By Tarjei Leer-Salvesen
At a meeting with six bureaucrats from the Department of Foreign Affairs, representatives of NorWatch and the Working group on internationalization of Norwegian industry (AGINN) confronted them with a chart published by Blom as a project description of their Indonesian activity. The map, which shows East Timor as an integrated part of Indonesia, was brushed aside as unimportant. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was preoccupied with emphasizing that Blom's activities do not influence Norwegian foreign policy in relation to East Timor, and their opinion was that there were no indications that Blom had gathered data in the waters of East Timor.
If the disputed map was valid, it would be a different matter, it was said at the meeting. However, we did not receive an answer as to what would make the Dept. of Foreign Affairs take a stand in this intricat mapping case.
In a telephone conversation with NorWatch shortly after the meeting with the Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Øyvind Stene, who is managing director in Blom ASA, confirms that there is no boundary line between East and West Timor on Blom Dantarsa's map.
- If we had drawn a border against East Timor on the map, it would be a political judgement which we were not willing to make, Øyvind Stene says.
When asked whether it is also a political judgement not to draw the border between East Timor and Indonesia on a map, Stene answers that he understands this point of view.
Stene denied that Blom collected data for the maps in areas belonging to East Timor. However, he hesitates with regard to the continental shelf:
- We will decide the continental shelf border of Indonesia where it stretches outside the 200 miles zone. I do not know if this is the case in the Timor Gap.
For a long time, it has been difficult to get a proper answer as to why the "baseline" on the company's maps also stretches around East Timor. The baseline is a line drawn on sea maps to determine what is the outer limits of a country in the sea, and it is decisive in territorial disputes. How can the baseline be drawn outside East Timor's coastline without gathering data in the area, and thereby violating the terms given by NORAD when granting support to the project?
The answer came from Øyvind Stene in a telephone conversation on Friday 19 September. Blom will reprint their chart and the project description of Blom Dantarsa. The baseline outside East Timor will be removed, and it is made clear that East Timor has a special status, and that Blom will not enter these areas.
Blom in Indonesia
Blom Dantarsa is a joint venture between Blom ASA and the Indonesian company Dantarsa. In 1995, the company made a contract worth NOK 816 million to carry out phase I of a total of three phases of Indonesia's sea charting programme. The controversial issue was which territories belong to a map of Indonesia. In 1997, Blom Dantarsa also made the agreement of intention to be in charge of carrying out phase II, worth an additional NOK 1.6 billion kroner. The contract will be signed when a financing package is in place.
In addition to sea charting, Blom is involved in surveying of land in Indonesia, through the company Blom Narcon.
- This is a victory to us, says Kim Lorås in AGINN. AGINN is a meeting place for Norwegian NGOs working critically with multinational corporations, in which the Future in Our Hands is also a participant.
- Our main focus has been the political signals towards East Timor with respect to such a chart. And now we have had a break-through. I have one map of the Blom Dantarsa project which was valid on 19 September. Now I have a different one which was made valid on Monday 22 September. Blom have removed the"baseline" from East Timor, they point out that they will not collect data in this area, and that East Timor has a special status, Lorås continues.
However, he emphasizes some remaining problems:
- I still have doubts about this project, especially since there are still uncertainties about the baseline. Blom has erased it on the southern end of East Timor, but they have not re-drawn it on the northern end. If Indonesia is to have an unbroken sea border, Blom must draw baseline between the Southern Moluccas and the northern coast of East Timor. Moreover, it is strange aid policy to spend vast sums of money on a chart of Indonesia. The main focus here is export of Norwegian technology, and it is a project which is not oriented towards poverty relief or towards strengthening the rights of minorities.
Apparently, the condition that Blom must stay away from the waters of East Timor will be fulfilled. In the meantime, there have been many versions of what has been going on, and maps with very different political meanings have been presented by the company. In this context, it is peculiar that the UD persistently insists that everything has been carried out according to the rules.
Public support to Blom's activities in Indonesia
The survey below gives an impression of the size of the involvement of the Norwegian government in supporting Blom's Indonesia contract (including support to subcontractors):
|1986-95||NTNF/NFR||Systems developed by Sysdeco, SysScan, the Norwegian Mapping Authority, and Dikas||22 mill|
|1986-95||NTNF/NFR||Integrated bridge systems (Norcontrol, Kværner, and the Norwegian Mapping Authority||12 mill.|
|1986-95||NTNF/NFR||Traffic and environmental surveillance (Oceanor and Seatex)||30 mill.|
|1989-91||SND||Seabed sonar (Simrad)||4 mill.|
|1989-92||SND||GPS signals (Seatex)||5 mill.|
|1989-95||SND||Digital data processing, seabed charting||3.8 mill.|
|1992-96||SND||Digital mapping technology developed by Sysdeco||40 mill.|
|1994-96||SND||The coast-map system developed by Simrad||3 mill.|
|1995||SND||General technology development, granted to Blom||30 mill.|
|1995||SND||GPS signals (Seatex)||4.8 mill.|
|1995||NORAD||Interest subsidies in the main contract||87 mill.|
52% of the loan in the phase 1 financing package is covered by Norway. This equals 430 million kroner. The parties involved are Eksportfinans AS, Nordic Investment Bank, Nordic Development Fund, and NORAD (see table above). The loan is guaranteed 95% by GIEK and 5% by Landsbanken.
Source: Common paper from the Norwegian Oil and Energy Departement and the Ministry of Environment, 14.12.95.
Norwatch Newsletter 13/97