|AN INTERNATIONAL FORCE|
September 13, 1999
MARGARET WARNER: For more, we turn to two members of the United Nations team that was dispatched to Indonesia last week: Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the U.N., and Francesc Vendrell, deputy personal representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for East Timor. Both of them returned from Indonesia today. Welcome, gentlemen.
Ambassador Vendrell, I know you've both just come out of the Security Council meeting. Where do plans stand now... excuse me, ambassador Greenstock -- I meant to start with you -- where to plans stand now for actually dispatching this force?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK, U.N. Ambassador, United Kingdom: Well, Foreign Minister al Alatas of Indonesia is in New York to negotiate on that. Other key members of a potential force will be coming to New York. We want to get on with it. President Habibie told us yesterday in Jakarta that he wanted to go ahead as soon as possible, immediately he said, and the Security Council is ready to do work on a resolution within the next 48 hours. So we are moving very fast. We recognize the grave humanitarian crisis out there, and that is the top recommendation of the report we just put into the Security Council.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Vendrell, how quickly do you think the force could actually be deployed once the resolution is approved?
|How long before deployment?|
FRANCESC VENDRELL, United Nations: Well, I would think that it can be deployed within 48, 72 hours after approval at the very latest.
MARGARET WARNER: So, in other words, we're looking at what, perhaps four days, four to five days before forces arrive?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: I think that's a reasonable implication, although I have to admit that because I haven't been in New York, I can't be absolutely accurate about it.
MARGARET WARNER: And what information do you have about what's going on on the ground there now? There are some reports that some of the house burning is still taking place, some people are still being forcibly evicted?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: We haven't received enough information. My own understanding is the situation in Dili is calm. And most of the UNAMET staff have been evacuated.
MARGARET WARNER: That's your U.N. mission in Dili?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: Right. Have been evacuated there with the 1,500 -- approximately -- internally displaced persons who were in the compound. They're been evacuated to Australia.
MARGARET WARNER: Ambassador Greenstock, there have been conflicting reports about whether Indonesia wants to, is going to be able to put any conditions on the makeup of this force. Where does that stand?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: Foreign minister Alatas has said there will be no conditions. But of course Indonesia will want to do things to some extent her own way. We must expect that. This has got to be cooperation. We came back recommending cooperation between Indonesia and its international military force and it is Indonesia's de facto authority with which we have it deal. So these things will be worked out to some extent by negotiation. But the good sign is that both sides, the international community and Indonesia, want to get a move on.
MARGARET WARNER: But who will be in charge?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: I suspect that there will be two elements of this -- one Indonesian and one international. And they will liaise together. I don't think there will be an overall commander of both. But this will have to be done again by diplomatic and military negotiation, but it's quite workable.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Vendrell, this sounds as if you anticipate an ongoing role for the Indonesian military in East Timor.
FRANCESC VENDRELL: I would think that this is... this will be necessary. This is an MNF, a multinational force, being sent in with the consent of the government of Indonesia. And, therefore, cooperation between the two sides will be essential.
MARGARET WARNER: And while you were there, what conclusions did you come to about the degree of participation and responsibility of the Indonesian military in the violence that was inflicted in East Timor?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: Well, I think there is very little doubt that there was cooperation and participation by elements of the Indonesian armed forces. How high the responsibility went up is very hard to say.
MARGARET WARNER: Ambassador Greenstock, what would you add to that in terms of the participation of the Indonesian military and how high up the chain of command the responsibility went?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: It's difficult for a mission over four days to get deep into the truth of this. But I think no seasoned observer on the ground believes that these things are entirely by accident. I think the attitudes of senior people changed radically over the last few days -- partly because of the publicity of our visit, but more because of the reactions of the world and of senior leaders beginning to pull the plug on Indonesia if this didn't change.
I think there were many people who wanted to change the result of the ballot, who wanted to deny the East Timorese people their democratic expression. I think they are now having to think differently.
MARGARET WARNER: But do you... do you see any problem in having Indonesian military people who may have actually killed East Timorese now being responsible for the security there and working hand in hand with U.N. troops?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: Well, that's up to them. This is actually quite a seasoned military. They are sophisticated people. I think there will be some Rumar forces. I think General Wiranto understands there will have be to very professional forces, working in cooperation with the international community in the military sphere. He will put his best people into this and I think they will come from elsewhere. But that's up to him.
|The dangers of militias|
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Vendrell, what do you... how is the force going to deal with these anti-independence militias? In other words, what will be their mission vis-à-vis the members of those militias?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: Well, first of all, I think the militias will need to be neutralized. There is no place in East Timor for armed groups acting on their own. Certainly the impression is if the Indonesian armed forced cooperates with the multinational force, then the militias will fall into line.
