(EU Ambassador: Europeans look back with pride and look forward with hope) - Your Excellency: Minister of International Cooperation and Guest of Honor for Europe Day
Ministers, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you to the EU Delegation for this reception to celebrate Europe Day 2017. This is my first celebration in Sudan, and I am very happy to see that the European Union has so many friends and partners.
In 2017, we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Treaties of Rome which laid the foundations for the Europe that we know today, and the longest period of peace and progress in Europe. Tonight we celebrate together with our member states ambassadors in the Sudan.
Sixty years ago, inspired by that dream of a peaceful, shared future, the EU’s founding members embarked on a unique and ambitious journey of European integration. They agreed to settle their conflicts around a table rather than in battlefields. They replaced the use of armed forces by the force of law. They opened up the path for other countries to join, reuniting Europe and making us stronger.
As a result, our troubled past has given way to a peace spanning seven decades and to an enlarged Union of 500 million citizens living in freedom in one of the world’s most prosperous economies. The images of battles in trenches in Verdun, or of a continent separated by the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall, have been replaced by a Union standing out as a beacon of peace and stability.
On this anniversary, we as Europeans, look back with pride and look forward with hope. For 60 years, we have walked and worked together to build the European Union that promotes peaceful cooperation, respect of human rights, dignity, liberty, democracy, equality and solidarity among European nations and peoples. The Treaties of Rome led to a common market where people, goods, services and capital can move freely and created the conditions for prosperity and stability for European citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The journey of the European Union to 60 years of unity was not always smooth. There have been ups and downs. There were successes and setbacks. There was progress and there was protraction.
Most recently, in March 2017 the United Kingdom has triggered Article 50 which starts a complex and difficult process of leaving the EU. We have two years to negotiate. After more than forty years of being united, we owe it to each other to do everything we can to make this process as smooth as possible.
Brexit has made us, the community of 27 countries, more determined and more united than before. The European Commission has presented a White paper to encourage a debate across Europe's cities and regions, engaging with national Parliaments, local and regional authorities, and civil society about the options and scenarios for the future Europe. The outcome of these debates will be a new European Union that will make full use of its huge potential outside its borders, if it is to meet the expectations of its own citizens.
After 60 Years of the European Union, I would like to remind that collectively the European Union is the first economy in the world, its largest market, the biggest provider of foreign investment, the biggest humanitarian aid provider and the biggest development cooperation provider. We have with our network of global diplomatic presence – European Union offices plus all our embassies combined – the most connected diplomatic network in the world. With a strong and united European political will and self-confidence, we can share with the world the good energy, friendship, peace and understanding.
The European Union has given Sudan and its people its assurance that it will fully support every genuine initiative that will put Sudan on a path to peace, prosperity, and justice. The EU will support genuine efforts to rebuild confidence between Sudan and international partners. The EU and its member states are eager to create a peaceful environment in which tangible and sustained progress can be achieved in addressing Sudan's political and economic challenges could be achieved.
The EU therefore calls on the Government of Sudan, the opposition and the armed movements to rise to the opportunity and demonstrate the leadership necessary to put Sudan and the Sudanese people on the path of internal peace, reconciliation and democratic governance.
I stress that Sudan is important to the security of Europe. Its geostrategic location in the Horn of Africa makes it close to the developments in the Gulf countries in the Red Sea, in the Arabian peninsula, the Middle East, and in the Horn of Africa and more generally in the African continent. Sudan is important to the European Union in a region that is affected by the challenges of irregular migration, forced displacement, smuggling and trafficking of people, and violent conflict. With nearly 250 million inhabitants and a rapidly growing population, the Horn of Africa hosts the largest number of internally displaced persons and refugees in Africa. These challenges have numerous drivers which vary according to local contexts, but are commonly rooted in a lack of political, economic and social opportunities, restricted natural resources, poverty, instability and climate change.
In front of these challenges, the European Union is conducting a constructive engagement with all Sudanese stakeholders to build confidence, increase understanding and ensure that Sudan conducts a transition to peace and stability. We will discuss with the new Government, with the opposition and with the civil society. There will be no secret deals and there are no hidden agendas and the dialogue on human rights will remain at the core of our discussions.
Also, the European Union is working closely with its member States, regional and international partners to ensure that there is continuous dialogue and enhanced cooperation on Sudan. The European Union continues to support the African Union High Implementation Panel which is active in bringing peace to Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan and to implement agreements between Sudan and South Sudan. The EU commends President Mbeki on his effort to promote a genuine peace and dialogue process. We call on all the Sudanese and international stakeholders to rally behind the AUHIP to reinforce its role and strengthen its voice, on the basis of the roadmap agreed last year.
I am honored on Europe Day 2017 to launch the Education Quality Improvement Programme for 22 million Euros and the Eastern Sudan Health Programme for 12 million Euros. The programme on education will be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF, Save the Children Sweden, the British Council, Expertise France and SOFRECO. The second programme will be implemented by the Italian Development Cooperation. I encourage you to read more on those two important programmes on the booklets that are produced on the occasion of 6o Years of the European Union. The two programmes stress the importance of equality of access between boys and girls to quality education and healthcare for the future of development of Sudan. As you know, most of our projects are implemented in Eastern Sudan namely Kassala, Gedarif and the Red Sea States in close relation with the Sudanese authorities and let me salute the presence of H.E. Mr Musa Mohamed Ahmed, Assistant to the President of the Republic at this special and important occasion.
In parallel, the European Union is gradually transforming its humanitarian aid to development assistance in Sudan. In 2017, we have 250 million Euros worth projects in the regions of Sudan, implemented by 92 international and Sudanese organisations which are present with us this evening. To achieve its development goals and to increase our engagement in Sudan, we will appreciate timely access and presence of security and stability from our partners in the Sudanese side to ensure continuity and permanence.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we are here to celebrate. We have many reasons and an important anniversary to be proud of. And I would like to assure all the audience present today that a new phase in the relations between Sudan and the European Union has started.
A new page is turned.
A new process of dialogue and consultation is launched to put Sudan on a path to peace, prosperity and justice.
A path that can strengthen human rights and achieve stability for the Sudan and the region.
A path that can make the wealth of Sudan more accessible to the Sudanese and bring Sudan closer to the world.
I thank you…Shukran Jazelan