29 September 2013

Fundasaun Mahein (FM); Progress and Challenges for Timor-Leste's Defence Cooperation Efforts

ETLJB 27 September 2013 - Fundasaun Mahein has released the English translation of its report and recommendations on international defence cooperation. The text of the translation follows.

This report examines defence cooperation efforts between Timor-Leste and neighboring countries such as Australia and Indonesia, countries in the ASEAN region, countries in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLC), and other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Timor-Leste has active partnerships with countries in these areas and hopes to strengthen cooperation in F-FDTL related activities through bilateral channels, to continually help promote the F-FDTL's visibility and presence in the international community. However, it should be recognized that defence cooperation has been achieved along with challenges.

Defense partnerships among ASEAN countries and other economic-partnership countries in the ASEAN and Asia Pacific region have not yet been officially recognized through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). To date, they have only been agreed upon between military institutions. This has concerned the F-FDTL's leadership, who have requested that the government consider legal agreements to recognise Timor Leste's defence cooperation with foreign countries.

The legal agreements (MoU) will decide the form of cooperation and guarantee all activities that are to be conducted by Timor-Leste and partnership countries. Though certain progress has already been achieved in defence cooperation, this legal agreement will provide official recognition and legitimacy to these activities.

Recommendations:

1. Recommend to the government to continue strengthening bilateral cooperation with countries in the ASEAN region, Asia Pacific region and countries in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLC) in order to further develop the F-FDTL. The government should create a clearly defined F-FDTL advanced training policy in order to better respond to global threats in the ASEAN and Asia Pacific region.

2. Recommend to the government to review the Status of Foces Agreement (SOFA) accord between Timor-Leste and the United States, which includes approving the signing of an MoU by the National Parliament.

3. Recommend to the government to change from soft cooperation to hard cooperation, specifically with regard to the military's strategy to increase the F-FDTL capacity to equal the military capacity of other countries in the ASEAN and Asia Pacific region. Source: FM Press Release 27/09/2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright

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