Only Filipinos can solve Mindanao peace problem, says Ramos-Horta, 15 January 2009

DAVAO CITY, Philippines --Timor-Leste President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta said only Filipinos and not foreign intervention can solve the conflict in Mindanao.

Ramos-Horta said Filipinos should not pin their hopes on mediators of the peace process.

"No one can find peace for Filipinos but Filipinos themselves. No one else can help you but you Filipinos, yourselves. Long-lasting peace in this region of the Philippines if you help yourself," Ramos-Horta said.

Ramos-Horta arrived here Tuesday afternoon to kick-off the 2009 ASEAN Bridges series on Dialogue: Toward a Culture of Peace  at the Ateneo de Davao University.

The Timor-Leste President explained that not even the intervention of Malaysia, Indonesia or the United Nations in the peace process would help unless those  involved are as committed to finding a just and lasting resolution to  the existing conflict.

"Long-lasting peace would then remain in our dreams, in our speeches if that only those who are principally involved in a conflict are not sincerely committed to peace. It would help if the main actors would take a step backward and try to think and analyze and understand how the conflict began," Ramos-Horta further said.

Foreign mediators in a peace negotiation, he stressed,  only help in filing reports and recording developments in a peace process but they are not the only solution to the problem.

Ramos-Horta likewise said that only with the complete destruction of nuclear weapons would long-lasting peace become an attainable dream.

"Heal our planet. Help each other and destroy all nuclear weapons. Only then would long-lasting peace be an attainable dream," Ramos-Horta said.

Ramos-Horta said nuclear war would not solve any problem nor could peace be attained in such an environment filled with nuclear weapons and Asia is among the most dangerous places in the world with the continued development of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, China, Russia, India and North Korea.

"We would then wait for the time when there would only be a few who would survive the nuclear war and only then would we learn our lesson about nuclear weapons," Ramos-Horta quipped.