in the face of adversity.  The leaders of East Timor had worked hand in hand with the United Nations with much success. Their efforts had paid off, and the new nation of East Timor had been born.


Secondly, he said, East Timor’s leaders had taken the reigns of government with enthusiasm, and the people had shown their readiness to work with the democratically elected Government.  Thirdly, it was clear from the National Development Plan, that the people of East Timor recognized that independence was only the beginning.  He shared the confidence that the Security Council had in the East Timorese Government and people and wished them all the best in building a democratic, stable and viable State.


Fourthly, the East Timorese could not forge ahead by themselves, he said.  The new nation had a population of more than 700,000 and was Asia’s poorest nation.  Sustained international assistance was essential and paramount during its early years of nationhood. The United Nations system and international community’s efforts must be applauded.  The contributions of Member States to UNTAET also deserved mention.  For East Timor to succeed, the sustained commitment of the international community was crucial.


Fifthly, he said, East Timor’s future was inextricably linked to the future of the region.  Good relations between it and its neighbours were, therefore, crucial.  The commitment of East Timor to build strong ties with Indonesia was very much welcome.  The people of East Timor had made huge sacrifices, and the international community had made massive investments in the country.  Everyone had the responsibility, if not the obligation, to make East Timor a success story.


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For information media. Not an official record.