146 Cablegram to Canberra

Lisbon, 13 June 1975


Lisbon Meeting of Committee of 24: Portuguese Timor

Following are extracts from (a) Indonesian Statement and (b) Australian Statement on 12 June dealing with Portuguese Timor.

A 'My delegation has taken particular note of that part of the Statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal which referred to the decolonization of what is called Portuguese Timor. Being its closest neighbour, Indonesia is of course most directly interested in the process of decolonization in that territory.

My delegation hopes that the process of decolonization in Portuguese Timor will be carried out with the broadest participation of all segments of the indigenous population on a non-discriminatory basis. All political groupings must be given full and equal opportunity to rally support for their views amongst the population, without threat or coercion, and to participate without restrictions in activities in preparation of the exercise of the right of self-determination through a referendum. It is the responsibility of the administering power to prepare the population in a democratic manner for the act of self-determination in order that they will be able to exercise that right with full awareness of the implications of their decision for their own future.

Some speculations have been expressed on Indonesia's intentions with regard to the territory. Indonesia has stated on many occasions that she does not have territorial ambitions. Indonesia has always respected and upheld the U.N. Declaration on Decolonization (Resolution 1514 (XV))1 which in principle guarantees the right of every people to exercise freely their right of self-determination. We will certainly continue to do so in the case of Portuguese Timor. It is a fact however that there is a movement among the population of Portuguese Timor for integration with Indonesia. If the population of Portuguese Timor in the free and democratic exercise of their right of self-determination should decide that they wish to become independent through integration with Indonesia, in view of the close ethnical and cultural links existing between the population of Portuguese Timor and Indonesia, especially that of the Indonesian part of Timor, Indonesia is prepared to welcome that territory as an integral part of the Indonesian State with the same rights and obligations as the other parts in accordance with its constitution. The existing links which have remained undiminished despite centuries of separation imposed by colonialism will undoubtedly contribute to a harmonious process of integration if such were to be the decision of the population of Portuguese Timor.

Mr Chairman, During the last 8 or 9 years, Indonesia has concentrated on national development, applying its resources and directing its efforts as a matter of priority to economic and social development and to strengthening its capacity to develop, to endure and to defend itself successfully against negative outside influences which is the essence of Indonesia's concept of national resilience. One of the most important factors for the success of its efforts in national development and consequently in strengthening its national resilience, is the existence of stability and security especially in the region of South East Asia and the Pacific to which Indonesia belongs. Indonesia cannot but view the process of decolonization in Portuguese Timor also from these important considerations of regional stability and security.

Indonesia is prepared to co-operate fully with Portugal and with others, especially the neighbouring countries, and in particular with Australia, another close neighbour of that territory, to assist and facilitate the process of decolonization in Portuguese Timor. The population in that territory should be in a position to exercise their right of self-determination through a referendum in peace and tranquility, and in dignity, fully aware of the consequences of whatever decision they may take. My delegation sincerely hopes that their decision will be conducive to their own prosperity and well-being and at the same time that it will be a positive contribution to the stability, security, progress and well-being of the entire region of South East Asia and South West Pacific.'

B 'One of the smaller non-African Portuguese territories, Portuguese Timor, has been referred to in the course of our meeting. Australia's attitude towards Portuguese Timor is of course based on the principles of the United Nations. Australia is firmly wedded to the right to self-determination for all colonial people.

We do not seek any special position in Portuguese Timor and the wishes of the people of the territory concerning their emergence into complete freedom should be decisive. Australia will accept whatever decision the people of Portuguese Timor may reach in determining their own future. It has been suggested that they will wish to associate themselves with Indonesia. If this was so, Australia would accept it provided that the decision was based on a well prepared process of self-determination. We believe that the Timorese people should be allowed to proceed deliberately towards the decision about their future.

We do place emphasis on the question of proceeding at a deliberate pace. The rate of progress will depend on what is possible and practical. In particular cases, and Timor may be one of them, the real aspirations of the people may need time to crystallise.'

[NAA: A10005, 202/113, viii]