Sudan & the EU
Sudanese Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Ibrahim Al Tahir visited the European Parliment
Sudan is the second largest country in Africa, third largest country in the Arab World and 16th largest country in terms of area in the world. It has one of the most diverse populations in the whole African continent. After the joint administration by Egypt and Britain, Sudan gained independence in January 1st 1956.
Sudanese-European Union relations have been conditioned by the protracted conflict between the North and the South of the country since then. In July 2002, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A signed the Machakos Protocol, a historic agreement that supposed the first step towards peace in the country, before the formal signature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on January 9, 2005.
The European Union (EU), that was deeply concerned during the civil war about issues related to human rights and democracy has temporarily suspended relations. In March 1999, EU welcomed the commitment of the government and the SPLM/A to achieve a peace agreement and started a political dialogue aimed at addressing concerns about human rights, good governance, rule of law and democratization, fundamental values in the base of the EU existence.
In June 2002, the EU acknowledged improvements in several areas of concern and pledged to fully normalize its relations with Sudan and resume cooperation as well as underscored its intention to support implementation of the CPA and assist Sudanese population.
The European Union has a long heritage of relations since the early 1970s. These relations were necessitated by economic, political, cultural, geographical and strategic relations that shaped those relations. Unfortunately, during the 1990s the relations was troubled by the violence resulted of the civil war between the North and South which minimized the levels of cooperation to humanitarian assistance and other forms of assistance which was provided through international organizations. In addition, the EU states had to apply a diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions and an embargo on selling of arms to Sudan according to UN resolutions.
|European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (C) applauds while European Commissioner for Development Louis Michel (R front) and visiting Sudanese first vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha (L front) exchange documents during the signing ceremony of the EC's Country Strategy Paper (CPS) for Sudan in Brussels Jan. 25, 2005||Dominque De Keysser, Chief of the European Observation Mission chaired the biggest foreign mission to monitor elections in 2010 and referendum in 2012|
The Relations in 1990s
Ali Karti, Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs recieves the European Commissioner for Development
By the beginning of 1999, the Sudanese-EU political relations have transformed into a new stage of engagement and gradual normalisation of relations based on three main reasons.
Firstly, the Sudan has begun a period of political change in the 1990s. The government in Sudan realised that the civil war has exhausted the country and began peace talks with Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM). In addition, the Sudanese government has undergone political and constitutional developments, which are manifested in holding elections, adopting multiparty and the new constitution of Sudan, which was earlier, passed by the National Assembly. All these factors led Sudan to review its foreign policy with the aim of striking a balance between continuity on the one hand and the changes of the international circumstances on the other, which was spelled, in a new document released in 1998. In addition, there was a considerable development in the Sudanese human rights. Secondly, oil and economic prospects have caused the country to move away from the isolation.
Thirdly, the change and improvement in the regional relations is a direct cause of the new reformed Sudanese foreign policy. It was able to normalise relations with Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Chad and Eritrea, which enhances the prospects of stability and cooperation in the region. The break through in the foreign relations of the Sudan particularly with neighbouring countries and a number of European and Asian countries have led to renewed contacts with the EU.
These developments in Sudan regional, economic, political changes and peace talks have led to the intensification of contacts between the Sudan and the EU. Sudan is seen now as a troubled nation that needs a new approach and cooperation with the regime rather than isolating it. The EU tools to reproach the Sudan were through the beginning a critical political dialogue with the government and by continuing the humanitarian aid. As a result the EU began in the 1999 to take a more pro-active, integrated approach, combining dialogue and leverage, in order to create the conditions for improved stability and peace. Political dialogue was seen as a means of leverage through engagement.
Sudanese Activist Dr. Salih Osman awared by the European Parliament with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of thought in 2007
As of November 1999, the EU and the Sudan have been engaged in a formal political dialogue aimed at addressing the concerns about human rights, peace process with the south, rule of law and democratisation. Moreover, the dialogue was followed by parallel discussions in March 2002 and 2003 with the SPLM as a mean for the EU to address the concerns of the civil war, human rights and humanitarian relief with the SPLM too. The Sudanese-EU dialogue key aim is to take advantage of mutual understanding to contribute positively to the reconstruction of relations and development of Sudan based first on understanding the Sudanese needs to assist the people of Sudan in achieving these aspirations. The aim is to build trust between the two parties.
Post the CPA 2005
European Union was a witness to the signed Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM). The agreement brought an end to the long fought civil war between North and South Sudan. Since then the European Union objective was to assist both parties to achieve and maintain peace dividends by applying the CPA fully. The implementing of the CPA has become the main political objective that dominated the EU-Sudanese relations since 2005. The EU has played an important role in the success of implementing the agreement through:
- Continue and Increase of cooperation Projects in both North and South Sudan.
- Continue the political dialogue to push for more democratic change, good governance and to promote respect to human rights.
- Provide technical assistance and consultation to the CPA Partners to maintain peace in both South Sudan and Darfur.
- Support United Nations missions in Darfur to achieve peace and development.
- Continue the largest humanitarian assistance to Sudan and war affected areas.
- Support the processes of elections and referendum of Southern Sudan.
- Provide technical support to post referendum talks.
- Appoint a special European Envoy to follow up and promote peace processes in Sudan.
EU Sudanese Relations today
European Union Ambassador Tomas Ulicny surrounded by their excellencies President Assistant Mr. Abdel Rahman Al Mahdi (L) and Governor of Khartoum Dr. Abdel Rahman Al Khidir (R) at a European Union reception
The Sudanese political scene today is very critical as the referendum conducted in 2011 has resulted in the decision of Southern Sudan region to choose independence from the North. On July 9th South Sudan became an independent country.
In this period of interim the European Union will continue to support the government of Southern Sudan in the following:
- Complete the implementation of the signed Peace Agreement
- Provide technical assistance in the post referendum talks
- Continue the cooperation projects in both Sudan and South Sudan.
- Change the focus from humanitarian aid to sustainable social and economic development whenever possible.
- Support Sudan –South Sudan border areas to achieve conflict prevention.
- Reduce food insecurity in conflict affected areas by linking relief and development.