Thursday, December 8, 2022

Timor-Leste, facing the great challenges

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On the picture H. E.  Xanana Gusmão, former Primer Minister of Timor – Leste.


By Joaquim da Fonseca, Ambassador of Timor-Leste to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Since the independence of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste was first declared in 1975, the founding fathers of the Nation viewed its future within the context of an interlinked global community. The then constitution of the Republic made it an objective of the State to promote the establishment and development of relationships of friendship and cooperation among Peoples and States. The interruption of the life of the new country merely nine days after the unilateral declaration of its independence meant that these ideals could not yet be put into practice.

The period of independence struggle, and indeed centuries of colonial rule that preceded it, left horrendous legacies. But it also taught us important lessons. From our own experience, we became deeply aware of both positive and negative consequences of the different courses of action the international community chooses to take, acting in concert or as individual States, in the face of injustice, oppression and, in Timor-Leste’s case, the denial of the peoples’ right to self-determination. Our history has also allowed us to develop a more profound appreciation for resilience and solidarity.

The restoration of independence in 2002 paved the way for Timor-Leste to embark on the path of development. But this road is not an easy one to travel. The country is blessed with modest natural resources, but technical expertise was scarce and state institutions have to be built from scratch. It will be impossible to conceive the development of Timor-Leste without considering the interconnectedness of today’s world. With the assistance of international partners, Timor-Leste was able to respond to the most immediate challenges of state building with considerable success. As the country moves to consolidate peace and boost economic development, it is committed to strengthen the cooperation with its regional and international partners. Timor-Leste is an active participant of various regional and international forums and organizations, covering a broad range of development sectors.


PM Timor-Leste Rui Araujo

On the picture Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, H. E.  Rui Araujo. Picture by the Prime Minister Office of Timor-Leste.


Timor-Leste is a member of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), and currently assuming the rotating presidency of the organization. In 2011, Timor-Leste applied for membership with ASEAN. This application is being considered by ASEAN, and Timor-Leste is working on the conditions for its membership. Despite not being a member of ASEAN, Timor-Leste’s cooperation with individual member state of the organization is strong and expanding.

Timor-Leste has benefitted immensely from the assistance of the international community, and was also able to experience, first hand, the challenges inherent in the system of international development assistance. Through the g7+, the group that gathers States with similar conditions, Timor-Leste wishes to learn from others and share its experience in addressing root cause of conflict and fragility, and in managing the challenges inherent in the system of international development assistance. In the context of g7+, Timor-Leste supported the peaceful general elections in Guinea-Bissau, and is committed to support this fellow member of CPLP in a transition from fragility to stability and development.

Amb Timor-Leste

On the picture, H. E. Mr. Joaquim da Fonseca, Ambassador of Timor-Leste to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Picture by the Embassy of Timor-Leste in London.

Politically, Timor-Leste’s efforts to strengthen its systems and institutions of democratic governance are on going. Successive general elections have been free and fair. Upon independence, those who lead the struggle, including the outgoing Prime Minister, Mr Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, primarily occupied leadership positions in the Timorese state institutions. January this year, in a move to encourage generational change of national leadership, Mr Gusmão stepped down halfway into his term of office. The governing block in the Parliament appointed a younger technocrat, Dr Rui Araújo, who in fact belongs to the opposition party, to lead the Government for the remaining period.

As my five year-old son often presents to his friends, we are a “tiny little [half] island” in such a big world. We hope that our size is not indicative of our worth. With greater political stability and stronger economic capabilities, Timor-Leste hopes to continue to contribute to the common efforts for global peace and prosperity.

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