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Dear Guest of Honour, Presidential Advisor for Legal Affairs Dr. Lawrence Korbandy, Hon. Ministers, Hon. Members of Parliament, Religious leaders, Hon. Chairs of JMEC and CTSAMM, SRSG, Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, all protocols observed.
I welcome all of you to the celebration of Europe Day at the EU Compound. Before giving my remarks I would like to thank all my Colleagues of this compound for their patience and assistance in the setup of the event, in particular the German and the Danish Colleagues for providing typical food and thank as well Notos for its support.
On 9 of May 1950 the French FM Robert Schumann proposed to place French and German production of coal and steel - strategic items for warfare - under a common high authority in an attempt to prevent further conflicts in Europe. It was the first step on the path that led to today’s European Union.
Europe Day falls this year into a crucial period for South Sudan. Last year in 2017 the 9 of May preceded the establishment of the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) in Addis Ababa in June. This year we are only days away from the resumption of talks in Addis scheduled on 17 May.
The EU together with its Member States and with other international players fully supports the IGAD led revitalization process. The forum succeeded so far in gathering all players around the same negotiating table in an effort to put the peace agreement back on track. What has to be achieved - on the basis of the peace agreement - is realistic power share, viable governance and security structures as well as a clear transitional period.
We all know that there are outstanding issues, gaps that need to be bridged. We are confident that this will happen.
Dear Presidential Advisor (Lawrence Korbandy), the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) bears a historical responsibility to bring peace and stability, to expand democratic space and to bring inclusivity into the political process. Do not miss this opportunity.
There are other initiatives on the ground, the National Dialogue (ND) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) reunification. We salute all efforts that are aimed at silencing the guns and at bringing reconciliation and peace. However, sequencing as well as inclusivity of these initiatives will be key requirements to reach the common goal of peace.
Moreover, voices of the Civil Society, Women, of the Churches, of faith based organizations, human rights activists, and of youth will have to be heard and more space has to be given to them. One thing should not be forgotten: There is one binding document, the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS).
JMEC and CTSAMM are key mechanisms in its implementation, I commend them for their work and UNMISS for its crucial support on the ground as well as for its strategic role in the protection of civilians.
I mentioned the gaps that need to be bridged, but there are issues that should unite all parties unconditionally and immediately, that cannot be postponed, that need immediate action: the interest of South Sudanese people should be put above interests of individuals, guns should be silenced right now, nobody should be exposed to violence, harassment and displacement, nobody should suffer hunger, humanitarian aid should be allowed to reach its destinations without financial or bureaucratic obstacles. I commend all humanitarian agencies and aid workers for their unique commitment.
What should unite all parties as well is the understanding that there is no military solution to this man-made crisis. Those responsible for violations of Cessation of Hostilities Agreement will face consequences; accountability is not an option, it is certainty.
Let me also stress that the EU does not have a pre-cooked solution, we do not have a blueprint for bringing the crisis to an end, but we are guided by a positive engagement and support to dialogue and regional cooperation with IGAD and beyond with the African Union and the International Community.
Dear Presidential Advisor, the economic crisis is biting; existing resources should be used to address firstly the needs of the population. In this context the EU and its Member States have never abandoned South Sudan. The EU is engaged together with its member states in programmes strengthening food security and infrastructures, rural development, basic services, education, governance and we remain a strategic partner in humanitarian assistance through the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
Let me conclude by telling you that this is my fourth and last Europe Day in South Sudan. I had the privilege to live in this country and to learn day by day how much all South Sudanese strive for peace. I will not leave with a light heart; my relationship with South Sudan and with its people has become strong in these years. It is my sincere hope that next year my successor - whoever she or he might be - may address you in a more conducive environment in which guns are finally silent, hunger is mitigated and in which the people of South Sudan may look with increased confidence at a brighter future, at a peaceful, stable and prosperous South Sudan.
Let us toast to the well-being to H.E. the President Salva Kiir Mayardit, of the people of South Sudan and of all of you.
Juba, South Sudan
EU Compound, Kololo, South Sudan
EU Compound, Kololo, South Sudan