Strengthening Friendship: People to People
Haforsa Relasaun Amizade: Husi Povo ba Povo

Maubisse, Timor-Leste
27 & 28 August 2010

Strengthening Friendship panel

The Australia Timor-Leste Friendship movement has committed itself to continuing the Friendship process for the next ten years. At the end of the first ten years of the Australia Timor-Leste Friendship movement, each of the Friendship groups attending the ‘Strengthening Friendship: People to People’ conference held in Maubisse over 27-28 August, recommitted themselves to a further ten years of Friendship with the people of Timor-Leste.

The Australian Friends of Timor-Leste at the conference also unanimously voted in favor of the Australia Timor-Leste Friendship Network (AusTimorFN) establishing a website in cooperation with State Administration to share information between Friends in Timor-Leste and Friends in Australia. The conference brought together more than 100 people from Friendship groups in Australia and Timor-Leste for what was Timor-Leste’s largest international conference outside Dili.

Addressing the conference, the President of Timor-Leste, HE Jose Ramos-Horta, highlighted the role played by the Friendship movement in underpinning relations between Timor-Leste and Australia. President Ramos-Horta said: ‘No country in the world has committed more than Australia to Timor-Leste.’

Strengthening Friendship Ramos-Horta

‘My hope,’ the President continued, ‘is for each suco in Timor-Leste to be adopted by a council in Australia. I want each school in Australia to adopt a school in Timor-Leste.’

Opening the conference, the Timor-Leste Minister for State Administration, Snr Archangelo Leite, said he warmly supported the Friendship movement and wanted to see it continue to develop and to progress. He said that governments come and go, but that friendship continued.

The Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, HE Peter Heyward, told the conference that the Friendship movement was a true symbol of the closeness of Australia and Timor-Leste. He said that the people to people relationships provided an underlying substance to more formal bilateral relations.

The conference addressed a number of themes, with the individual Friendship groups identifying the long-term commitment of both Australian and Timor-Leste friends to the movement as being their greatest strength, followed by the successes of their many local projects. Communication, including language, telephone, internet and sometimes road access, continued to be the biggest challenge to the movement. In his closing remarks, the Director of State Administration, Snr Abilio Caetano, referred to brothers and sisters coming together in love, peace and solidarity. He said that the challenges to the Friendship movement were in the process of being overcome.

The Convenor of AusTimorFN, Rae Kingsbury, offered her warm thanks to the participants to the conference, saying that the Friendship movement was owned by those people who comprised it.

Rae Kingsbury, Convenor Australia Timor-Leste Friendship Network (AusTimorFN)

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