Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-02-02-Speech-3-222-000"

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"− Mr President, Baroness Ashton asked me to listen to each of you, and I have listened attentively. I would like to thank you for your understanding, as Baroness Ashton had to leave the Chamber for urgent reasons after she had explained her position, as High Representative, on the extremely sensitive issue of Sudan. Mr President, I would like to say a final word on a subject that several of you have raised, that is to say, debt. I would remind you of the Council’s latest conclusions, which were very clear: the European Union will support debt relief for this country by taking account, as other partners do, of the progress we are expecting, and which we want to accompany and encourage politically and economically in order to ensure the stability of the country. These are the answers I wanted to give on behalf of Baroness Ashton. In this huge region of Africa, it is clear to see, and, ladies and gentlemen, all your speeches have shown, that what happens in a country may affect all the other countries in terms of development, peace and stability. It must be remembered that there are nine countries bordering on Sudan. That is why what has happened with the referendum is so important. Mrs De Keyser, whose role as Chief Election Observer I would like to acknowledge, recalled, as did Baroness Ashton, the success of this referendum – an exemplary process and a transition that has to be peaceful. Since she has done so herself, I, too, would like to thank the Members of the European Parliament and others for the good cooperation demonstrated by this process between the European institutions and, in particular, the European Parliament. Ladies and gentlemen, several of you have spoken of Darfur. For my part, I have not forgotten the time when, in 2004, at the height of the crisis, I, as the then French Minister for Foreign Affairs, went to Al-Fashir in deepest Darfur, and what I heard and saw there. That is why I am happy that I have been given this opportunity to comment on this situation on behalf of Baroness Ashton. We are paying a great deal of attention to it and we are, of course, following the developments with great concern for what is happening today, while naturally deploring the many violations of human rights and the kidnapping of United Nations personnel. That is why we expect all parties to embark on this peace process. Naturally, we must support this peace process. This is the objective of our political action, of everything that is being done to create stability and, even more specifically, of our humanitarian aid, of course. Mr President, I wish to point out that, since 2003, the European Union has contributed EUR 776 million to humanitarian cooperation with Sudan, in particular to Darfur, which badly needs it, and to Southern Sudan. I would also like to point out or confirm that the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) will remain proactive, and I wish to thank all the personnel who have worked alongside ECHO with regard to the reintegration of people returning to Southern Sudan from the North in cooperation with the United Nations. As regards cooperation with Southern Sudan, the European Union will provide more assistance in this extremely specific area in order to promote a rural development and agricultural production capability, which these people so desperately need, so that they are not forever reliant on imports, which are becoming more expensive due to price volatility. Those who know me know my unwavering commitment to this, today as Commissioner and previously in other capacities. The Commission spoke about this issue at length in its communication this morning. Therefore, in the vital areas of rural development, agricultural development, basic services, education and health, the Commission will continue to increase its assistance. We are currently planning to create special funds of some EUR 150 million for the most vulnerable population groups in Sudan and, naturally, Southern Sudan. That is what I wanted to say. Very briefly, I would just like to make three further comments. On the issue of citizenship, which has been raised by several Members of Parliament, I would like to say that we fully support the work carried out by the Panel led by President Mbeki, which is facilitating negotiations concerning future citizenship and other issues linked to this serious problem of citizenship. Concerning the international tribunal, the European Union will continue to support the International Criminal Court without any reservations. Time and again, we have called on all the authorities, in particular those of Sudan, to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court."@en1

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