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Guest of Honour, Honourable Presidential Advisor on Education Dr John Gai Yoh, Hon. Ministers, Hon. Members of Parliament, Religious leaders, SRSG, Ambassadors and Heads of Mission, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I welcome all of you to the celebration of Europe Day at the EU Compound.
Before I begin, I would like to thank all my colleagues in the Delegation for their hard work in the setup of this wonderful event.
On this day, the 9th of May 1950, after two devastating world wars, the French Foreign Minister 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 make further conflicts in Europe, as he put it, “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”
Since that time, the collaboration and partnership that ensued from the Franco/German initiative has evolved into the European Union we know today, which has brought unprecedented peace and prosperity to the citizens of 28 Member States. I grew up watching my own country, Ireland, benefit from European Union funding as South Sudan does today, with white placards telling us which roads or bridges had been funded by Europe.
Today in Juba, the EU is represented by the Delegation and by six of our Member States: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Together we are the second largest provider of development and humanitarian aid to South Sudan; providing support to diverse areas including health, education, job creation, human rights, youth and women empowerment as well as to cultural programmes and to the peace process.
The EU has been working in solidarity with South Sudan for many years and we continue every day. We are here to promote European Union fundamental values in the country; respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. We are here to help the people of South Sudan to achieve the peace, stability and prosperity that they so deserve. We are here to provide humanitarian assistance to people in urgent need.
To give you some examples of what this looks like in practice, apart from the significant amount of funds being invested by our Member States, the EU Delegation alone has a current development portfolio of €260m.
Through our ECHO office we provided €45 million in humanitarian assistance including food and nutrition assistance, and importantly protection services for survivors of sexual violence. We fund NGOs to respond rapidly to new displacements and disease outbreaks to ensure that the most vulnerable are supported quickly and effectively. For instance we are responding to the current measles outbreak in Gogrial East County.
Many of our partners are here tonight, local civil society organisations, churches, human rights defenders, government ministries, international NGOs and companies and UN agencies. We are grateful to you all for your enormous efforts in assisting the people of South Sudan on our behalf. Thank you.
Europe Day falls this year in a crucial period for South Sudan. Important progress has been made since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in September 2018, including an overall reduction in political violence and trust and confidence building measures between the parties. We welcome this.
We also welcome the fact that a consensus was reached by the parties to the agreement on the issue of the extension of the Pre-Transitional Period in Addis last Friday. We are encouraged by the willingness of the parties to compromise and see the consensus reached as evidence of their commitment to work together in a concerted manner to accelerate implementation of the outstanding tasks in the next 6 months.
The road ahead will be long and bumpy, as every peace process is. But we are convinced that the South Sudanese people want peace, and where there is a will, there is a way.
Over the next six months and beyond, we urge the parties to the peace agreement to communicate with each other at a high level in order to find solutions to the outstanding issues. But we also urge them to listen to the voices of civil society, of women, of the Churches, of faith based organizations, human rights activists, and of youth. We believe that more space should be given to these voices, not just on the peace process but on all aspects of South Sudanese society and governance. For the European Union, freedom of expression is a cornerstone of a democratic society.
Our partners R-JMEC and CTSAMVM are key mechanisms for the peace process. I take this opportunity to commend them for their work and urge parties to the peace agreement to work with them collaboratively, and particularly to provide CTSAMVM with the necessary access to do its work.
We have seen important improvements in humanitarian access over the past 8 months but more remains to be done here. Aid should be allowed to reach its destinations without financial or bureaucratic obstacles. I commend all humanitarian agencies and aid workers for your commitment.
Regionalism and multilateralism is a core European Union value and one we promote in South Sudan. We are guided in our support to the peace process by a positive engagement and support to IGAD and beyond with the African Union and the wider International Community. I thank these colleagues here tonight for their excellent collaboration.
In closing we look forward to a future in South Sudan when guns are silent, when 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 country. The European Union will stand with you on this journey. Let us toast to the well-being of H.E. the President Salva Kiir Mayardit, of the people of South Sudan and of all of you.
European Compound- Kololo
Kololo, Juba, South Sudan.
PPI Section, South Sudan Delegation.