Ramos-Horta Sworn Into Office, 19 May 2020

May 20, 2022 | Features

On 19 May, 2020, Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta was sworn into the office of President, Timor-Leste.

In his inaugural speech, delivered in four languages, the newly sworn in President called for national unity between rival parties, saying that he would “fulfill with loyalty the functions that have been invested in me… and will dedicate all my energies and knowledge to the defence and consolidation of independence and national unity,” adding that “Peace will only be real and lasting when it is achieved through dialogue and mutual respect in which neither party feels coerced and humiliated,” he added, addressing a crowd of military and diplomatic personnel.”

He spoke of expanding bilateral relations with China, and praised the United States for its part in developing the country’s infrastructure, saying ““I intend to continue to foster this special relationship with more specifically I emphasize the importance of the Millennium Challenge Cooperation Program.”

Ramos-Horta stressed the importance and value of the island nation’s relationships with its neighboring countries. 

“I have always advocated and will continue to advocate that our relations with Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Southeast Asian countries, geographically close to Timor-Leste must be at the top of our national agenda,” he said. “We must explore effective ways of greater economic and commercial integration and cooperation in the areas of defense and security, namely maritime security,” noting that Japan has been a generous partner for Timor-Leste: “We are grateful for Japan’s support in particular in the infrastructure sector, namely the construction of the new terminal at Dili Airport.”

He thanked former colonial ruler Portugal, whose leader President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was in attendance at the ceremony.

Read full text of speech in English