Allow me to start by warmly welcoming their Excellencies the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Timor-Leste, Zacarias da Costa, and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Ambassador Vera Machado. I would also like to welcome in a special way the delegation of Angola, which will take the floor as current presidency of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).
I would also like to thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the United Nations’ Integrated Mission in Timor, UNMIT, through its Head, Special Representative Ms. Ameerah Haq, for their excellent work. I extend my appreciation to all elements of the mission.
It is a fortunate coincidence that this debate is held under the Portuguese Presidency of the Security Council and, especially, shortly before the beginning of a year – 2012 – during which we will commemorate the tenth anniversary of Timor-Leste’s independence and the 500 years of the first meeting between the Portuguese and the Timorese, when Portuguese navigators arrived in the island.
The Secretary-General’s report, on which this Council was briefed by the Special Representative, underlines – quite justifiably – the progress the Timor has achieved during the reporting period. I would like to highlight some of the aspects which I believe are more significant within all the successes referred. I want to say this before you: Timor-Leste is a success story for the United Nations, and we should, as an organization, be proud of that.
Regarding the security situation, I congratulate the Timorese authorities for re-assuming responsibility in the entire national territory, in an effective way and safeguarding stability. I would also stress positive developments in training of officers and in disciplinary action.
As we approach the election phase, I am happy to see the country’s political stability, as well as the growing climate of dialogue with the opposition and the civil society. Improvements have been made in the public service, the Accounts Chamber has been created and there is an increasing capacity to absorb international aid, not only in financial terms but also in human resources, aspects which illustrate a solidifying institutional capacity in Timor-Leste.
I would also like to mention the efforts Timor-Leste has been making in economic planning, such as the adoption of the Strategic Plan for the building of infra-structure until 2030, and the effort to develop a non-oil economy, essential to ensure sustainable growth.
I now turn to the signature of the Joint Transition Plan, last September, a good example of the close cooperation existing between the Timorese government and UNMIT, which constitutes a fundamental element for the redefinition of the partnership between Timor and the United Nations.
I believe that conditions are met to allow the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2012 – which will count 150,000 new voters – to take place in accordance with international standards. These elections represent and opportunity for Timor-Leste to showcase how solid its democracy is.
On our part, Portugal remains entirely available to support UNMIT in the different areas in which it operates, and calls upon all other donor countries to correspond to the appeal of the Secretary-General.
Portugal has an exceptional framework for cooperation with Timor-Leste, and is firmly committed to continue such cooperation, particularly in the areas that the Government prioritizes.
In Justice, we cooperate with the Timorese institutions to train human resources and we provide technical assistance in legislative drafting and the development of legal Tetum.
Education is one other key area. We have been promoting, for the past 10 years, programmes in the areas of schooling, sending teachers of Portuguese, training Timorese educators and providing material for the study of the Portuguese language.
In Security and Defence, we are training and mentoring the Armed and the Security Forces. In this regards, I would like to draw your attention to technical and military cooperation, a new front for Portuguese cooperation with Timor-Leste, which has been reinforced in September when two protocols were signed to allow the integration of troops from the Timor-Leste Defence Forces in Portuguese detachments in UN peacekeeping missions. Twelve Timorese soldiers are currently undergoing training in Portugal in order to join the Portuguese Engineering Company which will integrate UNIFIL in the first semester of 2012.
This initiative shows the will of Timor-Leste to be an active member of the international community, that does not shy away from its own responsibilities towards the maintenance of international peace and security, the main goals for the UN.
Timor-Leste is also an active member of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, here represented by several of its member States. CPLP has repeatedly shown its commitment to cooperate and assist Timor-Leste, by giving its contribution to the reinforcement of stability and the consolidation of its institutions. I align myself with the statement which will be read by the Angolan presidency of CPLP.
We are approaching a new part of the path that Timor-Leste, as am independent country, has trailed, with UNMIT reaching its end and the transition towards a different form of UN presence in the country looms.
It is up to Timor-Leste, in dialogue with the UN, to decide the format which the organization’s presence will assume once UNMIT has withdrawn.
Portugal entirely trusts that the transition process will go as planned, ensuring a transfers of capabilities and competences to the Timorese institutions which can ensure that the work done by UNMIT is preserved.
Timor-Leste’s progress since its hardly regained independence cannot be overstated. It is that determination of the Timorese people and its leaders to overcome whatever obstacles that translates today into the success the country has achieved and that supports our confidence in its future.
I state it once more: Timor-Leste is a success story, of its people, its partners and the United Nations – an example of how the international community can correspond to the ambitions of a nation and fulfil its destiny.
We acknowledge, nevertheless, that Timor-Leste has a long way to go until its legitimate expectations of economic development are met. For that reason, it is important that the international community, the UN and, in particular, the Security Council maintain a steadfast commitment to the country. I underline as well the contribution made by the European Union, whose statement I naturally subscribe to.
In conclusion, it is with optimism and confidence that we wait for the decisive developments in Timor-Leste next year. Only ten years have passed since independence. But ten years after resistance and suffering which are unique in the history of the freedom of peoples, Timor-Leste is today a viable State and a society which constantly seeks progress. Rarely has so much been done in such little time. Portugal will be, bilaterally as well as multilaterally, side by side with Timor-Leste.