ALL-Inclusive Intra East Timorese Dialogue (AIETD)

Much has been discussed in the recent UN-sponsored meeting, the third AIETD held in Krumbach, Austria over the course of days (October 20-23, 1997). The outcome was the KRUMBACH DECLARATION 1997 (7 points) signed by 34 participants. It has been made available to public at large. One of the points is that there will be an exchange of visits of Timorese communities whose details will be worked out in due course by the interested parties.

The Austrian government was tested while hosting the third AIETD, the 6 Timorese are now seeking sanctuary in the Austrian Embassy in Jakarta. There was NO OFFICIAL DISCUSSION AT ALL concerning the 6 Timorese in the Austrian embassy during the AIETD. The only exception was that in the Press Conference, Jose Ramos Horta was asked by German Journalists about these Timorese in the Austrian Embassy, Jakarta. In responding to the issue, Ramos Horta said that the matter is being handled by the Austrian Embassy and will be resolved in due course. Likewise, roving Ambassador Lopes da Cruz responded to the journalists in the same tone, that it's in the competence of the Austrian Embassy and the government of Indonesia to resolve the issue. The AIETD participants did not discuss it at all.

Overall, the whole proceedings of the AIETD meeting went well in a productive and conducive atmosphere. The 800-years old Krumbach Castle, recently refurbished to a Hotel, did provide a fresh environment to all participants in discussing the issues pertinent to East Timor at their convenience.

The meeting was opened by the UN Personal representative for East Timor, Jamsheed Marker and the Austrian Ambassador Gerhard Pfanzelter. In his remark, Marker proposed 4 points to be elaborated by the particpants:
a. To ask the AIETD participants to elaborate the objectives and purpose of the proposed Centre for Culture agreed upon in the second AIETD meeting a year before.

b. The organic structure. The AIETD participants were asked to propose institutional structure including its board of trustees and directors.

c. Funding Sources. The participants were asked to discuss methods of fund raising, sources of funds, potential donors with a view to enabling the Centre to propose attractive projects, and other administrative matters.

d. Portuguese Language and Culture. The AIETD was asked to elaborate further on this item.

Further discussions on the proposed 'Centre for Culture and Timor Lorosae' (CCDTL) were elaborated for two consecutive days in responding to Marker's request. The proposal itself was one of the core outcomes in which the participants agreed some of the important elements such as the name, objectives and the organic structure, with the exception of (a)legal base, and (b) board of trustees, that need to be further elaborated by the SOM (Tripartite meeting) in New York. In short, the participants "agreed to disagree" the two points mentioned above. The good point is that the generic name TIMOR LOROSAE was adopted unanimously by the participants and will appear in future official documents of the AIETD.

Everyone is fully aware from the very outset, that it is inevitable to touch issues such as human rights and other problematic issues concerning East Timor, despite the nature of the AIETD itself is not to discuss the political status of East Timor. The participants at some point did manage to discuss human rights issues in a frank, open and positive manner with a view to enhancing Confidence Building Measure (CBM) which has been iniated in the previous meetings. No formal agenda was set, however, the issues discussed were strcutured into 4 categories:
1. AIETD and its structure

2. A just and Comprhensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor

3. Peace and Human Rights

4. Administration, Economic, Social, Cultural Rights, and Development

As one would predict, apart from the proposed Centre for Culture, Peace and Human Rights issue (point 3) was in high preference to be discussed by the participants, despite their political indifferences. Here lies the maturity and the level of confidence of the participants to discuss the issues proportionally in a very frank basis. Such is the moral stature of Bishop Belo that no one can easily say no to the 1996 Nobel Co-laurete. Thus when Bishop Belo asked to discuss the issues to achieve Peace, the participants did show their highest respect.

Given the limited time, not all issues above were throughly discussed at once, let alone pointing them out in the Final Declaration. These issues, however, were considered as 'progress report' for one's record.

In my view, there are a number of possible reasons for the success of the third AIETD :
1. The level of maturity, wise and dignity was highly shown by the participants from inside and outside, given the serious nature of the ongoing situation in East Timor.

2. The presence of the two Nobel laurettes (Dom Belo and Jose Ramos Horta), and Rev. Arlindo Marcal played an important role in giving their opinions.

3. The participants in their personal capacities were fully aware of their presence in Austria to discuss the issue for the benefit of the people of East Timor, and more importantly to help facilitate the ongoing Tripartite meetings under the auspices of the UN Sec.General.

4. The positive and conducive atmospehre that the participants created, their mutual understandings, and their bond relationship as Timorese were above everything, despite their political affiliations.

The homework for every participants to do from now and then, is how to contribute positively (follow it up) based on their respective capacities to the well-being of the people of East Timor, in general, and healing the wounds of those affected the most during the last 22 years.

This brief note certainly bears several limitations, ie. it does not cover the extent to which the AIETD is structured should the UN requests to do so and other relevant issues. Plus, the constitution of the proposed Centre, including its programs, fund raising and the like has not being covered and needs to be elaborated further. On paper everything looks straightforward, but when it comes into practice, it is indeed a daunting task for every decent participant. It requires goodwill and genuine attitude to work harder.

Jakarta appears to be happy with the Krumbach Declaration 1997. As stated by Irawan Abidin, Indonesian Ambassador to the Holy See that " The Krumbach declaration is a good input for the Tripartite meeting between the foreign ministers of Indonesia and Portugal under the auspices of the UN Sec. Gen". Furthermore, he said that it also srves as an input for the SOM which arranges the agenda for the tripartite meeting (Antara, November 3, 1997).

The AIETD participants were satisfied by the outcome and they all approved the whole document after being read out in the Press Conference. Two protagonist leaders (Lopes da Cruz, and Jose Ramos Horta) were reading out the Portuguese version the English Version respectively, witnessed by the UN representative, Tamrat Samuel and the Austrian Government representatives. Also in present,were Timorese representatives from different camps, Timor, Macau, Australia, Portugal and Mozambique and other participants.

In the last day of the whole proceedings, Bishop Belo celebrated a Mass to the participants hoping that Peace may override everything. After the Press Conference, participants were packing up their luggage to leave for different destinations and possibly meet again in the next AIETD. There is still a long journey.

" There are many factors that unify us than factors that divide us" (Joao XXIII).

H.da Costa
AIETD participant

Thu, 6 Nov 1997

Back to the main index