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Xanana reacts to UN agreement

CNRT statement - May 6, 1999

For twenty-three years, the people of East Timor have awaited this agreement which acknowledges their right to self-determination.

The agreement signed on May 5th in New York attests to the fact that the immeasurable sacrifices of the East Timorese people throughout this long period of oppression have not been in vain.

Realistically speaking, the value of the agreement as a historic document lies in the fact that it will permit the people of East Timor to exercise their legitimate right to decide on their future. For this very reason, the worth of the agreement in practical terms can only be verified through its implementation, in other words, when the United Nations ensures that the conditions for successful implementation exist.

I wish to draw attention to the fact that our people have long awaited this agreement, never ceasing to believe in the importance of its signing.

There is no doubt that there will be difficulties on the ground and that numerous obstacles will continue to be placed in the path of the preparation of a fair, democratic and transparent consultation.

All, however, will depend on the Indonesian government's compliance with the terms of the agreement relating to its responsibility for creating a climate of peace and tranquillity for the population.

While the agreement is no cause for euphoria, nor is it a guarantee of a resolution via democratic and peaceful processes, we must not view it with excessive pessimism, nor lose sight of the urgent need for a frank and serious dialogue capable of giving rise to new spirits and hopes.

I take this opportunity to express to UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, our profound appreciation for the on-going commitment he has demonstrated to the question of East Timor, which has made possible this first step in the direction of a new future for the East Timorese people. Our thanks also go to Ambassador Jamsheed Marker and his staff for their tireless dedication.

We express our sincere gratitude to the Portuguese government for its attentive and skilful handling of the question. To the Indonesian government, goes our appreciation for the commitment it has undertaken to guaranty the implementation of a democratic, transparent and fair consultation.

Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, President of CNRT