Delivered in Plenary - 15th June 2006
It saddens me that back in 1999 I made my maiden speech in the European Parliament on East Timor, shortly before the United Nations sent in a peacekeeping force which paved the way for its eventual independence. To date, it remains the youngest member of the United Nations, as from 2002.
Here we are again debating violent unrest in the territory and once again Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia have had to intervene to establish law and order in what is now a sovereign State.
I would particularly like to express appreciation of the efforts made by Australia in its region in its peacekeeping role, as we recently also saw in the case of the Solomon Islands. I support the efforts made by President Xanana Gusmao and the international community to bypass the prime minister, who seems to be refusing to resign and is very intransigent, and to disarm the paramilitary groups, re-establish law and order and enable aid and reconstruction to flow back into the territory.
I am sure this House will support the European Union and the United Nations in whatever way is necessary to achieve lasting piece and reconciliation on this tragic but beautiful remote island.