When the people of Timor-Leste woke up this morning, their young nation had opened a new chapter in its history. Today is the first day since 1999 that there is no UN Security Council-mandated mission on the ground.
From the passage of UNSC Resolution 384 on December 22, 1975 to 1999, Timor-Leste remained on the Council's agenda as unfinished post-colonial business. In 1999, the Security Council supported the UN-administered popular consultation in which Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence instead of continued incorporation in Indonesia; it then sadly directed the dispatch of peacekeepers as a result of post-referendum violence. A series of peacekeeping and special political missions ensued. In 2011, the final peacekeeping mission -- the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) -- and the government established a joint transition plan to ensure an orderly transition to post-peacekeeping. The final Security Council Resolution on Timor-Leste, number 2037 of February 23, 2012, set December 31, 2012 as the end of UNMIT's mandate.
2012 was a banner year for Timor-Leste. The year marked the tenth anniversary of the restoration of independence, free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections, the peaceful transfers of office, and the departure of the peacekeepers. Congratulations to the people and government of Timor-Leste on these momentous achievements.
Our partnership with Timor-Leste is permanent, and our relationship will continue to be strong in this new environment. It is based on shared values of democracy, freedom, and human rights. The United States remains steadfast in its support of Timor-Leste's efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, consolidate its peace and security gains, and increase the economic well-being of its people.