Timor-Leste President Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo argued that the country should increasingly focus on the sea and its exploration as it is an important economic resource.
The president, who was speaking at the opening of the 1st International Conference on Maritime Affairs, under the theme, “Timor-Leste: The Century of the Sea,” considered the sea to be a national priority and called for policies to be developed with this in mind.
Lu-Olo said that the sea and the issues of the permanent demarcation of maritime and terrestrial borders with neighbouring countries should be “placed at the centre of public debate, becoming a national intention in the affirmation of national identity and sovereignty.”
Timor-Leste has lived “with its back turned” to the oceans, as evidenced by the fact that none of the eight Governments of the country have created a Ministry or a State Secretariat dedicated to the subject the president said.
The Strategic Development Plan for 2011-2030 and the Strategic Concept for Defence and National Security, which are cross-cutting for national development, “do not give due importance to the Sea and the interests that are preserved and contested in it,” he said.
The President rejected the idea that Timor-Leste is a small country when, as he said, “its continental shelf is quite large” and the country should be seen “not as a peripheral country but as a country of trans-oceanic articulation, which is situated on one of the four busiest sea trade routes connecting the Indian and Pacific oceans, which adds to its geostrategic potential.”
Lu-Olo also called for Timor-Leste “to create an inclusive Maritime Authority model that guarantees, from the outset, the collaboration of all civil and military entities, institutions, public or private,” that can contribute to a “climate of maritime security.” (macauhub)