President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
Noble Peace Prize Laureate 1996
to the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
NEW YORK, 25 SEPTEMBER 2008 Mr. President, Majesties,Heads of States and Government, Ministers, Excellencies, First, it is my duty to congratulate you Mr. President for your well deserved election to preside over the 63rd session of the General Assembly.
I now turn to the situation in my own country.
On 11th February I was almost fatally shot. I escaped by an act of God and thanks to the professionalism and dedication of doctors and nurses at the Australian army medical centre in Dili and the doctors and nurses in the Darwin Royal Hospital.
To them and to all who have prayed for my life and recovery. I reiterate my eternal gratitude. I stood at the frontier between Life and Death, saw darkness of death and the beauty of life that I almost left behind.
The attack on me and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao shocked the nation and my near death served to unite the people in opposing violence. Since then the situation in Timor-Leste has been the most peaceful in many years without any politically motivated violence registered so far and even common criminality has been significantly reduced.
The Government led by Mr. Xanana Gusmao, a resistance hero, has made enormous efforts in stabilizing the country and in delivering services to the people. The progress is visible. A growing number of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) caused by the 2006 crisis is returning home. Most camps that existed for two years are now empty.
More than 700 former soldiers who were at the origin of the 2006 mutiny have accepted a Government financial package and returned home.
On the economic front, our real GDP will register 7% growth by the end of this year. However, if we factor in oil and gas revenues. our economic growth will be around 19%. While our real annual per capita GOP is less than US$400, this figure jumps to over US$4,000 if we factor in oil and gas revenues.
However, we would not have succeeded in pulling back from the brink without the prompt and steadfast support from the international community. I thank the Secretary-General and through him the entire UN family and in particular those serving in my country in different capacities for their selfless contribution to preserving peace in Timor-Leste.
I also thank Australia and New Zealand for maintaining a robust and credible security force in my country in assistance to, and close coordination with, our government and UNMIT under the leadership of Dr. Atul Khare, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who is a most compassionate human being, and a dedicated and tireless professional.
The professionalism of the International Security Forces is visible to all and the behaviour of the soldiers is irreproachable. The same can be said of the UN police force in my country comprising police from 40 countries with particular reference to Formed Police Units from Portugal. Pakistan, Malaysia and Bangladesh.
We are blessed by The Almighty with non-negligible resources and can count on the generosity of our development partners but challenges remain complex and multifaceted. However, with a shared vision and commitment to serve the poorest of our people, I'm confident we will meet the Millennium Development Goals. We cannot fail. We shall not fail.
May God the Almighty and the Merciful bless us All. END