Sommaire: 2 February 2011, Brussels - Speech by Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission, on Sudan at the European Parliament
We are witnessing a historic moment for Sudan and for the whole African continent. The people of Southern Sudan have waited a long time for the chance to exercise their right of self-determination. The timely, peaceful and credible conduct of the Referendum is a remarkable success and one of which everyone should be proud.
The preliminary results of the Referendum in the ten southern states were announced on 30 January and showed an overwhelming majority vote (99,5%) in favour of secession. We still await the final results which will be coming out in the next couple of weeks.
We congratulate the Southern Sudanese people for the determination, dignity and patience they showed in turning out to vote in such large numbers. We also commend the Southern parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for their leadership and the Sudanese Referendum Authorities for the remarkable job they did in organising the Referendum, despite the enormous challenges they faced.
The success of the Referendum is above all a Sudanese achievement. But it is also thanks to the support it received from the African Union and the AU High Level Implementation Panel led by President Mbeki, who helped the parties to move forward and to the sustained diplomatic attention it received from the international community, including the UN, the US and the EU.
Sudan has been high on our political agenda in Brussels during the past few months. We discussed Sudan in the Foreign Affairs Council both in November and, in December. We agreed again conclusions on Sudan in this week's Foreign Affairs Council and the EU will continue to monitor the situation there closely.
I would also like to thank Véronique de Keyser, the Chief Election Observer for the South Sudan Referendum and her team in the EU observation mission, for the important role they played in helping to create confidence in the referendum process among the people of Sudan. The deployment of a large and experienced EU observation mission was an important and tangible European contribution. The EU has also provided technical expertise and financial support to the Sudanese Referendum authorities.
Pending the announcement of the final results, I should like to reiterate that the EU will respect the outcome of the Referendum as an expression of the wishes of the people of Southern Sudan. We are encouraged by President Bashir's remarks in Juba on 4 January, reaffirmed at the Mini-Summit on Sudan in Addis Ababa on 31 January, that the Government of Sudan will accept the results of the Referendum, will be the first to recognise the new state and will extend full cooperation to the new state. We urge all stakeholders to continue to exercise restraint and to ensure that calm prevails and that the safety and security of all peoples in Sudan are protected.
While the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan was a huge success, we cannot afford to be complacent. Huge challenges lie ahead.
The Referendum on Abyei which was supposed to have been held at the same time as the Southern Sudan Referendum, has still not taken place. We are concerned about the violence that took place in Abyei on the eve of the Referendum. We urge the parties to prevent any further violence and to find a substantive solution to lay the foundation for long-term co-existence between local communities on the ground.
There are other outstanding issues related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement still to be resolved, including North-South border demarcation and the holding of Popular Consultations in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. We hope the parties will now refocus their energies on resolving these issues and key post-referendum arrangements, including citizenship, security arrangements, the sharing of oil revenues and other economic issues. We are encouraged that both parties have agreed on a number of principles, particularly to work for two viable states, with soft borders, and to build constructive, good neighbourly relations. But there is still a lot of work to be done on specific issues. On all these we will continue to support President Mbeki's mediation efforts.
We also face important humanitarian challenges. Every day some 2.000 people are returning to South Sudan from the North, who need help to reintegrate into their local communities.
I remain deeply concerned about increased violence in Darfur, leading to tens of thousands of newly displaced people and the severe impact this is having on humanitarian operations. Three European citizens are still being held hostage.
We also continue to have concerns about the detention of human rights defenders, journalists, opposition politicians and peaceful student protestors. One of the basic principles of the CPA was the establishment of democratic governance, based on respect for diversity and basic freedoms. We want to see respect for fundamental freedoms and genuinely inclusive democratic governance in both North and South.
Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
Looking to the future, I can assure you that Sudan will remain high on my agenda.
The EU will continue to engage with both Khartoum and Juba. We are ready to step up our engagement with the Government in Khartoum and are prepared to strengthen our dialogue on issues of common interest. Recognising the political and economic challenges ahead, the EU remains committed to providing assistance to the people in the North, particularly in war-affected areas such as the East, the Transitional Areas and Darfur. Southern Sudan will not be stable if Northern Sudan is not stable and vice versa. EU Foreign Ministers have said that they are ready to look closely at EU support for an international debt relief effort for Sudan, consistent with political progress.
In Southern Sudan, the EU has a significant contribution to make to stabilisation, development and institutional capacity-building. The EU is already providing support for basic services and agricultural development. This is in addition to the significant bilateral programmes of Member States. We are currently reviewing our longer-term strategy for development cooperation with Southern Sudan.
We recognise that Darfur deserves the same high level attention that has recently been focused on CPA implementation. We appeal to all parties to cease hostilities and conclude a ceasefire agreement, leading to a comprehensive and just political settlement. We will step up our efforts to encourage all parties to engage seriously in the Doha peace process and hope to see a positive outcome as soon as possible.
Finally a word on justice. Lasting peace in Darfur cannot be achieved without justice and reconciliation, as underlined by AU High Level Panel on Darfur. There has to be an end to impunity. The Council has repeatedly recalled the obligation of the Government of Sudan to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court pursuant to UNSC Resolution 1593.
Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
I believe that the EU has an important role to play in supporting a peaceful, stable and democratic future for the Sudanese people, whether in one country or two. We owe it to the Sudanese people in both North and South to stand by them and offer support and encouragement at this critical time.