On May 6th, 2015, Center for Politics Research LIPI held a Public Lecture with theme "East Timor in the Context of Regional Security" that attended by Dr. Julio Thomas Pinto, former Defense Minister of East Timor. In this public lecture, Dr. Julio expressed East Timor progress at preparations for become ASEAN member. According to him, only Singapore that had stated their supports to East Timor to join ASEAN. Become a member of ASEAN, according to Dr. Julio, is important for East Timor, in fact that East Timor is also a new country in Southeast Asia Region. In addition, Dr. Julio declared that East Timor also not have an intention in creating tensions in the region. However, although East Timor is not member of ASEAN yet, East Timor has been involving in football competition at ASEAN level.
In the context of bilateral relations, one of East Timor priority is to build a harmonious relationship with the neighbors-countries, especially Indonesia and Australia. Although there are some issues in the relation between those countries, such as issue of sea borders with Australia and land borders with Indonesia, but still sought negotiations to solve problems. Dr. Julio stated that reconciliation experience with Indonesia will facilitate the settlement of the land borders problem. On the other hand, in 2011, East Timor was signed a defense agreement with Indonesia. This agreement, said Dr. Julio, is an important agreement because Indonesia and East Timor have a similar history. Then, on the early independence, East Timor signed a MOU with USA in the field of disaster management and had a defense agreement with Portugal particularly training for East Timor’s army. With Australia, East Timor open discussion about defense, but no agreement yet.
In question and answer session, questions that arose from the participants in the discussion are around the relationship of Timor-Leste and Indonesia. This is because, however, East Timor was part of Indonesia in the past. One question that arose was about the teaching of history of Indonesia in East Timor, and also language as well as the official language used in East Timor. In his explanation, Dr. Julio said that the history of Indonesia is one of the subject in their national curriculum since Indonesia's history is important for East Timor as a foundation for East Timor’s nation building. In addition, East Timor also do not want to repeat the dark history that has ever happened in Indonesia. Related to that, East Timor currently have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Cultural Center of Indonesia. In terms of language, Timor Leste recognizes Indonesian as the language of work (working language) which set out in its constitution, beside Portuguese, English and the local language (Tetum).
Dr. Julio suggested that the greatest internal threat that faced by East Timor is unemployment as well as local thuggery. In defense sector, East Timor has upheld the vision of military professionalism by opposing military involvement in politics, and only send troops to learn and practice in democracy countries. It is because East Timor’s trauma to Suharto's New Order regime. In the case of political leadership regeneration in East Timor, Dr. Julio said that basically East Timor political structure has been providing a great opportunity for the young generation. However, the existance of the old generation in government are strived for readiness the regeneration of political cadre of the next generation. (Translated into English by Fathimah Fildzah Izzati)