Dili, Timor-Leste

15 August 2012

Secretary-General's press conference with President of Timor-Leste


Your Excellency President Taur Matan Ruak of Timor-Leste, Ladies and Gentlemen of the media, boas tardes [good afternoon].


Thank you for your warm welcome, and I am very pleased to be back in Timor-Leste.


This is my second visit as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I am especially delighted to be here as your country marks its tenth anniversary since the Restoration of Independence – and your tenth year as a member of the United Nations.


President Taur Matan Ruak and just had a very constructive discussion. He shared his perspective on the progress the country has made since the establishment of the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste in 2006.


Later today, I will meet with other key leaders, including the Prime Minister and his cabinet, the president of the national assembly, and address the National Parliament.


Tomorrow, I will visit a primary school in Liquica, and deliver a speech to University of Timor-Leste students to highlight the key role of education in the country’s development.

Timor-Leste has come a long way. You have much to be proud of.


I commend all Timorese for the successful presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year.


The peaceful and orderly process reflects Timor-Leste’s strong commitment to stability, democracy and national unity.


I also welcome the significant progress made by Timor-Leste in the security sector.


For over 16 months, the national police, PNTL, have borne the responsibility for the conduct of all police operations in Timor-Leste.


They are not only making a difference here in the country, but around the world. We see that in the form of police and military personnel you are now contributing to UN peacekeeping missions in other parts of the world.


This is a powerful testament to the growing professionalism and institutional development of your security forces – as well as your commitment to global solidarity.


You are also reforming other State institutions, including ministries, the civil service, and the judiciary. All of this underlines a continued commitment to principles of good democratic governance and the rule of law.


The President and I also discussed the work of UNMIT and the UN country team. As we near the end of UNMIT’s mandate, we have been reaching out to a wide range of Timorese leaders and representatives to shape a new form of UN engagement in Timor-Leste to tailor our support to the changing needs of the country.


I look forward to deepening that dialogue for our future engagement during my visit.

Once again, thank you for your welcome.


Timor-Leste can count on the United Nations’ steady support as it marks further strides on its path towards continued stability and further development.


Thank you. Muito Obrigado.


Q: Are you confident the country will remain peaceful once the peacekeeepers leave? And the second question: Mr. [inaudible] …. is a strong candidate to replace Kofi Annan, are you going to announce officially here in East Timor?


SG: I didn’t clearly understand your first question, but for the second question: I am not in a position to inform on anything about the successor issue of Kofi Annan as Joint Special Envoy for Syria. I am in the process of actively searching for a successor and when I am ready I will certainly announce this as soon as possible.


What is important at this time is that both the Syrian Government forces and opposition forces, they must stop the violence. They must stop the violence and then start political dialogue for political resolution.


More than 18,000 people have been killed during the last 18 months. The Syrian people have suffered too much too long. We cannot go on this way. The international community must feel the sense of collective responsibility on this situation. How long do we have to endure this kind of a tragedy? This is not justice and this is not acceptable.


That is why I am now expediting the selection of the successor of the Joint Special Envoy. And also, we are trying our best of course to provide humanitarian assistance to more than one million Syrian people affected because of this situation. And also to more than 150,000 refugees who have fled into neighbouring countries in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. Not only are those countries suffering because of these refugee issues, but those people who have fled, they are the ones who are really suffering, so we are mobilising all necessary humanitarian assistance. My Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos, is currently visiting Syria and she is discussing this matter with the Syrian government officials and also the Syrian Arab Red Crescent officials. Thank you very much.


Q: Does Your Excellency believe the country will remain peaceful after the peacekeepers leave?


SG: We are now planning for the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste peacekeeping operations. I believe that, and our assessment team’s recommendation, is that Timor-Leste does not need UN peacekeeping operations at this time. The national police of Timor-Leste have strengthened their capacity. They have successfully helped in three rounds of presidential and parliamentary elections. They have taken ownership and leadership [of policing] since March 2011.


That does not mean that you don’t have any problems. You still have many challenges.


Therefore, as I said in my remarks, the President and I have discussed what would be the best, appropriate and practical form of the United Nations engagement after the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces.


You have achieved a remarkable socio-economic development and political stability.


You have a new President. A new Prime Minister [and] a new Parliament have been inaugurated. Therefore it is up to the leadership, and up to the people of Timor-Leste, to make this political stability and social development sustainable. The United Nations will remain in other forms to support your aspirations.


Q: Does the UN support the pursuit and prosecution of people involved in human rights atrocities committed in East Timor from 1974 until independence, including people who are now in Indonesia?


SG: The United Nations’ position on this issue is clear and persistent: All the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes must be brought to justice. I have discussed this matter with President Ruak during our meeting. I know that according to our experience, political stability cannot be sustainable when there is no justice for the crimes against civilian populations, [crimes] against humanity and war crimes.


Timor-Leste is a sovereign state and I believe that President Ruak and the Prosecutor General and all the relevant departments will take necessary actions so that perpetrators of crimes will be brought to justice.