President Prodi reaffirms the Commission's support for East Timor's transition towards independence

Brussels, 23 March 2000 - Meeting today in the margins of the Lisbon European Council with Xanana Gusmao and President of the European Council, the Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Guturres, European Commission President Romano Prodi reaffirmed the European Commission's support for both East Timor's transition towards independence and for reconstruction and rehabilitation. President Prodi also re-iterated the Commission's goal of seeing East Timor become a viable country, integrated into the regional economy and a stable factor in the region. Stressing the belief that it is crucial to include the East Timorese in the decision making at all levels, President Prodi stressed the leading role for UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor) in helping East Timor get back on its feet.

EU financial assistance for East Timor has so far topped 33.5 Million Euro, of which 15 Million Euro has taken the form of immediate humanitarian aid (health and medical assistance, distribution of food and non-food items, water, sanitation, shelters and transport of the returnees) channelled via the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), 8.5 Million Euro has been given in food aid and 10 Million Euro is being provided in support of the establishment of the UN administration. In addition to these amounts, 300 000 Euro has been provided in medical aid to West Timor.

Now that the emergency phase is winding down, the EU will now start to concentrate its efforts on post-conflict rehabilitation and long-term reconstruction. In all, a total of 60 Million Euro, 20 Million Euro for each of the three years 2000-2002, will be made available primarily for the health sector and infrastructure.