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Australia, Indonesia and East Timor

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Australia, Indonesia and East Timor

“No relationship offers greater potential, on the social, the cultural or economic fronts, than this one with Indonesia. If we fail to get this relationship right, and nurture and develop it, the whole web of foreign relations is incomplete.” Paul Keating, 1994

‘Sentimental notions of self-determination for the East Timorese… threatens our national security.”

Richard Woolcott

 “Thus the safety, aspirations and freedom of the Timorese were to be sacrificed so that Australia could remain secure.”

Anthony Burke, 2001

 “There are far too many Timorese who can enjoy no fruits from Australia’s Timor initiative because its weaknesses contributed to their deaths.” Bill Maley, 2000


L13 – Australia, Indonesia and East Timor

The ‘30 September 1965 Coup’ and the Overthrow of Sukarno

  • The destruction of the PKI and ‘the worst massacre in the 20th Century’

  • The involvement of the ‘West’

  • The rise of General Soeharto


The 1975 Indonesian Invasion of East Timor

  • Whitlam: ‘Invade, but do it nicely’

  • Civil War and Fretilin declaration of independence

  • 7 December 1975 – Invasion

  • 1978-9 Australia recognises Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor


1980s & 1990s – The height of Australian-Indonesian relations

  • Military Co-operation

    • The Agreement on Maintaining Security – AMS (1995)

  • Economic Co-operation

    • The Timor Gap Treaty (1989)

  • The Dili Massacre (1991)

From the video footage of the Dili Massacre, 1991


Towards an Independent East Timor

  • 11 June 1999

    • UNAMET (UN Assistance Mission in East Timor)

  • 30 August 1999

    • Ballot in East Timor

  • Post-ballot Violence

  • 20 September 1999

    • INTERFET (The International Force in East Timor)

  • 25 October 1999

    • UNTAET (UN Transitional Authority in East Timor)

  • 20 May 2002

    • The Democratic Republic of East Timor achieves Independence


From a human rights disaster to a foreign policy success?

  • An Australian Foreign Policy success:

    • Decisive, Multilateral, popular, professional ultimately successful

  • A Australian Foreign Policy failure:

    • Failure to stop the violence, lack of regional leadership

The decapitated body of a Timorese man is dragged through the streets of Dili, September 1999


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