24 January 2010

SRSG Ameerah Haq opening remarks at UNMIT Press Conference

13 January 2010 Ameerah Haq Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste - Gyorgy Kakuk (UNMIT Spokesperson): Welcome everybody, Thanks for accepting our invitation for today's press conference which will be held by the newly appointed SRSG, Ameerah Haq. Perhaps you all know she arrived in Timor-Leste last week on the 5th of January. We are going to proceed with the SRSG's initial statement and then we will open up for questions. So please be prepared.

Ameerah Haq: Good morning everybody and thank you very much for coming here. I am really delighted to have an opportunity to speak with all of you today. First of all let me tell you how very pleased I am to be in your beautiful country. I have already had the privilege of meeting many of your leaders. It is a great honour for me to be here leading the efforts of the United Nations to help the people of Timor-Leste and Timorese authorities to continue to consolidate peace and development in your country.

It is exactly a week since I have been here. I remarked to many people how beautiful the country was as I was flying into Dili. And also in driving around Dili town I am very impressed at what I sense is a vibrancy in this town: internet cafes are full, shops are thriving. It is great to see how people are moving around in a town that is peaceful and secure.

I have had the privilege and honour to meet your President, the Prime Minister, the President of the National Parliament, the Secretary-General of Fretilin, among others. And just this morning I felt very privileged to have been able to address the Council of Ministers. I have felt very warmly welcomed by all.

I am also very impressed with the relationship, the depth of the relationship, between the United Nations and the people of Timor-Leste. This has been developed, as you know, over many years, and I am privileged to be leading the United Nations now to help the people in Timor-Leste to continue with nation- and state-building. I am committed to continuing the work that the United Nations has done here, and in my role as the leader of the United Nations I look forward to the invitations that I have had from your leadership for frank and cordial discussions on many issues that we both need to address.

Most of all I am really very happy to have this opportunity today to meet with all of you, as journalists and media. I consider that you have a very important role to play in the development of your country, and your role is absolutely vital to strengthening democracy. I think a free and independent media is one of the essential ingredients of democracy. You have a very important responsibility in conveying a lot of the key messages to the citizens of your country. Information is a source of empowerment. That power, I feel, must be used responsibly. I consider your role very important in making that information go out far and wide all through Timor-Leste. You as media have a very important role to play in advocacy, in setting policy agendas and in social and economic development.

In all of my work in the UN, which has been for quite a long time, I have always stressed that the relationship with the media is one of the ingredients that will make me a good leader of the United Nations. So I look forward to this relationship with all of you. And I know that you have a very good relationship already with our Public Information Office and I look forward to working with them so that we can address many of the challenging issues ahead of us.

Let me take this opportunity, then, as a piece of information, to tell you that right now in the country there is a Technical Assessment Mission of the United Nations. The role of this, we call it the TAM Mission, is to assess the requirements and the situation in Timor-Leste as it relates to the mission of UNMIT. Over a period that started in November there have been extensive consultations with many stakeholders, with the Government, with civil society and I think with the media, and also with bilateral donors. In this final week we have our colleagues who have come from New York and who are meeting with Government authorities, with Members of Parliament, with civil society and a broad range of stakeholders, and they are looking at what the role of UNMIT will be between now and 2012. We are very hopeful that the recommendations which we will all arrive at together will strengthen the partnership between the United Nations and the Government of Timor-Leste on focusing in what we can best do in the period between now and 2012.

Image added by ETLJB: An East Timorese rice farmer.

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