Celebration of the 11 Anniversary of the Popular Consultation for the Independence of TL

31 Aug 2010

Celebration of the 11 Anniversary of the Popular Consultation for the Independence of TL

Dili, 30 August 2010 -

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste
Ameerah Haq

On the Occasion of the Eleventh Anniversary of the Popular Consultation
30 August 2010

Dili, Timor-Leste

Your Excellency, Dr. José Ramos-Horta, President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste,

Excellencies the Ministers and representatives of the Government,

Excellencies Ambassadors and heads of Mission

Excellencies the Representatives of the national and international community

It is truly an honour for me to be here with you today in the beautiful Cristo Rei, both to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the Popular Consultation and to remember and pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate price in the pursuit of freedom.

On 30 August, eleven years ago, with the eyes of the world turned towards East Timor and the outcome of the UN-supervised Popular Consultation, the majority of the proud Timorese people sent an unmistakable message to the international community as they exercised their right to self-determination. This act of courage and determination set in motion a countdown watched around the world that led to the restoration of independence of Timor-Leste on 20 May 2002. The wonderful restored park and seafront promenade we see around us here, where families can relax and children can play in a secure atmosphere, is in itself a great symbol of the progress Timor Leste has achieved since those tense times eleven years ago.

Of course the Timorese people have had to overcome many challenges during these eleven years and certainly, there will be more. But I am confident that the people and leaders of this country will continue to address those challenges, whatever they may be, as opportunities to make further progress on the road to a peaceful, stable and prosperous Timor-Leste; and to fully utilize and strengthen the democratic institutions that have been established so painstakenly. I am here today to restate the commitment of the United Nations to support you as you continue to tackle the challenges.

After eight months in Timor-Leste, I often reflect on how fortunate I am to serve as Special Representative of the Secretary-General in a country where the people and leaders alike are fully committed to the State-building process and where they fully appreciate the contribution and role of the United Nations and the wider international community. We all know and appreciate the depth of feeling that underlies the strong bonds between Timor-Leste and the United Nations. These ties go back over many years starting with UNAMET, and built upon by UNTAET, UNMISET, UNOTIL and now UNMIT.

Progress made to date in establishing and developing State institutions is undeniable. The political and security situation is stable. Democratic institutions stand firm on solid foundations. Yes, challenges remain. And yes, growing pains are inevitable. Timor-Leste must now consolidate the gains of the past and ensure a smooth transition to a phase of sustainable socio-economic development.

We in UNMIT and in the UN system are committed to supporting that transition. Following the foot steps of previous SRSGs, I intend to work closely with all of you, the leaders of Timor-Leste, political parties, women's groups and civil society, the academia, and the donor community to ensure that the transition and the final stage of the UN Mission's engagement in Timor-Leste will be completed as a true success story for Timor-Leste and for all of us.

Thank you.