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José Ramos-Horta on the Complexities of Nation-Building in East Timor

Jose Ramos Horta (

Jose Ramos Horta ("Migufu"/Flickr)

How much economic aid does East Timor now receive, and who are its principal donors?

Our number one development partner remains Japan, followed by Portugal, Australia, the European Commission, the United States, the Nordic countries, the UK, Germany and New Zealand. Ireland is an important donor.

What about the World Bank and the IMF?

We do have some assistance from the World Bank but not from the IMF. We are not borrowing yet, but we are considering, in the future, borrowing from the Kuwait Fund to support our infrastructure development.

What kind of fund is that?

There is a body called the Kuwait Development Fund that provides loans to developing countries. The Fund is very generous, and we have a very good rapport with Kuwait, and the Kuwaitis are waiting for East Timor to apply for loans from them, and we will do so in another year or two.

And the terms of the loans are…?

Better than the World Bank, the IMF, or the ADB.

So what percentage of the budget is aid?

We do not have a budget support. We are now fully independent in terms of requirements, but we still have a need for development assistance separate from the budget. So all the economic aid we receive is for development assistance.

Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, you argued in an editorial in the New York Times that, "The use of force is often the necessary price of liberation."

Sometimes, yes.