(As delivered)


28 February 2005

Mr. President,

My delegation appreciates your convening this public meeting concerning the situation in Timor-Leste at this important juncture, in order to consider our future steps as the end of UNMISET's mandate nears, in a few months' time. We thank the SRSG Mr. Hasegawa for his comprehensive briefing. We welcome the presence in this meeting of Dr. JoséRamos-Horta, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Timor-Leste.

Mr. President,

At the outset, we wish to note with satisfaction the tangible achievements and progresses made in the overall situation in Timor-Leste, as reported by the Secretary-General, especially in its improved security situation, state institutions and capacities, and in promoting democracy and human rights, during UNMISET's "Final Consolidation Phase" over the past year. We are pleased with the steady, positive developments being made in the country, since Japan, as a friend in Asia, has quite substantially participated in assisting Timor-Leste in its process of keeping the peace and consolidating the gains of peace through UNMISET and other multilateral and bilateral frameworks. We would like to commend SRSG Hasegawa and his staff, and those working on the ground, for their valuable contributions, and express our high expectations that they will push on with their efforts, as the mission's mandate approaches its end in May, to make those achievements as solid and sustainable as possible.

Mr. President,

It is cause for congratulation that bilateral relations between Timor-Leste and Indonesia have improved quite significantly in recent months, as demonstrated by initiatives taken at the highest level of government, by Presidents Gusmão and Yudhoyono. We wish to pay a high tribute to this encouraging development in their bilateral relationship and hope that this process will continue further, as it is critically important for the future of Timor-Leste.

On the other hand, there remain problems that will require serious attention from both countries. My delegation is concerned, for example, at the prospect, as pointed out in the Secretary-General's report, that the delineation of the land border is unlikely to be finished by May due to the postponement of bilateral meetings. There continue to be incidents, including the incursion of an armed ex-militia group and ensuing gunfire that took place recently, despite the reported overall calm and stability in the country. We urge both sides to take steps to ensure that the border demarcation talks are brought to a successful conclusion and border security control is enhanced through better bilateral cooperation. These measures are critically important for security in Timor-Leste, and we hope that both countries will further strengthen their efforts for an early solution of the border issue, including by the front-loading of the Technical Sub-Committee.

Mr. President,

Another challenge is the existence of what have been referred to as "gaps" in the transition process in Timor-Leste, as it strives towards its post-conflict and sustainable peacebuilding phase, which the Secretary-General's report has identified. We take note of these findings. Against the backdrop of the substantive progress made so far, and as the UN peacekeeping activities enter into a final stage, calling for the redoubling of efforts for the consolidation of peace, the fact that there are still important unmet requirements in some key areas is cause for concern. If left unresolved, this situation could threaten the important gains made and could even have a potential unraveling impact, which must be avoided. But Dili itself is not able to address those problems alone, nor is bilateral donor assistance likely to be forthcoming. The Secretary-General therefore suggests, on the basis that such "gaps" still do exist, that a reconfigured and scaled-down UN mission be maintained for another year.

We take notes of this assessment. The international community, Japan included, has invested heavily in Timor-Leste since 1999, in helping it to find peace, consolidate its gains and stand on its own feet, and we all would like to ensure that the UN PKO in Timor-Leste remain the success story that it has been. We would not want to see a reversal in the final phases of its peacebuilding. Japan is therefore prepared to consider sympathetically the proposal for retaining, on expiry of UNMISET's current mandate, some form of UN activities in Timor-Leste to address these gaps.

In this connection, we note that, in some post-conflict situations in other regions of the world, the termination of a UN PKO has been followed by the establishment of a peacebuilding type of mission. Likewise, in the case of Timor-Leste, we believe that a small UN mission dedicated to peacebuilding, with a minimum required number of personnel, authorized for a limited duration, could be a useful and pragmatic solution to the remaining problems that the country faces in its last phases of transition.

I would like to add that Japan will continue our strong support in Timor-Leste's nation-building effort through our bilateral aid as well, with the emphasis on sectors such as capacity and human resources development, infrastructure, agriculture, and consolidation of peace. And we will be participating actively in the Development Partners' Meeting scheduled to be held in April.

Mr. President,

We must also address issues concerning serious crimes committed in the past in Timor-Leste, as they have close bearing on the country's future stability and development. We note that the Secretary-General has decided to establish a Commission of Experts in order to face squarely the issue of impunity. For this Commission to function effectively, it will need to have good cooperation from the countries concerned. We strongly hope that this Commission will maintain a constructive relationship with the Truth and Friendship Commission which the governments of Timor-Leste and Indonesia have agreed to establish.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, my government expresses its conviction that, with continued support from the international community, particularly the UN, the foundations for stability and progress in Timor-Leste will be strengthened and the people of Timor-Leste will forge ahead, under their wise political leadership, particularly of President Gusmão, Prime Minister Alkatiri, and Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta, in their determination to effect nation-building that is underpinned by ownership and accountability. We must ensure that UNMISET and its successor UN presence will see to it that the transition process continues, on a smooth path, and we must spare no effort to ensure that we leave a successful chapter in the history of UN PKOs in that country.

Thank you.

Related Information (Japan-Timor-Leste Relations)
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