Speech by Federal Minister Guido Westerwelle regarding the situation in Sudan, 23 June 2011 in Khartoum

23.06.2011 - Speech

Ladies and gentlemen,

The next few weeks will be decisive for the future of Sudan, both North and South. Very soon, the process of South Sudan’s independence will come to an end. But we all know the greater tasks that lie ahead. Establishing borders and writing a constitution are important steps towards statehood.

But shaping new nations needs much more.

Suffering has dominated the lives of so many men, women and children in Sudan for too long. It is time to give them the hope of a better life in peace and prosperity.

The last few years have seen considerable progress, but peace is not won easily. The recent news of violent clashes in Jonglei, Unity, and above all, Abyei and South Kordofan, is alarming.

The destructive logic of violence must finally end, and end for good. The vicious cycle of attack and counter-attack must be broken. It is the duty of all parties involved to seek a peaceful and sustainable solution.

The Addis Ababa Agreement on withdrawing troops from Abyei is a step in the right direction. Sudan must continue on this path. It must find peace, security, and prosperity for all its people. This will not be easy. But Sudan is not alone. Sudan has many friends. And Germany is one of those friends. We stand ready to assist in the great task of developing open and just societies.

As current member of the Security Council, we will contribute to shaping the future role of the United Nations in Sudan.

I am particularly proud that it will be during Germany’s presidency of the Security Council that we will welcome South Sudan as the 193rd state of the United Nations. I trust that the day South Sudan joins the United Nations will be a day of confidence and hope. It will mark a new dawn for both South and North Sudan.

Without the great dedication of international peacekeepers, we would not be where we are today. Again and again, the men and women of UNMIS have demonstrated extraordinary courage.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all our partners who have contributed to UNMIS. Above all, I would like to underscore the enormous commitment by African nations.

As we speak, the future role of UNMIS is under consideration in New York. What is happening in South Kordofan and in Abyei is compelling evidence that UNMIS should not only play a role in the South, but continues to be essential in the North. Especially in Abyei, neutral peacekeeping troops are urgently needed. This week’s understanding on demilitarization is a promise that needs to be fulfilled. As a friend of this country, I am convinced that a neutral UN peacekeeping presence also in the North is in Khartoum’s own best interests.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I was in Darfur today and saw first-hand how serious the situation is.

I regret that the Doha peace agreement could not be finalized as planned, and I look forward to the day when the parties return to the negotiation table. But in the meantime, we cannot stand idly by. It is the responsibility of the Sudanese Government to guarantee security and complete freedom of movement for those on the ground helping the people of Darfur. And I believe the Sudanese Government can do more to facilitate the outstanding contribution being made by the UN mission and development organisations.

I applaud Thabo Mbeki’s remarkable leadership. He has done excellent work for the African Union and the people of Darfur. He can count on Germany’s continued support in his efforts to guarantee them the opportunity to return to their homes and enjoy the prospect of a better life free of violence.

Germany has been cooperating with Sudan for many years. There is a lot of remarkable work we can build upon. Now the people of Sudan are reinventing themselves, building nations in the South and in the North. In this endeavour, our Sudanese friends will have a reliable partner in Germany.

Germany is aware that the burdens of the past have too long overshadowed Sudan’s road towards a better future. One burden is foreign debt. Germany is campaigning strongly to have Sudan released from this 36-billion-dollar weight. I am talking about the “zero option”: Within two years, we would completely cancel the entire debt which North Sudan would have to shoulder formally.

With the majority of oil fields in the South, and most of the oil infrastructure in the North, both sides can only benefit from cooperation. It is the very interdependence of North and South that makes it so important to improve the lives of citizens on both sides of the border. I am confident that all issues can be resolved peacefully, whether they concern citizenship, freedom of residence for the other state’s citizens, or border regimes. Integrating former combatants back into civilian society will also be a huge task. But reconciliation is possible.

The talks I held in Khartoum today with Foreign Minister Karti and Vice President Taha have given me the confidence that a spirit of reconciliation can govern future relations between the North and the South.

Tomorrow in Juba, I expect a similarly positive spirit when I discuss the situation with President Salva Kiir.

Peace in Sudan is not a matter of weeks or months, but a historic challenge for many years to come. It will require hard work. Germany is determined to remain at Sudan’s side on the difficult road ahead. Our ties with Sudan have grown during long years of close Sudanese-German partnership. When, in a few weeks, South Sudan becomes independent, we will establish strong ties with the youngest state in Africa. But also our ties to the North will be as strong as ever. Germany will be true friend to both countries. And I am confident that, when we look back a few years from now, we will be proud to have been part of Sudan’s new beginning.

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