Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-02-02-Speech-3-198-000"

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"Madam President, following on from the discussions about Tunisia, Egypt and other countries that are currently calling for freedom, I would like to say that our observation mission to Southern Sudan for the referendum was a wonderful and exemplary experience. The referendum was exemplary because it was a success, notwithstanding all the doom-mongering. It was also a wonderful experience because it was apparent that the people of Southern Sudan were voting with tears in their eyes – after waiting for this moment for so long (more than 50 years in some cases), after having lived through civil war – and were embracing the peaceful transition with indescribable joy. It is true that the coming months will be difficult, but we do need to celebrate this turning point. I have to say that in the light of the European Union's instruments and how much I have criticised other election observation missions that did not enjoy a successful outcome, the mission that I took part in was a real blessing. Southern Sudan is set to become the fifty-fourth state in Africa on 9 July. It currently faces a number of challenges, as outlined by Baroness Ashton. Firstly there is the oil in the Abyei region, located on the border between North and South, but for which no clear boundaries have been defined and which did not have its own referendum. A solution needs to be found for Abyei, but at the moment the question is still pending. Violence occurred in the area during the referendum, as was also the case in the Unity State and South Kordofan. This region has the potential to destabilise the whole country. Then there is the issue flagged up by Mariya Nedelcheva – whom I would like to thank for her participation in the observation mission – and by Baroness Ashton: citizenship. The people of Southern Sudan who lived and worked in the North, sometimes even owning property, have fled to the South in tens, even hundreds, of thousands. They will probably now have to be reintegrated in the southern economy. They do not trust the North, they do not know whether they will be able to keep their jobs – almost certainly not if those posts are in the public sector – which is a serious problem. Lastly, there is the problem of the International Criminal Court. Salva Kiir, the president of Southern Sudan, wants to seek cooperation with the North, provided that it recognises the result of the referendum. He has already succeeded in persuading President al-Bashir to visit the South, where he was formally received in Juba. This was astounding, representing reconciliation and a new era. Salva Kiir tells us that if he were to sign the Rome Statute today, he would be required to arrest President al-Bashir the next time he comes to visit. He questions how they could cooperate under those terms, how they could achieve the much-vaunted North-South reconciliation. ʻDo not ask us to do that,’ he argues. Obviously, we are committed to the International Criminal Court, but at the same time we realise that North-South cooperation is the key to peace. So I fear that there are lots of problems to be resolved. As I said, the mission was a wonderful experience, but Sudan remains one country until 9 July."@en1

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