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Andris Piebalgs

European Commissioner for Development

South Sudan: towards the creation of a new state

Inauguration of the EU Compound and Europe Day Celebration

Juba, South Sudan, 13 May 2011

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The road ahead

It is a great pleasure to be here in Juba – soon to become the world's newest capital city – as South Sudan prepares for independence. I am glad to be here to see for myself how South Sudan is gearing up for this new chapter in the history and to assess how the European Union can do its bit to help.

Domestic challenges and development

Let us rejoice, but let us also remind each other that with independence comes enormous responsibility. In saying this I am speaking from personal experience. My active political engagement saw me closely involved in our efforts to rebuild my home country of Latvia when it regained independence just 21 year ago. So when I tell you that I know how South Sudanese feel, I am speaking from my heart. South Sudan has enormous tasks ahead – as a government, as political parties and as citizens of this new country.

To that end I would call on the government to make a strong commitment to address the huge challenges South Sudan is facing and to adopt a transparent, accountable and inclusive approach to governance. I would call on the political parties to work together to shore up pluralism, the competition of ideas and best practices in South Sudan. The political parties also ought to fully represent the people of the country and hold the government to account for its actions. To this end, stable democratic political institutions will be required.

The drafting of a new constitution is an opportunity to define the model of society you want. Well conducted the constitutional process will help shaping the emerging political culture of South Sudan. I would call on the people of South Sudan to help make their country a truly participatory democracy and ensure that the politicians they elect fully represent them and work for them. And I would call on you all together to seize the opportunities to build a functioning and stable democracy with both hands.

As a witness to the CPA, the EU has a long-standing political commitment to Sudan. It urges all parties to redouble their efforts to reach agreement on all outstanding issues, in order to enable the existence and viability of two States. We look forward to developing a close and long-term partnership with South Sudan to assist its development. Indeed, we are already delivering support to South Sudan in many ways: in the form of development assistance, humanitarian assistance, support to UNMIS and help in the fields of stabilisation, security and human rights.

Last year the EU made 150 million euro available for the most vulnerable populations in Sudan, both in the South and in some regions in the North. And I am happy to say that we plan to make an additional substantial contribution to South Sudan of 200 million euro. The European Commission has made a proposal along these lines to the EU Member States, to which I expect them to agree. The EU will also present its overall contribution to South Sudan at the Pledging Conference later this year and will be encouraging other donors to do the same.

The funds we are making available will be used to speed up efforts to support basic services – notably education and health – agriculture, food security and democratic governance, and to boost institutional capacity-building. Moreover, as it goes about refreshing its approach to development the EU is looking at joint programming between the European Commission and Member States to achieve maximum impact and create important synergies. We want to see every euro spent make a real difference for the better.

Democracy and governance issues

The EU is not only about economic integration and regional cooperation. It is a community of values. The EU lays great store by the fundamental principles of human rights, rule of law, and democracy and governance. As I suggested a moment ago, South Sudan needs political reforms, an open and pluralistic society and better political representation. Constitutional reform can be an opportunity to start an open process of reforming South Sudan's political system.

Events in the region show that political regimes must listen to their people. Corruption must be fought with vigour and elected politicians must be constantly reminded of their obligation to be accountable towards their people for whom they serve. South Sudan must give itself a good springboard from which to fight corruption, build up governance and state structures and generate income for itself and for all its people.

The EU can engage with South Sudan in a broad and honest dialogue on these issues. As partners, we should be brave enough to tell each other the truth – even if the truth can sometimes be difficult to hear. In any event, the people of South Sudan can count on the EU to be a reliable partner. I hope that this dialogue will become both easier and more substantial following our planned upgrade of our office here in Juba into an EU delegation to South Sudan.

As a new nation you have a rare opportunity to get things right from the start. Missing that opportunity is simply not an option.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We look forward to welcoming South Sudan into the community of nations. Your independence will mark the start of the long journey towards becoming a viable, stable, democratic nation. The path stretching out before may sometimes look daunting. However, you should remember that you have friends around the world ready to help you assume your responsibilities and start off on the right path.

You should remember, too, that your journey will be all the smoother if you plan it together, as a country united in purpose, with a common vision. I look forward to watching your progress along the path towards building a viable nation with its eyes firmly fixed on delivering democracy, stability and economic, social and cultural development to its people. I wish you luck on your exciting journey together.

My visit to Juba is intense, but short. I am therefore delighted to be able to officially inaugurate tonight the EU Compound, the symbol our permanent presence and engagement.

The Compound was offered by the Government of Southern Sudan in the immediate aftermath of the CPA signature. The place is historic, I am told, since this used to be the logistical base of an EDF project named Upper Talanga Rural Development Program, stopped by the war. The Compound now revives this old presence.

Thank you.

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