(Photo Tatoli/António Daciparu)

DILI, 19 May 2022 (TATOLI)-Ramos-Horta, 72 Former independence fighter and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, After being sworn in for his second term as the fifth President of Timor-Leste, Horta pledged to strengthen bilateral relations with neighboring countries.

“I have always advocated and will continue to advocate that our relations with Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Southeast Asian countries, geographically close to Timor-Leste must be at the top of our national agenda,” Stressed Horta.

“We must explore effective ways of greater economic and commercial integration and cooperation in the areas of defense and security, namely maritime security.”

He said Timor-Leste needed to build good cooperation with the Eastern Indonesia provinces, especially the Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT).

The new Head of States also emphasized the importance of promoting the development of trade and mobility of people and products through maritime and air connectivity with the Northern Territory (Darwin) and Western Australia.

In addition, he said Japan has been a generous partner for Timor-Leste: “We are grateful for Japan’s support in particular in the infrastructure sector, namely the construction of the new terminal at Dili Airport.”

Horta reiterated Timor-Leste and South Korean commitment to send more Timorese workers to South Korea.

“The opening of the Korea Labor Market for Timorese workers is deeply appreciated. All of our solidarity with the Republic of Korea in the face of insecurity and tension in the Korean peninsula and we support all initiatives and dialogue for the escalation of the tension in that region,” he said.

Horta praised the US as it has continuously contributed to the construction of the building of the State of Timor-Leste: “I intend to continue to foster this special relationship with more specifically I emphasize the importance of the Millennium Challenge Cooperation Program.”

“I express my appreciation to the US navy, the Seabees engineers who had been operating in Timor-Leste for over 10 years in partnership with Timor-Leste’s National Defense Force (F-FDTL) and we want to see the youth US Peace Corps Program in the areas of teaching English and support the rural development project to be restarted,” he said.

Furthermore, as a global power and permanent member of the UN Security Council, Horta said China has an increased responsibility in promoting and defending dialogue for the preservation of regional and global peace.

“We intend to extend bilateral cooperation with China, especially in the areas of sustainable, and organic agriculture, small industries and trade, new technologies, renewable energy, connectivity, artificial intelligence, and urban and rural infrastructure,” he said.

Horta thanked the ASEAN member countries for all the support: “You have supported us to prepare our human resources for Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership.”

ASEAN has been since its establishment in 1967, a fundamental pillar of prosperity and stability in the region, as well as a successful model for a multilateral organization.

“Timor-Leste’s accession to ASEAN is a national strategic objective that I advocated since 1974 during a historic meeting in Jakarta with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adam Malik,” Horta stressed. “I salute ASEAN membership for pursuing dialogue and mediation efforts to end the extreme violence in Myanmar.”

Horta also expressed solidarity with European over the Ukrainian war: “In this troubling time, in Europe, as the consequence of the war in Ukraine, I wish to stress my solidarity with the Europeans and Ukrainians. Europe has a long history of solidarity and partnership with the countries of Africa, Caribean, and the Pacific.”

“I salute president Emmanuel Macron of France for his courage and determination in pursuing dialogue with Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to end the war in Ukraine,” he said.

In his open speech, Horta also pledged to reduce poverty, eliminate malnutrition, and improve the health of mother and child for the community’s wellbeing.

“Despite more than 90 percent having access to electricity, there are still serious issues needed to be addressed Timor-Leste needed to combat extreme poverty, malnutrition, and exclusive as well as achieve sustainable food security, health, clean drinking water, and sanitation.”

“We must eliminate malnutrition, extreme poverty, and exclusion. Again agriculture, education, health, clean water, and sanitation must be our priorities,” he reiterated.“Likewise, there can’t be room in our society for discrimination and exclusion of children of the LGBT. All are the children of God and children of the nation who will contribute to promoting peace and community wellbeing with their intelligence.

Horta said: “Our youth must be at the center of our vision. We need to invest in young people and let them dream.”

José Manuel Ramos-Horta; born 26 December 1949) is an East Timorese politician He previously served as president from 20 May 2007 to 20 May 2012. Previously he was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2006 and Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007. He is a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, for working “towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor”.

As a founder and former member of Fretilin, Ramos-Horta served as the exiled spokesman for the East Timorese resistance during the years of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor (1975–1999). While he continued to work with Fretilin, Ramos-Horta resigned from the party in 1988, becoming an Independent Politician.

Ramos-Horta defeated incumbent Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres, his fellow independence fighter, in an April 19 election runoff and currently serving as President of East Timor since May 19, 2022.

Journalist   : Filomeno Martins

Editor          : Nelia Borges

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