Timor-Leste/Australia Hametin Akordu Defeza

DCP Talks Address Illegal Maritime Activities, English-Language Education
From Tempo Semanal Edition 145 29 June 2009

The Defence Cooperation Program, and Timor-Leste Government and Defence Force last week

Secretary of the State for Defence Dr Julio Tomas Pinto, F-FDTL Commander Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, and Director General of the Pacific and East Timor Defence Cooperation Program (DCP) Air Commodore Anthony Jones met on Friday 26 June 2009 with other members of the DCP to discuss the program’s progress and future plans.

A statement by the Defence Cooperation Program praised the F-FDTL’s progress since early 2008, and said, “The next twelve months will see an expansion in Australian Defence Cooperation Program activities to support the F-FDTL”.

Secretario do Estado de Defeze - Julio Tomas Pinto

Secretario do Estado de Defeze - Julio Tomas Pinto

The three representatives signed a document stating the DCP will expand “To support the continuing development of the F-FDTL,” by nearly doubling the capacity of F-FDTL’s English-Language Program at Metinaro; gradually increasing maritime security assistance; providing advanced infantry training for F-FDTL; and increasing cooperation in the fields of engineering and nation-building.

The document also stated that “Timor-Leste and Australia will continue to frankly exchange ideas on the implementation of defence cooperation activities and future areas of engagement between our two nations,” indicating hopes for honest and open communication when developing Timor-Leste’s future military capacity.

The talks’ dialogue embodied this agreed-upon frankness, with Air Commodore Jones stating that the DCP was particularly focused on expanding Timor-Leste’s naval capabilities through providing advisors to “develop their capability to patrol and protect the Timor-Leste maritime borders”, and in training F-FDTL patrol boat crews in Australia and Timor-Leste, “to protect the maritime environment”.

“We know the TL govt and the TL people are very concerned about what is going on in their exclusive economic zones and in their maritime areas, particularly in regard to illegal fishing. Australia’s very eager to support the TL govt in making sure their maritime boundary is secure, and that the activities that are going on in that exclusive economic zone are well-known and well-managed by the Timor-Leste govt,” said Air Commodore Jones.

Dr Tomas Pinto agreed that maritime security is a priority for Timor-Leste’s Defence authorities, stating, “The DCP talks are talking about how Australia will assist us to work together closely with the navy to control our sea. One of the important issues we talked about here is maritime surveillance. This is important also for TL,” said Dr Tomas Pinto.

Dr Tomas Pinto also said the Government of Timor-Leste is experiencing problems with illegal immigration from Bangladesh, and that it has requested assistance from the Australian Government to address this issue.

Air Commodore Jones and the Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Phil Heywood, said the DCP would share with F-FDTL its information and experiences in speaking with the Indonesian navy about dealing with these issues, and in developing future “trilateral cooperation”.

All parties at the talks particularly appreciated the DCP’s decision to provide new instructors and facilities to the F-FDTL English-language program.

Air Commodore Jones said, “We understand that there was an increasing demand from F-FDTL for more English-language capacity, and we’re very happy to support that”.

“It really is the key to significant trainng opportunities.”

Air Commodore Jones also mentioned the new Australian Defence Minister would visit Timor-Leste within the next two to three months. The previous Defence Minister recently resigned following repeated allegations of improper conduct involving his brother and a Chinese businesswoman.

Air Commodore Jones thanked Dr Tomas Pinto and Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak for their support, saying, “I know it’s not often easy to accept and coordinate the activities that we provide, but we appreciate that”.

Dr Tomas Pinto ended the talks in saying to the Commodore, “Thanks for you, because Australia is still committed to helping us. We also thank Australia and New Zealand as well, because you assisted us in difficult times, and now you are assisting us again”.

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