MARGARET WARNER: I see. So in a way you're relying on the Indonesian military to sort of get control of and keep control of the militias?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: Well, if they don't, the multinational force will have to. It will be acting, the multinational force, under chapter seven of the charter.
MARGARET WARNER: And do you anticipate attempting ... is part of the mission of the force also going to be to be arresting people, members of the militias, who are suspected of having been involved directly in violence?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: This is too early to tell but I think it will continue to be the responsibility of the Indonesian authorities to do that.
MARGARET WARNER: Ambassador Greenstock, I'd like to go back to something we talked about earlier, which had to do with the composition of the force. In your answer you said "there are no conditions but... and I don't remember your exact words but the implication was that the Indonesians are going to have quite a bit to say about that.
Do you have any doubt the Australians will lead the force and that there will be participation by the Australians and New Zealanders and the Americans in some way?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: The international community is going to have to put in a really effective force. The Australians are an effective fighting machine and they're effective in this kind of peacekeeping. So we want the Australians there. We have to recognize that Indonesia is going through a very sensitive period of international and internal politics.
And our report points to the sensitivities of dealing with a proud and very important nation. These things will have to be agreed amongst the people concerned, but I feel we will have a force with a very strong Australian presence. It's going to be a strong force and it's going to deal with the sort of things you were talking about earlier.
MARGARET WARNER: And why -- what was your impression... I know your mission met a couple of times at least with President Habibie, why he finally changed his mind and agreed to let this force come in?
|President Habibie's cooperation|
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: I think President Habibie probably thought about this before we arrived. I believe that he is an honorable man with the interests of his country very much at heart. He saw that Indonesia was going to suffer internationally. He was actually, I think, quite shocked that -- maybe some of the things that were told to him earlier by his people had not turned out to be true. I think he was going along the same flow of opinion as the mission during the days that we were there. Eventually, it was the combination of those considerations, our mission bringing it right to his feet what was happening there, and the outside developments that combined to make him realize he had to persuade his cabinet to follow his better judgment. And I admire him for that.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Vendrell, General Wiranto said to reporters that when he went to Dili that he was shocked. Do you think he was shocked? Do you think he did not know what was going on?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: Well, I can't respond for General Wiranto but I do think he was face-to-face with reality when he was in Dili, just as we were and we were quite appalled by the situation and by the fact that the city had been virtually destroyed or burnt out and that all inhabitants, all the civilian population, had been either driven out or were in internal displaced person camps.
MARGARET WARNER: So staying with you, what is going to be the immediate priority in terms of dealing with all that devastation and destruction and all the displaced people?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: The first private is humanitarian. It is essential to start air drops. It is essential to begin to feed the population, to provide medical assistance and to also ensure that both the internally displaced persons in West Timor as well as in East Timor have access to health and food.
MARGARET WARNER: And will the U.N. force provide protection for them to return?
FRANCESC VENDRELL: I would think this will be part of the mandate of the U.N. force.
MARGARET WARNER: Ambassador Greenstock, what would you like to add to that in terms of the priorities and refugees that have been pushed over into West Timor?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: You were talking of a force of maybe up to 7,000. It's quite a large province. If you extend it to the refugees in West Timor, there's a lot to do. We can only do this in combination of with an Indonesian government that realizes that it's got the same priorities as the international community.
I think we will have to concentrate in the first instance on those who are starving and who are dying in the hills on the immediate security environment for Dili, I think we've should representatives to the refugee compounds and camps in West Timor to monitor what is going on there. But I think you will find if this is done efficiently the motivation of the militias and of the nasty people in East Timor are will fade away as they see that game is taken away from them. That's what I hope will happen very quickly.
MARGARET WARNER: These are being called peacekeeping troops, but is it possible they will face hostilities?
JEREMY GREENSTOCK: It's not impossible. But I say this again, I think that the motivation of the ... of the brutal, the nasty, the murderous people who have been active there, the bullies, if you like, will fade away when they see the real authorities coming in. We want to see that happen very quickly.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thank you Ambassador Greenstock and Mr. Vendrell, thank you both very much.