Delegation of the European Union to Sudan

The New Sudan and the European Union Partners for peace and democracy

Khartoum, 01/03/2020 - 11:06, UNIQUE ID: 200301_1
HR/VP speeches

Draft Lecture by H.E. Josep Borrell

EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission

Faculty of Law

University of Khartoum

29 February 2020


The New Sudan and the European Union:

Partners for peace and democracy


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[Honorable Vice-Chancellor of Khartoum University, Madame Fadwa Abdel Rahman,

Honorable Dean of the faculty of Law of the Khartoum University, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Salam,]


Distinguished guests, dear students,

I am honored to be here in Khartoum, the famous confluence of the White and the Blue Nile. I am particularly pleased to be with you in Sudan, which alongside Ethiopia, is the first African country I am visiting since the beginning of my mandate in December of last year.

Renewing our partnership with Africa is a top priority for the EU and for me personally. I am pleased to share some ideas but above all to hear from you - on how we can revamp the relationship between the EU and Africa in general and with Sudan in particular.

Before we get to that, let me thank the Vice-Chancellor of Khartoum University for the invitation to speak at this remarkable institution, which has produced generations of researchers and practitioners in various academic fields. It has long been a beacon of knowledge for the African continent. As a former university Professor myself, I know first-hand the importance of cultivating knowledge and critical thinking.

Also, allow me to say that I am honoured to be with you in this hall, which was renamed only 2 weeks ago after Mohammed Abdel Salam, one of the victims of the previous regime. Almost one year after the ''glorious revolution'', we are still humbled and feel for all those who have lost their lives. Both during the December Revolution, but also during 30 years of undemocratic rule.

As EU, we are well aware of the physical damage inflicted during the attacks on the university on 3 June. We commend the resilience of private initiatives to undo this damage and to revitalize this beautiful institution.

I came here tonight to hear from you, to learn from you,  the young generation of Sudan,  on what your aspirations are, how you want to shape your future, which is the future of Sudan and the African continent. I look forward very much to the exchange of views we will have.

You, the young Sudanese have inspired the world. I want to pay special tribute to the young men and particularly the women of Sudan for showing the world again and again that people are power, and that peaceful change is possible. One of the slogans was ''Revolution is a woman''. You may well be right!

Tonight, I say clearly: We, the European Union, as countries and people, fully support your call for peace, justice and liberty. We want the New Sudan to succeed. We want your call for liberty to be heard and translated into real change for a country that has already suffered too much.

Since December 2018 Sudan engaged in a new path, a long walk to peace, democracy and respect for human rights. As European Union we want to walk that walk together with you. Let me explain in a few words the reason why.

The European Union is a community of values. These fundamental values are respect for human rights, democracy, peace, solidarity and the rule of law. In Europe, we have learned the lesson of peace the hard way. In fact, we only learned it after two devastating world wars which erupted on our continent. Now, these fundamental values are engrained in our European DNA. Strikingly, these same values are those underpinning the peaceful transition in Sudan.

Our fundamental principles and values define who we are but also how we engage in and with the world. It is why we care so much about building and defending the rules based international order, characterised by multilateralism, sustainable development, and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. We need to defend principles precisely when they are being undermined by power politics and the use of force.

In pursuing this principled approach, the European Union sees in the new Sudan an important partner. We want to partner with you to promote peace and stability in your region and in fact on the whole continent.

My visit to your country marks a new chapter in the longstanding relations between the European Union and the Sudan. We feel it is time to open a new page by engaging actively with the civilian  government which the revolution has put in place. We need more dialogue, more exchange and more common action.

We have a shared interest in improving security in the wider region. In the wake of alarming security conditions in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Central African Republic we must ensure the stability of Sudan and promote deeper cooperation among regional actors for peaceful and comprehensive solutions. As the new Chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), Sudan can play a leading role. Sudan is already ushering change in neighboring South Sudan.

We need to work together to prevent extremism, terrorism and violence. This deadly triangle is a common threat to Sudan and Europe alike. We are in this fight together.

The best way to counter the deadly triangle is to advance with a positive triangle: peace, democracy and sustainable development. We know that the transitional process towards a democratically elected government in Sudan might face setbacks. However, it is the right way to go and work for the broadest possible consensus among all Sudanese.

You need to work on all fronts of the positive triangle. Without peace, there cannot be real development nor democratic consolidation. The same is true for the other sides of the triangle. The EU will be at your side and support in particular the Sudanese people living in the conflict-affected  areas of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.  We work both on emergency response and long-term development.

I am aware that you want to see action and outcomes instead of bland promises and pledges. Let me mention concrete examples of the work we are doing in support of peace, democracy and sustainable development here in Sudan.

The total value of current EU support to Sudan is approximately € 240 million, spread over 70 projects and programmes.

In addition, we are preparing a special € 100 million support package, that I announced today to the Prime Minister, for the transition process. This package will cover a broad range of activities to support this crucial transformation:

  • support for social safety nets for the most vulnerable segments of the population
  • assistance for the economic reform programme,
  • providing economic opportunities for young men and particularly young women, and
  •  support for the democratization processes leading to free and credible elections.

Being the guest of Khartoum University tonight, I am happy to mention specific EU support to higher education in Sudan. After decades of oppression, there is an urgent need to rebuild the higher education sector. And we want to be part of it.

The European Union has cooperated with the University of Khartoum on several projects: for example on the promotion of gender equality, on development studies and on student exchanges. The majority of Sudanese who have received Erasmus Mundus scholarship come from this University.

 In the field of Arts and Culture, which is booming in Sudan today, the EU is also supporting the training of young fashion designers, young musicians, and emerging filmmakers, through a programme called Creative Connections, working with various Sudanese higher education institutions, including Khartoum University.


The European Union will continue to be a friend and partner to the people of Sudan.  We want Sudan to re-enter the world of global academic learning and to reconnect Sudanese youth, research and businesses to their peers in the rest of world.

You all deserve the benefits of global cultural, political, and economic integration.

As elsewhere the youth are the future and the hope of this country. [Let me therefore close this lecture with a quotation by the famous Sudanese poet and teacher Mahjoub Shareef:

Born are the beautiful children, hour by hour with brightest eyes,

And loving hearts you have bestowed upon fatherland, they will come,

For bullets aren't the seeds of life. Cut?]

I want to encourage you to aim high and continue on the path of peaceful change, of rebuilding your country and creating the New Sudan.

Thank you for your attention and I look forward to your comments and questions.


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