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Twenty Years after Referendum, Timor-Leste Today a Thriving Democracy, Showcasing Power of Diplomacy, Secretary-General Says in Message to Commemoration Event

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the event in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the referendum in Timor-Leste, in New York today:

It is with emotion, humility and joy that I join this celebration and convey to the people of Timor-Leste my most fraternal greetings.  I have always been a strong advocate for the people of Timor-Leste and their undeniable right to self-determination.

Indeed, if there is something that I am proud of in my many years of public life, it is to have dedicated myself to this cause and to have done for it what I could.  I vividly remember the joy I felt 20 years ago, when I heard the results of the referendum, as well as the harrowing weeks that followed, until it was finally possible to convince the international community of the need to act.

I also recall the exemplary partnership of the people of Timor-Leste with the United Nations.  This strong and deep collaboration makes me very proud, especially now as Secretary-General of the Organization.

The United Nations is honoured to have accompanied you in the path to independence, and to continue with you on this fantastic trajectory.

The legacy is there to be seen.  Timor-Leste has become a thriving democracy, where human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic power change are respected.  Today we celebrate this inspiring progress.  By showing the power of multilateralism, diplomacy and political solutions, Timor-Leste has inspired the world.

You can count on the support of the United Nations — and my personal support — in your efforts to build an increasingly inclusive, prosperous and promising future.

For information media. Not an official record.