||Issue No. 138||31 May 2002|
Interview: The Star Chamber
Politics: The Odd Couple
Media: Audiences Before Politics
International: The Off-Side Rule
Economics: The Fake Persuaders
History: Terror Tactics
Poetry: Food, Modified Food
Review: Spiderman Spins Out the US
Satire: England's World Cup Disaster: Star Hooligan Breaks Foot
The Locker Room
Week in Review
In Defence of Latham
Swans A Pathetic Con-Job
East Timorís MPs Take Australia On
By HT Lee
Alkatiri thought he had an understanding with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer over lunch in Canberra just before independence that the issue of maritime boundaries is still on the table for discussion after the signing of the Timor Sea Treaty (TST) on 20 May.
'He made it clear at the lunch that they are prepared, they are ready to negotiate the maritime boundaries. This is the reality,' Alkatiri told ABC journalist Karen Snowdon in an interview for the Asia Pacific program recently:
This is the second time an 'understanding' Alkatiri had with Australia had gone soured. Alkatiri and the East Timor Transitional Authority (ETTA) negotiating team lead by Peter Galbraith were also led to believe the signing of the 5 July 2001 Timor Sea Arrangement would preclude Australia issuing 'exploration or exploitation of petroleum in areas outside the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) that are on the seabed claimed by East Timor.'
However, on 22 April this year, Australia issued a bid in the area known as NT02-1-- just outside the JPDA and adjacent to Greater Sunrise--an area that East Timor is contesting as within their rightful seabed boundary.
Commenting on this latest development, East Timorese opposition MP, Eusebio Guterres said he hoped Prime Minister Alkatiri will in future not fall into the trap of agreeing to 'a gentlemen's agreement or understanding' unless it is written down and signed somewhere on some piece of paper.
'In international politics and treaties, unless it is written down, it does not mean a thing,' Eusebio said.
Many East Timorese oppositions MPs and local NGOs have criticised the TST because under the treaty, 80% of Greater Sunrise--the largest of the oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea--falls within Australia's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Greater Sunrise has a gas reserve of 300 million barrels of condensate and 177 million tonnes of LNG, and is expected to return an estimated tax revenue expressed in cumulative dollars of the day of US$36 billion.
A working group-- consisting of local MPs and NGOs opposed to the treaty--the Independent Centre for Advocacy Research of Timor Sea (ICARTS)--has been established.
ICARTS is putting together a position paper calling on the East Timorese Parliament not to ratify the TST. ICARTS also wants East Timor to lodge an appeal with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
According to Eusebio, Australia's intention of refusing to negotiate with East Timor over the maritime boundaries has left East Timor with no choice but to appeal to the international tribunal.
'East Timor's Parliament must, without any further delay, enact a legislation mapping out our seabed and maritime boundaries claims, and file an application with the ICJ at the Hague,' Eusebio said.
31 May 2002
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