Earth Times Posted : Fri, 23 Oct 2009 18:10:39 GMT - New York - The European Union concurred with the United Nations Friday on the need to strengthen East Timor's capability to handle its own security before the UN mission there can be withdrawn. During a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation of East Timor, known also as Timor Leste, Swedish Ambassador Anders Liden said the island nation's recent successful elections and relief to displaced people are signs of maturity.
"At the same time, the process of handing over responsibilities to the national police force must continue with a view to setting the ground for a future transition and drawdown of the UN mission," Liden said. Sweden currently holds the rotating EU chairmanship.
The EU is among organizations and countries that provide significant financial assistance to the government in Dili. The UN mission in East Timor has about 2,800 staff, most of them international police sent to train an East Timorese police force.
The international community has provided security and development aid for East Timor since it gained independence from Indonesia 10 years ago.
Thailand's UN Ambassador Norachit Sinhaseni, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called for clarity in the UN mission's future presence in East Timor in order to work out an effective transition to the national police force.
"We should all strive for a nation-building process that is a process of, by and for the people of Timor-Leste," Sinhaseni said. "ASEAN stands firm in solidarity of Timore-Leste as a regional partner and, above all, a friend."
The UN special envoy for East Timor, Atal Khare, told the council that Dili held local elections in October in a "generally peaceful atmosphere" with the help of the UN and national police. Some 67 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots.
Khare said national elections planned in 2012 would require more international support, including helicopters, to face emergency situations.
"The touchstone for success in Timor-Leste is not whether or not crises occur, but how future crises are met and resolved," Khare said. "The goal should be to ensure that there are handled in a responsible manner that does not threaten the state, and instead provide an opportunity for enhanced social cohesion and development."
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