Andrews hopes East Timor may soon achieve self-determination
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr David Andrews T.D., today expressed the hope that the people of East Timor may soon be in a position to realise their long-held desire for self-determination. Commenting on reports from the United Nations in New York, the Minister said he believed that important new international pressures had arisen which had led Indonesia to reconsider its position on the matter.
Minister Andrews added his full support to the call by the jailed resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao, for a ceasefire by all sides in East Timor and for a phased withdrawal of Indonesian troops from the territory. The Minister said it was vitally important that violence be avoided, since it would jeopardise the progress which had so far been achieved. The Minister said he was encouraged by reports that Mr Gusmao was to be moved from prison to house arrest. He recalled his intention to travel to Jakarta in the coming months to visit the imprisoned leader and to show solidarity with the East Timorese cause.
The Minister pointed out that in recent weeks he has had detailed discussions on the question of East Timor with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Kofi Annan, and with the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Mr Jaime Gama. He has also been closely involved in the elaboration of EU policy towards East Timor. At the European Council in Vienna on 11-12 December, the EU called for a real and substantial reduction in the Indonesian military presence in the territory, the liberation of Xanana Gusmao and of all political prisoners, and the establishment in East Timor of a permanent United Nations presence.
The Minister expressed his full support for the efforts of the United Nations to find a negotiated solution to the question and he conveyed his best wishes for the success of the talks between Portugal and Indonesia currently underway in New York. The Minister stressed Ireland's readiness to offer assistance to the United Nations should it be decided to dispatch observers or monitors to East Timor in order to oversee the ceasefire and the military withdrawal which he hoped would soon be put in place.Top