Australia played a key role in East Timor's move to independence
With a large Australian contingent deploying in East Timor, newspapers say the situation in the troubled island state poses a long-term diplomatic challenge for Canberra.
They applaud the government's decision to send Australian soldiers to help quell the violence and restore order.
EDITORIAL IN THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
Without in any sense 'taking sides' in what is an internal dispute within the ranks of the East Timorese military, Australia has a continuing responsibility - having acted as 'midwife' when East Timor was issued into independence - to supervise her transition from wobbly infancy to a situation of greater stability... While it remains divided, there can be no confident hope for the country's security - and that means a continuing role for our troops.
EDITORIAL IN THE AUSTRALIAN
The immediate challenge for Australia is to restore order in East Timor. But it is essential the Australian Defence Force is seen as the ally of all East Timorese, rather than the protector of politicians. In the longer term, we must offer, firmly, to do everything we can to help the East Timorese develop their own accountable institutions.
PATRICK WALTERS IN THE AUSTRALIAN
Australian troops will be welcomed in Dili but the long-term task of reconciling the country's deeply divided polity will need to go far beyond this latest military development. The country's army and police will have to be rebuilt. Reviving East Timor's fledgling governing institutions promises to be a decade-long diplomatic challenge for Australia.
DAMIEN KINGSBURY IN THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
As a good international citizen and regional power Australia has a moral obligation to support East Timor. It also has a debt to pay for ignoring the plight of East Timor, and the deaths of some 180,000 people, until 1999. Australia is right to send soldiers following an official request, to help stabilize the situation in East Timor. It should not be pressured into again taking them out too soon.
EDITORIAL IN THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
What East Timor clearly needs as much as extra security forces is tough political advice for its leaders... Mr [Prime Minister] Alkatiri and some of his veteran Fretilin ministers may be part of the problem, not those able to bring a solution. Having done much good work in East Timor's first four years of independence, Mr Alkatiri should consider stepping aside...
But Australia and other military aid givers, such as Portugal, should get together with East Timor's leaders and take a hard look at the shape and role of the Timorese armed forces.
EDITORIAL IN THE AGE
Yesterday, 150 troops arrived in East Timor, with more than 1,000 more ready to go. The troops are charged with re-establishing law and order. It is the largest Australian deployment of peacekeepers to the region since 1999... This dousing of spot fires around the region shows the fragility of the flower of democracy in poor, struggling countries.
It draws into focus the debate on how to best help Australia's neighbours, beyond maintaining law and order on the streets... While the Federal Government's quick response to the crisis is to be applauded, there are broader issues at stake. Democracy does not bloom overnight and it does not bequeath immediate benefits. It takes time.
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