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Friday, 08 July 2011

EU stands shoulder-to-shoulder with South Sudan

As South Sudan prepares to announce its independence on 9 July, the EU has extended a welcoming hand, reiterating its intention to continue support and develop a regular dialogue. Over 98% of voters from South Sudan voted in favour of separation from North Sudan in a January referendum. EU observers found the election to be peaceful and credible, and the turnout overwhelming at 97.5%. Voters’ wishes will become reality on 9 July, when independence is announced. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton will travel to the capital, Juba, to participate in the celebrations for Independence Day. Secession will also mark the end of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), agreed in 2005 and ending 21 years of civil war between North and South Sudan. The EU has been a staunch supporter of the CPA, and will now pursue a ‘comprehensive approach’ to relations with both North and South Sudan. The approach – agreed by EU Member States in June – covers all aspects of EU policy towards an independent South Sudan: political and diplomatic relations, security and the rule of law, development, trade, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs recently visited South Sudan with the comprehensive approach in mind. ‘Let us rejoice, but let us also remind each other that with independence comes enormous responsibility,’ he said. The Commissioner urged the state to give itself a good springboard from which to fight corruption, build up governance and state structures and generate income for itself and its people. ‘The EU can engage with South Sudan in a broad and honest dialogue on these issues. As partners, we should be brave enough to tell each other the truth – even if the truth can sometimes be difficult to hear. In any event, the people of South Sudan can count on the EU to be a reliable partner,’ he said. Dialogue will be further strengthened when the EU establishes a full Delegation in the South Sudan capital, Juba. The current office in Juba, open since 2009, will be upgraded as soon as possible following independence. Decades of civil war have left South Sudan extremely poor. It has the highest infant-mortality rates and lowest education indicators in the world. One child in 10 dies before its first birthday, and less than 1% of girls complete primary education. Since 2005, the EU has committed development assistance of over €650 million. Humanitarian aid since 2003 meanwhile amounts to €776 million. In May, EU foreign affairs ministers agreed to allocate an additional €200 million to South Sudan to support a development plan for 2011-2013, and to fund projects in the areas of education, health, agriculture, food security and democratic governance.

Source: EEAS