José Ramos-Horta, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Former President of East Timor, speaks at St Antony's College.
What the experience of Timor-Leste teaches us is that there are no short cuts to peace; peace is a journey that must be reached step by step, a foundation that has to be built block by block. In my country we had to heal the wounds of the body and the heart; we honoured the victims, we are caring for the survivors; and we decided not to be hostage of the past, not to succumb to anger and hatred.
When we fight for freedom, human dignity and justice, we fight because of our convictions and our conscience; but we only succeed in these noble endeavours if we also use our brains, our intelligence and common sense in pursuing these noble ideals and goals; we would be doomed to fail if we do not evaluate each and every situation and each and every step. After 24 years of a tumultuous relationship, Indonesia and Timor-Leste parted ways; in 2002 Timor-Leste achieved independence.
In spite of the tragic past of violence, even as almost every Timorese family were still mourning the loss of loved ones, the leaders of the two countries began a process of reconciliation and normalization of relations.
An illustration of how far and deep Indonesia-Timor Leste's relationship has developed after the tumultuous years of occupation and resistance (1975-1999), is the fact that Timor-Leste's ASEAN membership application has been most passionately championed by Indonesia. While in our own region, some had reservations about Timor-Leste's readiness to join ASEAN and become an effective member, Timor-Leste is playing a constructive and pro-active role elsewhere in the world and gaining sympathy and respect.