In 2019, with international guests in attendance, East Timorese celebrated the 20th anniversary of their independence referendum and the multinational mission of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET). They celebrated Timor-Leste's path to peace, stability and democracy. Monika Schlicher and Maria Tschanz have reflected upon what has been achieved so far and the challenges still facing them.
In contrast to ten years ago, Timor-Leste is no longer perceived as a fragile country in crisis. The demonstrable successes the country has achieved in terms of democracy and peace consolidation are remarkable, even if there undoubtely remains a lot of work to be done to consolidate these democratic advances.
Formerly, this negative assessment had held the East Timorese in a position of despondency. This is no longer true: They look upon the development of their country with great pride, having taken an increasingly active role in shaping their own future. Their persistent and successful struggle for self-determination has left them with renewed power and confidence.
Monika Schlicher is Director of the Stiftung Asienhaus and also in charge of the Focus Timor-Leste program. Since the end of the 1980s, the political scientist, historian and human rights activist has supported the people of Timor-Leste in a spirit of solidarity. She is engaged in public relations and lobbying in a lively exchange with East Timorese from the resistance, civil society organizations and politics.
Maria Tschanz worked with AGEH in the Civil Peace Service Programme in Timor-Leste from 2003-2007. She was employed by the women’s organization Fokupers for psychosocial counselling, coaching and organizational development. Since then she has been committed to the country and its people.