Indonesian state oil company Pertamina signed an agreement in June with Timor Gas E Petroleo, the national oil company of Timor-Leste, to develop Timorese oil and gas. In an email interview, Cillian Nolan, a Southeast Asia analyst at the Jakarta office of the International Crisis Group, discussed relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
WPR: How have relations between Indonesia and Timor-Leste evolved since Timor-Leste's independence?
Cillian Nolan: Good relations with Indonesia were a priority from the beginning for Timor-Leste’s current leaders, but the relationship really began to grow following the establishment of the Commission on Truth and Friendship (CTF) in 2005. The first-ever bilateral truth commission, the CTF was criticized at the time as a ploy to head off pressure for an international tribunal on serious crimes committed in 1999, but it also gave the capitals an opportunity to find a shared footing for relations. A comprehensive report published in 2008 stopped short of recommending amnesty, but it emphasized institutional, rather than individual, responsibility and was seen by many as a tacit agreement between the two countries to avoid prosecutions.