Dáil Éireann - Volume 508 - 29 September, 1999

Written Answers. - East Timor Conflict.

205. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will give details of the situation in East Timor; the role the UN has played; the reason the UN seemed to have failed the people of East Timor in early September 1999 when they expected its support and protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18110/99]

206. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the reason the deteriorating situation in East Timor was not prevented in view of the knowledge of the situation prior to voting on 30 August 1999; his views in relation to the UN in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18111/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ms O'Donnell): I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 and 206 together.

With regard to the situation in East Timor I refer the Deputy to the reply which I gave to Priority Questions on the subject today.

With regard to the specific role and involvement of the UN, under the terms of the agreement of 5 May between Indonesia, Portugal and the UN, which provided the basis for the popular consultation in East Timor to be organised and to actually take place on 30 August, responsibility for providing security in East Timor lay fully with the Indonesian Government. Indonesia would not accept the presence of an international armed peacekeeping force as part of this process, and insistence by the international community on this point would have meant that the process would not have taken place. The Indonesian Government must now explain its failure to fulfill this responsibility.

The UN established its mission for East Timor [222] – UNAMET – to administer the election. The Minister for Foreign Affairs paid tribute to their work when he addressed the UN General Assembly last week. As a result of their work the people of East Timor were able to express themselves democratically for the first time in their history. The Government, together with our EU partners, is now fully committed to seeing that the people of East Timor enjoy the independence which they have freely and overwhelmingly chosen.

The violence which was unleashed, with the complicity of the Indonesian Government, on the people of East Timor after the announcement of the result was addressed by the UN Security Council following expressions of grave concern by a number of governments, including that of Ireland. I have already described in reply to another question the terms of Resolution 1264 of 15 September. While welcoming the fact that this resolution is now in place, I regret that it was not adopted sooner.

In the course of his address to the UN General Assembly last week, the Minister for Foreign Affairs noted that questions about the effectiveness and credibility of the United Nations had been raised and urged that, learning from the crisis in East Timor, steps be taken to ensure that principles of the UN Charter be more effectively upheld.