According to a report in the Brisbane Times, East Timor’s former prime minister and Nobel laureate Dr Jose Ramos-Horta has appealed to Australia’s sense of a “fair go”, asking for a sea boundary to be moved to enable more equal sharing of the estimated $40 billion in oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.
“Show your greatness, your traditional fairness and agree to the equidistance,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.
Australia, East Timor and Indonesia have for over 10 years disputed the maritime boundary in the Timor Sea over gas and oil reserves in the Greater Sunrise gas field that lies between the two countries.
While East Timor received independence in 2002 and a Timor Sea Treaty was signed, there is still no permanent sea border between Australia and East Timor noted the Brisbane Times report.
Australia agreed to a UN compulsory conciliation last April, a process which has a 12-month time frame for a recommendation to be made by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
“They have accepted this UN mechanism which they would hope will be in their favour,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.
“…having accepted the mechanism, I know they are prepared to accept the final outcome of the reconciliation.”
East Timor is arguing for a boundary “equidistant between the two countries”.
“We hope that with wisdom and with patience, Australia will again show its solidarity to Timor-Leste, as it did in 1999.”
“And we can have a better arrangement to the Timor Sea.”