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FULL Speech of EU Ambassador to South Sudan at the National Dialogue conference

Saturday, Nov 14, 2020(Nyamilepedia)South Sudan needs concrete reforms and inclusive dialogue to get sustainable peace.Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends …

As these meetings and exchanges organized within the National Dialogue are coming to their final moments, I would like to thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to speak as the EU Ambassador, also on behalf of the Team Europe of the Juba-based Ambassadors of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Let me first congratulate all delegates for this on-going dialogue. What we have witnessed during these days is the willingness for many South Sudanese, while violence is still widespread over the country, to choose to prioritize dialogue. This is giving us the hope to see this openness to political dialogue fully shared by political leaders at all level. By all means this is a necessary pre-condition, but not a sufficient one. All of us here should not forget that it is not enough to dialogue among ourselves or among those with similar ideas. Dialogue is the most helpful when it bridges different opinions, even different identities, and when the commitments emerging from that dialogue are kept.

How to bridge the gaps? Through the thorough and comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement, as it is the inclusive process involving all parties under the auspices of the region. In particular, a holistic approach to Transitional Justice and an inclusive work for the permanent constitution should be pursued in the framework of the Peace Agreement.

What does it mean? Two things. Firstly, that the revitalised government of national unity furthers the strong and sincere spirit of collaboration to bring security and stabilization, promote much needed reconciliation and justice, and deliver essential basic services to the people of South Sudan In this regard, the swift appointment of state governors and local governments is of particular importance together with the outstanding security arrangements. On both counts, the situation is stalled. Even more importantly, the Revitalized Legislative Assembly has to be formed without any further delay, in order to make possible both the routine governance decisions – such as a long delayed national budget- and the important reforms foreseen by the peace agreement.

The implementation of the Peace Agreement implies that the outcomes of the National Dialogue and of other fora have to be factored into the process established by the Peace Agreement itself. More specifically, we consider that the conclusions of the National Dialogue will form ONE of the elements for future discussions in the framework of the different chapters of the peace agreement, with the monitoring and stimulus of the partners in the Revitalised Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (RJMEC).

Let me share with you a concern and a hope. One of our main concerns is the continuous spread of local violence, with civilians as the most numerous victims and even including with frightening frequency the humanitarian workers. The parties are still accepting defections of commanders from the other side, often accompanied by violent clashes. Nobody, neither here in Juba nor elsewhere, will gain from keeping up the widespread localised violence in South Sudan.

Our hope is that together the international community and the government will find the ways to address the serious economic crisis faced by the country. We encourage the Government to continue their efforts on Public Finance Management and to decide and implement the necessary reforms.

Team Europe, meaning the EU and its Member States, has invested more than one billion Euros since the independence of South Sudan for projects benefiting its population. Now, in the midst of the world economic crisis caused by COVID, our masters – the nearly 500 million European Union’s citizens- are about to put aside some of their hard-won tax money for the EU 7-years development aid programmes. Decisions will be taken in the next weeks in Brussels and in the European capitals on which of our partner countries will deserve the investment of our taxpayers. Only the concrete advancement on the long awaited reforms in the coming weeks can allow myself and my Team Europe colleagues from the Member States to convince EU taxpayers that their dwindling money would be well invested in South Sudan. On such basis, we could work together towards a mutual accountability framework.

South Sudanese of whichever ethnic background have an undisputed common denominator: courage. We commend the South Sudanese citizens’ courage in facing every day the economic hardship, the natural disasters like the persisting floods, the direct and indirect impact of the COVID19 pandemic, and also contributing to the public debate in a very challenging environment for those who speak out.

Your commitment to dialogue here demonstrates once more your courage. We are confident you will demonstrate even more of it as of tomorrow, when you will remind your country leaders to stick to their commitments in the Peace Agreement, and when you will keep up the dialogue beyond those who were able to participate to the National Dialogue. We will continue to be on the side of the honest South Sudanese citizens who strive for peace.

Because to be one Nation there is no other way than continuous dialogue.

THANK YOU


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