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Speech by Jean-Louis Schiltz at the Sudan Donors’ Conference in Oslo

Date of Speech : 11-04-2005

Place : Oslo, Norway

Speaker : Jean-Louis Schiltz

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to take the floor today on behalf of the European Union.

May I first of all congratulate the Norwegian Government for organizing and hosting this important conference.

The international community has devoted tremendous efforts over the last months to cope with the tsunami disaster which has triggered an exceptional international solidarity movement.

This Conference is quite rightly focusing our attention on another continent, on another country, where people are suffering, where other human tragedies are occurring daily and on a large scale. Sudan is, however, not the only for too long forgotten crisis and we should also be sensitive to the huge needs elsewhere in the world, from the DRC to Haiti, from Chechnya to Colombia.

After 21 years of what has been, so far, one of the longest and the most murderous conflicts on the African continent, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in Nairobi, between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, on 9th January this year is, as we all hope, the beginning of a new era in Sudan. I would like to pay special tribute to the engagement of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and its Chief negotiator General Lazarus Sumbeiywo who contributed greatly to the achievement of the peace agreement. The momentum of this historic event must not be lost. It is a unique chance to take decisive steps towards the restoration of peace and stability in the whole of Sudan. We cannot miss this opportunity. We have to seize it without any further delay.

Creating a lasting peace throughout the country is a precondition for the stability that is needed as a solid ground for development and progress in Sudan. But this peace will not only benefit Sudan. It will have an important impact on the neighbouring countries, from the Horn of Africa to Chad and down to the Great Lakes Region. The International Community must provide its undisputed support to the ongoing implementation of the Agreement.

The EU is determined to assist Sudan in achieving the swift and full implementation of the Peace Agreement. The EU does so by providing political support as well as humanitarian assistance, both on a bilateral basis and in a joint effort through the United Nations. The establishment of UNMIS (United Nations Mission in Sudan), as agreed in Security Council Resolution 1590, is a welcome step towards further stability and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan. The EU stands ready to support and assist the United Nations in speedy deployment of UNMIS.

In this context, we encourage the efforts by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) on the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

I am most certain that all the parties implicated are fully aware of the fact that the whole of the international community is standing by to keep a very close eye on this issue. All parties are aware of what they have to do and I would like to stress that the responsibility for the success of these efforts solely lies with those who have their seat around that table. All the same, however, I would like to use the same clarity in language to emphasize the fact that, as in the past, the EU stands ready to carry its fair share of the burden and to assist the authorities and the people of Sudan if and when needed.

The EU is deeply concerned about the situation in Darfur, and has therefore contributed, from the outset of the crisis, to alleviate the suffering of the people in the region and to assist in solving the conflict through an effective cease-fire and political negotiations. The massive and blatant human rights violations must come to an end.

The EU wishes to take this opportunity to express its sincere appreciation for the role played by the African Union. Strengthening and fully deploying the AU mission is a priority. The EU reiterates its political and financial support to the African Union in its efforts to stabilise the situation in Darfur and to promote a negotiated solution.

Presently, the EU is highly concerned by the ongoing attacks against civilians in Darfur, and I strongly appeal, on behalf of the European Union, to all parties in the conflict to stop the violations of the N’djamena cease-fire, especially the attacks and abuses aimed against civilians and to engage constructively in the Abuja negotiations, which are the only way that leads towards a political solution for the region.

In Darfour as well, the Government of Sudan must ensure the full respect of human rights. No village should be pillaged and burned. No man should be shot when he leaves his house or, more probably, his shelter. No woman should be raped when she leaves the safety of her home to pick up firewood.

Along these same lines, I call on all Sudanese parties to take all necessary action to prevent further violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and to facilitate humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian Aid workers must not be taken as targets. They must have access and they must not be kept in any way from delivering the assistance the International Community is providing.

Furthermore, the Government of Sudan must put into place the necessary preconditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and IDPs. As a result of the conflicts in the south of Sudan and, more recently, in Darfour, there are a few hundred thousand refugees and around two million IDPs. The EU recognizes the contribution made by neighbouring States where those persons have fled, and calls upon the Government of Sudan to take all required measures for a safe return of all these persons.

Above all, it must be clear that the progress achieved in implementing the Peace Agreement and the efforts made by the Sudanese Government and all the other parties to resolve the conflict in Darfur will undoubtedly influence the release of funds by the EU. In this context it must be clear that full normalization of relations between the EU and Sudanese Government would be premature a long as violence in Darfur continues under responsibility of the Government of Sudan and reluctance prevails to comply with the demands set out by the Security Council of the United Nations in various resolutions.

Since the early ‘90s, the EU has provided support to the Sudanese people, through humanitarian and relief assistance to alleviate their suffering. The EU, through its Member States and the Commission, has been among the most important donors for the Sudan. The EU humanitarian and relief aid foreseen in 2005 is in excess of €370M. Additionally over €60M in support to the AU mission in Darfur has been made available by the EC. The crisis in Darfur has been a major concern to the international community, and in 2004 the EU channeled to this region alone, €326M, including €285M of humanitarian assistance and support to the AU mission of €41M.

I would also like to stress the fact that, when we consider funding for Sudan, we should not forget the refugee camps in the neighbouring countries nor should we forget the countries hosting these camps.

Finally, I would point out the fact that the EU has played collectively an active role in ensuring that the situation in Sudan is referred to the ICC and warmly welcomes the referral of the situation in Darfour to the International Criminal Court. There is no lasting peace without justice. This referral, together with the other terms of the UN resolution 1593, represents a major step forward in the fight against impunity, the protection of human rights, respect for international law, and in the global reconciliation process in Sudan. The EU strongly encourages the authorities of Sudan and all States and parties concerned to cooperate with the ICC.

In conclusion, on behalf of the EU, I wish to reiterate once more my most pressing appeal to all parties to seize this historic opportunity to act towards a restoration of peace in Sudan for the benefit of all the people of Sudan and in the region.

This page was last modified on : 13-04-2005

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