Friday, May 21, 2004

Economic independence for Timor!

East Timor turned two yesterday - but spent most of the time worrying about its lack of economic resources required to rebuild the country.

What really bites is that the resources are there - Timor is literally sitting on billions of dollars worth of oil and natural gas. Unfortunately, its currently subject to a border dispute with Australia, who are refusing to give it up and are trying to use their economic muscle (and control of aid money) to monster the fledgling country into signing away their rights - despite the fact that the Timorese position is the standard one in international law.

And what is the New Zealand government doing about this? Nothing. We have taken a strong role in helping Timor along the path to independence, but Timor will never be truly independent until it can stand on its own two feet economicly - and that isn't going to happen if Australia gets its way on the border. As a country which traditionally supports international law, we should be using our close relationship with Australia to argue for the Timorese cause. Friends don't let friends bully their neighbours.