East Timor grateful

Published May 1, 2002


(ENI)-As East Timor prepares to become independent this spring, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta – the territory’s foreign affairs minister – has paid tribute to the role of international solidarity in achieving sovereignty.

Currently under United Nations administration, East Timor is preparing for independence in May, just two and a half years after Indonesia pulled out of the territory in 1999.

Indonesia’s withdrawal followed an overwhelming vote for independence by East Timorese in a UN-supervised referendum but was accompanied by widespread violence from anti-independence militias.

“We are free today because of international solidarity,” Mr. Ramos-Horta said, “thanks to an extraordinary partnership between NGOs (non-governmental organisations), civil society and solidarity movements and certain governments that led the Indonesians to accept the results of the referendum and pack up and leave East Timor.”

East Timor still faces many challenges, he said. Almost 300, 000 people were displaced and 75 to 80 per cent of the territory’s infrastructure was destroyed in the violence, he said.


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