By H. E. J. Ramos-Horta
President of the Republic
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
the State Banquet hosted by
His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni
King of Cambodia
Phonom Penh, The Royal Palace, 29th March 2011
Your Majesty, Excellency Prime Minister,
Distinguish Guests, Ladies and Gentleman,
It is a real delight to visit again Cambodia, a great country and people with thousands of years of history, rich in culture and epic battles for peace and freedom. I have visited Cambodian many times in the past on numerous occasions. I still remember how I was warmly welcome in 2003 when I first visited the Kingdom in my capacity as a Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and as recently as the early part of 2010.
Cambodia evokes in us profound admiration towards a people with an extraordinary will power and deep attachment to freedom and dignity; it symbolizes resilience, courage, bravery in times of war and in times of peace.
You have achieved remarkable peace consolidation and socio-political stability and reasserted your independence and sovereignty after years of instability.
After freeing yourselves from violence of the past, there were questions and doubts in the mind of some about the Cambodian leadership and people’s ability to rebuild the country from the ashes of war and extreme poverty.
But once again the indomitable Cambodian spirit was summoned and Cambodians are overcoming the challenges of post-war and today Cambodia is at peace and on steady national development with impressive economic growth and prosperity.
Your Majesty, Excellencies,
Our two countries share similar tragic histories and we have benefited from international solidarity and assistance, including a period under United Nations administration.
We have counted Cambodia as one of our best friend, a friend that understands the suffering and aspirations of our people. Since the restoration of our independence in 2002 the Kingdom of Cambodia stands out among others, never wavering in support of our efforts for national development at bilateral, our regional integration efforts including our quest for membership in ASEAN Regional Forum (2005) and accession to the treaty of Amity and Cooperation (2006).
Timor-Leste views membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as an integral part of our national efforts in peace consolidation and economic prosperity through this vibrant regional cooperation.
As peace and stability gain roots in our country and as our economy gains strength year by year with record double-digit growth, we believe that Timor-Leste will be an asset and a proud new ASEAN member.
ASEAN leaders have shown wisdom and understanding in opening the doors of this rich dynamic regional organization to Timor-Leste. We will do everything not to fail your support and the trust ASEAN leaders have placed on us and one way we can correspond to this trust is to continue to consolidate peace and stability and economic growth in our country. We will be an asset and not a burden to ASEAN.
We look forward to your continuing support, and the ASEAN leadership of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyno in 2011, and the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2012 to guide Timor-Leste into the ASEAN Family.
With a robust economic growth for the last three years, Timor-Leste is looking forward to expanding existing regional trade relations to include the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Your Majesty, Mr. Prime Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank you for the warm and generous hospitality extended to me and to my delegation since our arrival and I would like to extend a cordial invitation to your Majesty and Excellency Prime Minister to honor our people with a visit to Timor-Leste at a mutually convenient time.
May God the Almighty and the Merciful illuminate and guide us all in furthering friendship, solidarity, peace and prosperity in Asia and in the world.