Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.

David Stanton

Question:

56 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on East Timor and the Government's role in assisting the stable development of the country. [15026/02]

The formal declaration of independence by East Timor on 20 May 2002 marked its emergence as the first new state of the 21st century. Mr. David Andrews, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, represented the Government at the official independence ceremonies. He conveyed the Government's congratulations to President Gusmao, to Chief Minister Alkatiri and to Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta. Earlier this month, the Taoiseach, who had visited East Timor in March 2000, had a meeting in Dublin with Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta.

Our relations with East Timor have deepened steadily, reflecting a high level of Irish public sympathy and political support for the Timorese people in their struggle for independence. Since 1999, a total of €7.7 million has been provided by the Government in bilateral aid. This support, which began with emergency humanitarian assistance, has progressed to cover a range of recovery activities, including a number implemented by Irish NGOs. These have included support for the electoral process, voter education and media access; for human rights protection and promotion; for local and community recovery programmes; for agricultural recovery; and for capacity building in the health, education, water, sanitation, public administration and education sectors. The Government decided last year that its annual allocation for East Timor should be doubled to a figure in excess of €3 million.
The independence ceremonies marked a renewed determination on the part of the East Timorese people and their leaders to get down to the tasks of self-government and self-determination following the intervening period of UN transition and the successful holding of national and presidential elections. An independence support package of €2.32 million which was recently announced by the Government focuses on enhancing the working capacity of the new administration at this crucial time. It includes the equivalent of US$1 million to help meet day-to-day policy administration costs through a World Bank administered trust fund. It also provides €800,000 to help fill 165 specific, key technical posts across respective ministries which have been prioritised by the East Timorese leadership in conjunction with the UNDP. Other elements of the package include ongoing support for small quick-impact recovery projects at local level, core funding for the important work of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation and follow-up funding for equality promotion and analysis. This package marks the Government's initial delivery on a recommendation by the Ireland Aid Review Committee that our aid programme in East Timor should be strengthened.
Ireland Aid also funded the national consultations on planning which resulted in the adoption of a national development plan to coincide with independence. Technical planning is under way for a three-year programme which will succeed the transitional strategy through which Ireland Aid has been assisting East Timor during 2001-02. Ireland Aid has an office in Dili which is implementing our aid programme and building a very positive profile locally.