Statement by Ambassador Baki İlkin Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Security Council Open Debate on the Situation in Timor-Leste

Baki İlkin 19.02.2009
Mr. President,

I would first like to welcome the President of Timor-Leste, H.E. Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta and thank him for his extensive and enlightening presentation on his young country and nation. We are deeply honored by his presence today. We are also delighted to see him fully recovered after last year's cowardly attack which was actually aimed at democracy and stability in Timor-Leste.

The Timorese people's reaction to this attack by further embracing the agenda of reform and development was most remarkable. Today, as reported by the Secretary-General, we are pleased to see that the security situation in Timor-Leste has substantially improved since last February. This has given the opportunity to focus more on key issues such as security sector reform, rule of law, democratic governance and socio-economic development.

At this point, I would also like to thank the Secretary General for his Report and remarks today, as well as thank Special Representative Mr. Atul Khare, for his continuous efforts to assist Timor-Leste in these endeavors.

That said, much remains to be done in order to ensure that the achievements realized so far can be sustained and carried forward. In this regard, the main challenges, as mentioned in the Secretary-General's report, are poverty, unemployment, uncontrolled migration, lack of an effective land and property regime, a weak judicial system and still developing security institutions. The local elections to be conducted this year will also be an important test.

Given the progress so far, we are confident that Timor-Leste will overcome these challenges and achieve self-sufficiency. However, this requires continued national dialogue and unity, as well as articulation of clear strategies and plans. Transparency and accountability of policy and decision-making processes are also key to success.

In this context, we believe that the UN has still a valuable role to play. There is no doubt that the joint efforts of UNMIT and the United Nations country team are instrumental in providing coordinated policy, political, technical and financial support to help Timor-Leste accomplish its goals.

The two priority areas where UNMIT is and should continue to be most active are facilitation of a constructive political dialogue within the country and ensuring the success of the security sector reform.

In this regard, we are pleased to see a general consensus that the gradual handover of policing responsibilities by UNMIT to the Timorese National Police should not be bound by restrictive timetables and that the emphasis must be given to the achievement of the necessary criteria. This is indeed of utmost importance to maintain public security at this critical stage.

Likewise, we also concur with the Secretary General in his call for defining a meaningful role for the Timorese army in a peacetime setting. In this regard, we think that if the 1300 strong army may be oriented and trained towards contributing to peacekeeping operations. Thus, it might at some point be put to good use in a number of peacekeeping missions.

Mr. President, we fully agree with the Secretary General on the necessity of a continued robust UNMIT police presence across the country. Thus, we endorse his recommendation for an extension of the UNMIT mandate for a further period of 12 months at the current composition and strength.

In conclusion, Mr. President, we are confident that Timor-Leste, under the able leadership of President Ramos-Horta and with the help of the United Nations, will continue to make impressive strides towards peace, security and prosperity. Turkey will continue to support the young but vibrant Timorese nation along their promising journey.

Thank you.