Timorese gain control of border
East Timor is taking another step towards becoming less dependent on the United Nations, by taking over responsibility for border crossings. The UN has been guarding and managing East Timorâs border since it gained independence from Indonesia in 1999. The Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, told the BBC it was a significant step for East Timor, which became the worldâs newest country last May.
Thanks to the Aussies who booted the Indonesians in the arse.
But East Timor insists it still needs international help. Mr Ramos Horta told the BBCâs World Today programme that thanks to help from the UN and countries like Australia, East Timorâs police and border control staff were being trained. But he said that what East Timor wanted was to become "less and less dependent on international assistance". "The international community is called upon to other emerging problems, and other ongoing problems, like Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and elsewhere," he said, "East Timor cannot pretend to have a monopoly on international sympathy and support."
So sign some oil contracts with BP and Chevron and quit complaining.
But in an interview with the Associated Press news agency, the countryâs Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, said East Timor still needed foreign donors to keep up their current level of financial assistance. The US has proposed cutting next yearâs aid from $25m to $13m - denying suggestions from some Timorese officials that increased costs in Iraq was behind the proposal. Mr Alkatiri urged Washington not to cut its assistance. "Itâs nothing compared to what the United States gives to Iraq," he said. "This is a new democracy and it has to be consolidated." Next month, East Timor is due to begin negotiations with Australia over maritime borders. East Timor hopes to gain control of a vast oil and gas field in the Timor Sea, known as Greater Sunrise, which could bring in $7bn for East Timor over the next two decades. The two countries have already signed an agreement to divide up oil and gas reserves from another huge area under the Timor Sea.
This is what the Indonesians fought so hard to keep.
Posted by: Steve White 2003-10-20