Thursday, June 08, 2006
“The dream is getting harder and harder”
Joint interview to PM Alkatiri by El País [Spain] and Público [Portugal]
QUESTION: How would you define the changes in the government?
ANSWER: The President has suggested that two persons should leave and I have replaced them. I believe it shows I am no dictator, as some people argue, but very tolerant.
Q: Do you say that because you have converted Ramos-Horta in a super-Minister after he has criticized your management?
A: Mr. Ramos-Horta has three personalities: Foreign [Affairs] minister, Peace Nobel Prize and a person. I appreciate the Peace Nobel Prize one more.
Q: But he will be your Defence minister.
A: Maybe the Nobel will bring Peace to Defence!
Q: Have you learnt any lessons from the [current] crisis?
A: Many. The first one is that such a young and small country has to create Estate security with solid bases and rigorous criteria in electing its responsible personnel. The second, that it has to think very clearly which reforms to undertake in order to maintain its national sovereignty, because foreign powers prefer us to be dependent rather then independent.
Q: Do you think these [foreign] powers have to do with the initial crisis?
A: I have no doubts that foreign interests are in play.
Q: Do you not feel responsible?
A: The PM is the main responsible for everything.
Q: But you do not resign.
A: If I thought that it would save the country, I would. But if I did resign I would only aggravate the problem. I do not want to be a martyr because I am not, but I cannot give that step. My party has already demonstrated that it can bring 200.000 people to Dili.
Q: Do you think the crisis is over?
A: No. We have a humanitarian crisis because there are thousands of refugees that need help; and an institutional [crisis] because the administration is working less then 50% and the Parliament is not yet working.
Q: International troops are responsible for the Estate’s security. Does that mean that East Timor has lost its sovereignty?
A: Naturally. But it is only part of a temporal [lost of] sovereignty to avoid further blood spilt.
Q: Did you imagine that ethnical hatred between Lorosae (East) and Loromonu (West) would be like this?
A: I am very surprised. During the war for independence against Indonesia I was away, but before that problem did not exist. It arouse in 1999, at the end of the [Indonesian] invasion. This heritage is the worst Indonesia left us.
Q: Is there an ethnical division in the country?
A: I do not think so. If there were this would be irreversible.
Q: Do you suppose that this crisis represents the end of East Timor’s dream?
A: The dream is getting harder and harder. We gave a long step back. I do not yet know how long but a long one. But we shall make a great effort to return to normality. We have money. We are the only third world country with no external debt.
Q: But many young people cry: Communist, Muslim, Mozambiquean, arrogant.
A: We all know where this country’s idea of independence comes from. And if they do not know it, they should learn it. Some have died, the struggle goes on. In those days nobody talked about my religion or my character. We were adventurous, half-an-island between two giants. We achieved independence and I suddenly became a foreigner. Arrogant? Even my family says so. But I have sensibility. What I do not have is that Javanese culture of smiling to everyone and then stag them in the back. As to Communist, I cannot see how East Timor could be Communist when no one else is it anymore.
Q: Do you believe that the [internal] struggle for power detonated the crisis?
A: Yes. But not between the President and myself. That is false.
Q: Did Ramos-Horta want to be PM?
A: If he wants to be, I recommend him to return to Fretilin or to create a new party.
Q: Any message to the international community?
A: That it assume its responsibility. Three months ago we requested support from the UN, suggesting to the Council to send a small mission and they have decided not to. And they have seen that we had reasons to ask for it. Maybe someone wanted to avoid a multilateral presence in order to have a bilateral one.