The former president of the Timorese Republic challenged the House of Portugal in Timor-Leste, officially presented to the public today, to join the efforts of the Timorese Government and the support of the Portuguese Government for the strengthening of the Portuguese language in the country.
"Casa de Portugal will support the efforts of the Timorese Government and the Portuguese Government to expand Portuguese. Portuguese is not disappearing in Timor. It's showing up. In 1975 there was practically no Portuguese and today the official statistics speak of 23% to speak Portuguese ", stressed.
José Ramos-Horta spoke at a public presentation of the Timor-Leste House of Portugal, which took place today at the Cultural Center of the Portuguese Embassy in Díli, which temporarily hosts what is the first Portuguese association of Timor-Leste.
The ceremony was marked by the formal signing of the association of its 25 founders, among them José Ramos-Horta himself.
For the Nobel Peace Prize, the new association can help the effort, which must be "set" in the face of the "avalanche" of Indonesia, a neighboring country with more than 100 television stations, thousands of radio stations and a lot of written press with many to Timor-Leste.
"Imagine the avalanche of everything from Indonesia here. We are in a more precarious and vulnerable situation than Guinea Bissau where we are talking about the influence of the French, "said the former head of state and current minister of state.
"In Timor-Leste we have this vulnerability. People do not learn a language by nostalgia or romanticism, they learn by necessity and the internal need for communication, "he said.
Ramos-Horta argued that the East Timorese Government must make more efforts in this matter by imposing, for example, on embassies, which only send messages to the Portuguese or Tetum executive, the two official languages.
Fernando Figueiredo, president of Casa de Portugal's management, gave an account of the association's objectives and statutes.
According to its statutes, the new association was created by an initial group of 25 people to ensure "the preservation of the identity of the community and its cultural heritage, in particular the Portuguese language and culture" and to contribute to the of Timor-Leste are among the objectives of Casa de Portugal.
Another goal is for the association to become "a privileged interlocutor in the search for solutions to specific problems that affect the Portuguese community in Timor-Leste".
Promoting solidarity in the Portuguese community and fostering relations with other communities are other objectives of the association that also wants to create centers of cultural action and training.
One of the first goals of the association is to find a headquarters to develop its activities, with Ramos-Horta suggesting the use of the former Sporting Clube de Timor building that has been practically abandoned for decades, located next to the Portuguese Embassy in Díli.
"There were some East Timorese enthusiasts who complained about Sporting's existence. But it does not exist. These my countrymen do not even have sneakers, "said Ramos-Horta.
"We can chat with them and see how it can become the House of Portugal. Let's make this and then find people with money here in Timor-Leste who can help in the works to make Casa de Portugal, "said Ramos-Horta.
Speaking at the ceremony, José Pedro Machado Vieira, Portuguese ambassador to Díli and who today became the first honorary member of Casa de Portugal - read an excerpt from a letter sent by the Secretary of State for Communities, José Luís Carneiro.
The letter welcomes the initiative that considers "one more expression of the vitality, dynamism and mobilization capacity" of the Portuguese diaspora.
The diploma advocated an effort to involve young people in the association that should seek "complementarities" and adapt to the reality of the Portuguese community in Dili - about one thousand people, according to consular records.
A community that is "permanently renewed" with many staying only for shorter periods.