Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-02-02-Speech-3-196-000"

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"Madam President, I will read the statement and then, I am delighted to say, my colleague Michel Barnier will continue the debate and close it for reasons that I think the honourable Members have understood. While the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan was a major 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 at the violence that occurred in Abyei on the eve of the referendum and 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 matters as well as key post-referendum issues including citizenship, security arrangements, 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 relations. However, there is still a lot of work to be done and we will continue to support President Mbeki’s mediation efforts. We also face an important humanitarian challenge. Every day some 2 000 people return to South Sudan from the North and they need help to reintegrate into their local communities. I remain deeply concerned about increased violence in Darfur, leading to the recent displacement of tens of thousands of 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 protesters. One of the basic principles of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was the establishment of democratic governance based on respect for diversity and freedoms, and we want to see respect for fundamental freedoms and genuinely inclusive democratic governance in both North and South. Looking to the future, I assure you this will remain high on our agenda. We will continue to engage with both Khartoum and Juba. We are ready to step up our engagement with Khartoum and prepared to strengthen our dialogue. We remain committed to providing assistance to the people in the North, particularly in war-affected areas such as the east, the Transitional Area and Darfur. Southern Sudan will not be stable if Northern Sudan is not stable, and vice versa. EU Foreign Ministers have said they are ready to look closely at EU support for international debt relief for Sudan, consistent with political progress. In Southern Sudan, the EU has a significant contribution to make to stabilisation, development and institutional capacity-building. We are already providing support for basic services and agricultural development – in addition to the significant bilateral programmes of Member States – and we are looking at our longer-term strategy for development cooperation with Southern Sudan. But we also recognise that Darfur deserves the same high-level attention that has recently been focused on implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. So we appeal to all parties to cease hostilities, conclude a ceasefire agreement and move towards a comprehensive and just political settlement, and we will step up our efforts to encourage all parties to engage seriously in the Doha peace process. Finally, a word on justice: lasting peace in Darfur cannot be achieved without justice and reconciliation. There has to be an end to impunity. The Council has repeatedly drawn attention to the obligation of the Government of Sudan to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court. We are witnessing what is a historic moment for Sudan and actually for the whole of Africa. 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 has been a remarkable success and one of which everyone should be proud. I believe 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 them support and encouragement at this critical time. The preliminary results of the referendum in the 10 southern states were announced on 30 January and showed an overwhelming majority (99.5%) in favour of secession. We still await the final results, which will be 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. This referendum’s success is, above all, a Sudanese achievement but it also reflects the support of the African Union and the AU High-Level Implementation Panel led by President Mbeki, who helped the parties to move forward, as well as the sustained diplomatic attention it received from the international community, including the UN, the US and, of course, the European Union. Sudan has been high on our political agenda in Brussels during the past months. We discussed it in the Foreign Affairs Council both in November and in December. We agreed again on conclusions in the Foreign Affairs Council this week and we will continue to monitor the situation. More than anything, however, I want 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 this process among the people of Sudan. The deployment of a large and experienced observation mission was an important and tangible European contribution, and I thank you most sincerely because I know you personally played such a significant role and it has been well recognised. We also provided technical expertise and financial support to the Sudanese referendum authorities. As we wait for the announcement of the final results, I want 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 al-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 it. 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."@en1

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