By José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to welcome President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to the European Commission. This is President Kiir’s first official visit to Brussels since South Sudan’s independence last July and we are happy to receive him here. We just had a very constructive and open discussion. In fact I started by congratulating President Kiir for the independence of his country, South Sudan, and also for his election.
President Kiir informed me of the efforts that his government is undertaking to consolidate South Sudan’s independence and build a stable and functioning state. We, at the European Commission, are longstanding friends of South Sudan and we want to be part of the country’s journey to stability and prosperity. As President Kiir rightly said at the moment of his inauguration: “the eyes of the world are now on us”.
But we are not just looking, we are also giving a hand to support South Sudan’s objective of achieving peace and development.
This is crucial for the South Sudanese first and foremost, but it is also a clear contribution to regional stability.
I commended the President on the progress achieved so far in the talks with Sudan to resolve outstanding issues, in particular on citizenship and border demarcation. President Kiir’s leadership in this process is key and I urged him to continue his efforts to building a lasting and stable relationship with Sudan.
In this respect, I had the opportunity to express our concern regarding the possible political and economic consequences of the shut down in the production of oil, and our growing apprehension with the escalation of violence and cross-border military activity.
The truth is that both countries – Sudan and South Sudan – are destined to live side by side. They must do so in peace and harmony for the benefit of their peoples. Both sides must show determination to find a negotiated solution to all remaining outstanding issues.
The European Union is ready to work with South Sudan and international partners, in particular the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the African Union, to assist in the consolidation of democracy, respect for the rule of law, good governance, and the fight against corruption.
Our readiness to support has been clear from the outset. Together with our member states we have mobilized €700 million of development assistance for the years 2011-2013. This year, 2012, we are providing €45 million in humanitarian assistance.
I welcome President Kiir’s decision, just confirmed in the meeting we had, to request South Sudan’s accession to the Cotonou Agreement. South Sudan’s membership in the Agreement will allow the mobilization of further development assistance to the country for the period 2014-2020.
I also mentioned other possible areas of support: for instance, if South Sudan is recognised as an LDC (Least-Developed Country), we can extend to South Sudan the “Everything but arms” initiative, giving a quota-free, tariff-free access of goods from South Sudan to the European Union internal market. I know that it is in the interest of South Sudan to diversify its economy and to build prosperity for its citizens also based on trade.
Our commitment with South Sudan has not started yesterday and will not cease tomorrow. It is a partnership we want to build for the long haul. South Sudan and its people can count on the European Union as a steadfast partner to build our future together.
I thank you for your attention.