Commission supports stabilisation of Timor-Leste
Brussels, 6 October 2006 - The European Commission is launching a series of urgent stabilisation measures for Timor-Leste. Following the recent visit by the Special Envoy of President José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission will intensify co-operation with Timor-Leste and is currently assessing the possibility of opening a Delegation in Dili. The Commission adopted on 31 August a €4 million short-term stabilisation programme under the EC Rapid Reaction Mechanism, to support the national dialogue in Timor-Leste and short-term youth employment-generation schemes. As the first among those measures, a member of the Club of Madrid, the former Prime Minister of Latvia Valdis Birkavs, is providing high-level external facilitation for the start of the national dialogue process in Timor-Leste, with his first mission to Dili ending this week.
"Timor-Leste can count on the European Union. We remain fully committed to work for the country's stable future, in support of the Timorese people. We will stay the course", European Commission President José Manuel Barroso declared, recalling the Commission's important role since the independence process began in 1999.
The Commission is responding to the crisis that shook the young Timorese democracy earlier this year, with a strong political message of support and by swiftly deploying a number of Commission instruments.
In June, the Commission adopted in June a € 3 million immediate humanitarian assistance package to help displaced Timorese and approved a €18-million development assistance package for 2006-07 under the 9th European Development Fund. A further € 63 million under the 10th European Development Fund are currently being programmed for use in 2008-13. Since independence, European Community financial assistance to Timor-Leste amounted to over € 200 million, including emergency and humanitarian relief, food security, environment and rural development, health, and government and civil society.
On 3 July 2006, President Barroso, in close contact with Commissioners for External Relations, Benita Ferrero Waldner, and for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, appointed Miguel Amado, a senior Commission official, as his Special Envoy for Timor-Leste. Returning from his three-week mission to Timor-Leste on 30 July, the Special Envoy recommended urgent stabilisation measures under the EC Rapid Reaction Mechanism, the upgrading of the Commission's Office in Dili to a Delegation and an intensified programme assistance under the European Development Fund (EDF).
The Commission then activated support for Timor-Leste under the Rapid Reaction Mechanism (RRM). The € 4 million programme covers a number of activities, designed to support an open and inclusive national debate and to reduce the potential for renewed instability, both of which are crucial to a positive political climate in the run-up to the 2007 elections
The programme foresees support for the dialogue in two ways.
First, high-level third party facilitation of the dialogue by members of the Club of Madrid (http://www.clubmadrid.org/cmadrid/index.php?id=1), an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience of its members, democratic former heads of state and government. The Commission is supporting this facilitation mission.
Second, technical assistance will be provided to the national dialogue process, including thematic support and a series of public consultations, information activities, and civic education.
The RRM programme also seeks to help create short-term employment opportunities for unemployed youth. By increasing the income of families, such support will also help revive the local economy and facilitate the return of displaced persons.
Timor-Leste became formally independent in 2002. International and UN presence gradually diminished, but massive international aid continued, including over € 500 million from the EU and its Member States. Despite a series of achievements and the short-term prospect of considerably increased oil revenues, the country still faces formidable challenges on its path to institution-building, good governance, sustainable development and poverty reduction.
The most recent crisis was triggered by the dismissal, in March 2006, of one third of the armed forces who had demonstrated against alleged discrimination. Security in Dili was re-established only thanks to the arrival in May 2006 of some 2,500 forces from Australia, Portugal, New Zealand and Malaysia. On 25 August, the UN Security Council established a new UN Integrated Mission in Timor Leste UNMIT, including international police and military presence.