18 November 2011
Timor-Leste's Parliament is currently debating the country's State Budget for 2012. During the debate on 17 November, MP Aniceto Guterres, leader of the opposition Fretilin party, proposed to add $1.5 million to the $1.76 billion budget as a contribution to UNESCO. Guterres explained that the agency is facing a financial crisis because the U.S. cancelled their support because the agency accepted Palestine.
During the debate on the amendment, some MPs expressed concerns about the political implications of repudiating U.S. policy. They emphasized that this support should be seen as a gesture of solidarity, and should not drag Timor-Leste into the political conflict facing the agency. Proponents clarified that the proposal is intended to give financial support to UNESCO, because UNESCO and other UN agencies supported TL's struggle for independence. Timor-Leste's Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres (former Timor-Leste Ambassador to the U.S. and U.N.) and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomed and appreciated the proposal as gesture of solidarity, and the amendment was approved with 34 votes in favor, five opposed and 15 abstentions.
Debate on the budget will continue for another week, and more information is on La'o Hamutuk's website. Timor-Leste's Constitution states that the nation "shall extend its solidarity to the struggle of the peoples for national liberation."