Timor-Leste's national flag is raised at the celebration (Photo: VNA)

Dili (VNA) – Tens of thousands of Timorese attended a grand ceremony in Ermera district on May 20 to mark the country’s 14th anniversary of the Restoration of Independence.

Timor-Leste’s independence was achieved on May 20, 2002 after the country split from Indonesia. Three quarters of the voters in the country chose independence in a referendum supervised by the United Nations.

President of Timor-Leste Taur Matan Ruak noted that the ceremony is an opportunity for Timorese citizens to look back at what they have experienced since independence was re-established and at their contributions to national construction.

The Government and People of Timor-Leste have worked to consolidate national territory and maintain peace as well as build a law-governed democratic country, the President noted, adding that Timor-Leste can be proud of what they have gained in the past 14 years.

Statistics from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) revealed that gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the country was 4.1 percent in 2015 and the figure is expected to stand at 4.5 percent in 2016. Most of the nation’s earnings come from oil and gas.

According to the President, the biggest challenge for the country is its reliance on vast offshore oil and gas fields. He said that Timor-Leste will continue to shift its oil-based economy to a more diversified and stable one, aiming to overcome poverty.

Together with fortifying the administrative system and shaking up the economy, the Government is also giving top priority to activities that will speed up integration to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he added.-VNA