Timor-Leste Prime Minister speaks at IU
By Kate McNeal
The island Timor-Leste is transitioning from a post-conflict state to a successful state, Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araújo said Wednesday evening. Araújo spoke as part of the School of Global and International Studies’ Distinguished Diplomat Speaker Series.
“You may be asking yourselves why the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, a small country in Southeast Asia, would travel all this way to Bloomington, Indiana,” Araújo said. “We know that your University has a uniquely extraordinary agreement toward dialogue.”
Araújo became the prime minister in February 2015. Timor-Leste, a Southeast Asian island, was occupied by Indonesia for 25 years before gaining independence in 2002.
IU President Michael McRobbie introduced Araújo and spoke about the history of Timor-Leste and Araújo’s career history.
“(Araújo) was an active member of the resistance, supplying information on the occupation to the worldwide Timor-Leste diaspora, and acted as a courier for secret documents,” McRobbie said.
Araújo also served as a minister of health and policy and management adviser to the Ministry of Health in Timor-Leste. He said Timor-Leste wants self-sufficiency, not charity.
“We like to think of ourselves as a teenage country because we are only 14 years old,” Araújo said. “We would also like to see ourselves working hard to reach out in the upcoming years. In order to do that, since the very beginning, we focused on getting rid of factors that could increase fragility in our country.”
Araújo said the country needs support in order to reach its goals, and that IU is contributing to that. For example, there is a student from Timor-Leste working for his master’s degree at IU.
“We are very glad that Timorese people are having the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills in one of the best centers of excellence here in the United States,” Araújo said.
The School of Global and International Studies is writing a new chapter of the University as it looks increasingly toward Asia, Araújo said.
“I believe that many young people here who are studying international relations would look to the example that we have, not only Timor-Leste, but also in other parts of the world, as case studies that could improve and enlarge the skills that you are to acquire in order to be useful citizens for the future not only for your own country but in the world,” Araújo said.
After Araújo spoke, Lee Feinstein, Dean for the School of Global and International Studies, thanked him for sharing his story.
“We just had a tremendous lesson from you about what it takes to build a new nation, what the difference is between a liberation struggle and the effort to build a nation that works,” Feinstein said. “Timor-Leste and the plight of the Timorese people aroused the conscious of many people around the United States and around the world and today ... you are a model and an example.”
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