East Timor leader speaks

Issue 

BY KERRYN WILLIAMS

CANBERRA — “I used to be an activist, where I was very flexible and could criticise everything, but now I'm representing East Timor”, East Timor's deputy minster for foreign affairs and cooperation Fernando de Araujo told a public lecture attended by 50 people at the Australian National University on March 11.

De Araujo was formerly the head of Renetil, the East Timorese National Student Resistance, and spent time in Indonesia's Cipinang prison with East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao. He is currently president of the Democratic Party.

De Araujo said that improving relations with Indonesia was a major task of East Timor's foreign affairs department. He added that the Indonesian government had been open-minded in discussions on border demarcation and the repatriation of refugees.

De Araujo expressed hope that East Timor would be accepted as a member of the United Nations and noted that the Burmese regime had blocked his country's admission to ASEAN. He emphasised the importance of strong links with Australia and other countries in the region. He also indicated interest in pursuing the proposal for a West Pacific Forum, initiated by former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid.

De Araujo explained that East Timor's defence and security issues would not be solved by establishing a large military, but rather through diplomatic means.

East Timor will declare its formal independence on May 20.

From Green Left Weekly, March 27, 2002.
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