Israel and Timor-Leste

Amira Arnon
Ambassador of Israel to Timor-Leste

A lot in Common

The first breathtaking view which unfolded to my eyes from above, while still on the plane to Dili, was the white, beautiful and untouched beaches. I could not wait for the opportunity to enjoy those beaches and to touch the deep blue water of pacific. In deed, on my first visit to Timor-Leste I took a swim among corals and the little colourful fish, in the warm and crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. No doubt, this is one of the advantageous adventure Timor-Leste has to offer foreign investors who are searching for new potential Pacific resorts and hideaways for tourists.

I had the privilege to visit Dili and to have first hand impression of the views and the people, in particular while exploring the mountaineer area where you can feel the sensation of fresh smell of the coffee bushes along the roads. No doubt, Timor-Leste has unique potential offers which yet to be explored.

Let me give our readers a short overview of the relations between Israel and Timor-Leste and the prospect for future developments. The first thing that comes to my mind is that both countries, Israel and Timor-Leste, have a lot in common. Both are small countries which fought for their independence and sacrificed best of their people for a national redemption. Both shed tears for their dear ones lost in battles but both are decisive in achieving their goals for prosperity, liberation and peace. Above all, Israel is well aware of the friendship that Timor-Leste bestowed upon us along with its good intention and warm attitude. For that we are grateful.

Israel was among the first countries to recognize the young state Timor-Leste its establishment in 2002. Our first Ambassador to Timor-Leste presented his credentials on August 2005 and since the Ambassadors of Israel to Singapore are accredited to Timor-Leste. Myself, I have presented my letter of credentials to President Jose Ramos Horta on October 2009 right after arriving to Singapore. The leaders and officials in key positions in the government and community of Timor-Leste impressed me with their high motivations to work hard in order to achieve the economic and social goals for their young country. Many of them reiterated the fact that Israel serves as a role model for their dreams. This is why I took it upon myself to push forward and to quickly find the right venues if cooperation. In November 2009 we invited a high level diplomat- Ambassador Abel Guterres, to a special seminar for South East Asian diplomat, led by Minister of Foreign Affairs in Israel. During the seminar, Ambassador Guterres was exposed to political and social world; He toured the country and met high level officials for briefings. Upon returning to Dili, Ambassador Guterres expressed in his report his impressions of Israel along with his appreciation to the successful economy and technological innovations of our country. His experiences, which were written in a very warm attitude, enhanced our plans to repeat the program and to renew the seminar this year. It goes without saying that we will again invite a diplomat from Timor-Leste.

Our first national day celebration took place in Dili in May 2010 and this year again we will celebrate Israel Independence day in Dili. I am proud to tell our readers that already the most significant achievement of our relations so far was the State Visit of President Jose Ramos Horta to Israel, hosted by the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. During the five days visit which took place two weeks ago (13-18 February 2011), President Ramos Horta and his delegation have met with the leaders of Israel, The President, Prime Minister, Minister of defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Speaker of the Parliament (the KNESSET), the chief of the Navy who hosted the President in the Israel Central Navy Command Base in Haifa and welcomed him with a Guard of Honor. The President and his prominent delegation visited the holy sites, the Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and enjoyed some of Israel´s most explored places and enjoyed our food. In addition, a joint declaration between Timor-Leste and Israel was signed by the two ministers of foreign affairs.

Following the visit of President Ramos Horta, I am confident that venues of cooperation discussed during his visit, such as water managements, agriculture and maritime security, will materialize fast for the benefit of our two countries.

I am looking forward to my next visit in Dili and to keep the tradition of exploring your beautiful country in addition to my official meetings.

* Magazine, Presidência da República- Maio 2011
-II série Nº. 4, pag. 27!

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