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Timor-Leste now

International Relations

A Poet, Political Prisoner & People’s Leader

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão speaks on the effects of war, the challenges of reconstruction and hopes for tomorrow

Prime Minister Gusmão Prime Minister Gusmão
What do you want the world to know about Timor-Leste?

We are in a process of building the state. The international community can trust that we will fulfill these expectations. We believe in our commitment.

How would you characterize your relationship with the United States?

We have a very good relationship with the United States. We face big challenges, and I believe the fact that we are open to each other will increase our closeness. If we go step-by-step, we believe we will succeed.

What do you believe is Timor- Leste’s contribution to the world?

Our contribution is to make sure we help other countries like Timor-Leste. We are on the right path because, from the beginning, we did things in the proper way.

What do you see as the role of government in the lives of citizens?

The government has to look after the people because these people created the state. We put in everything to achieve this goal: we have to be transparent and create the right conditions for the private sector. We have to prepare, educate and provide jobs for our youth. We owe it to the sons and daughters of this country to help them achieve their dreams when they have sacrificed so much.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing Timor-Leste?

The first is how we can best utilize our human resources.The second is how we can manage our wealth. We don’t want to waste these opportunities.

Why was it so important to quickly start reconciliation with Indonesia after the conflict?

It was for our survival. We have to work with all people for our stability and peace.

What have you learned in your struggles?

Whatever happened in the past has happened. We cannot forget about the capacity to forgive. Forgiveness gives us our freedom, and we have to be free in every aspect.

When you were in solitary confinement, you used that time to focus on Timor-Leste. You said you often reflected on your comrades and considered their suffering and struggles. What have their sacrifices meant?

It means everything–everything. People accepted their sacrifices for another life. And, now, we are building the nation. We remember the lives [lost] and conditions they were in. When we talk about providing funding for veterans and the elderly, it is because they need everything. We are independent through the sum of their sacrifices.

When you talk about gratitude, what are some of the experi- ences that come to mind?

There are so many occasions when somebody saved my life.

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