Thank you very much, Mr. President.
On behalf of Portugal, I would like to start by saluting the independence of the Republic of South Sudan and welcoming this new country to our community of independent States. I am particularly pleased to greet here, today, His Excellencies Vice President Riek Machar Teny-Dhurgon and Ambassador Daffa-Alla Osman.
The Portuguese people have a special affinity with Africa forged by centuries of shared History. Witnessing the arrival of the new South Sudan on the world stage as an independent nation is undoubtedly a special moment for us, marking the beginning of a new phase in our relationship, with both the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. Portugal looks forward to continuing working with both in building a peaceful and prosperous future for the two countries, and indeed for Africa in general.
Portugal was represented at the independence ceremonies in Juba by the Portuguese Ambassador António Monteiro, former Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs and member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Panel for the monitoring of the referendum held last January. In Juba, the Portuguese Representative had the opportunity to convey a letter from the President of Portuguese Republic to the President of the Republic of South Sudan expressing wishes for peace, stability and development to the new State.
I would also like to take this opportunity to recall that Portugal has already recognized the Republic of South Sudan as an independent and sovereign State, as have the other EU member States. Portugal is now looking forward to establishing diplomatic relations with the Republic of South Sudan.
We also welcome the recognition of the new country by the Republic of Sudan and by the members of the African Union.
Let me also commend the Sudanese people for their peaceful determination and for the orderly way in which they expressed their will. The referendum was a milestone, not only in terms of the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but also in terms of underlining the Sudanese’s people attachment to a peaceful solution for their differences.
Allow me yet to voice our sincere appreciation for all the work and efforts the Secretary-General, his Special Representative, Haile Menkerios, as well as the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel and its chair, President Thabo Mbeki, have undertaken and that have led to the birth of the new country.
We are also deeply grateful to the leaders and peacekeepers of the UN Mission in Sudan for their invaluable assistance throughout the entire process, their dedication and commitment.
The independence of the Republic of South Sudan is but a step, albeit an important one. But in order to fulfill the expectations that it entails, the challenges that still remain must be addressed in an urgent and comprehensive way. That is why we encourage President Bashir and President Salva Kiir to grasp this opportunity and to spare no effort in solving all the outstanding issues between their two countries.
As we have repeatedly stated, dialogue and political commitment, at the highest level, is what is needed in order to ensure that this historic moment becomes a moment of lasting progress. We are thus encouraged by the July 4th meeting between the two Presidents at the Extraordinary Session of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development on Sudan, in Addis Ababa, and their commitment to continue negotiations after the 9th of July.
In this regard, Portugal welcomes the recent progress parties made on interim agreements for Abyei and security arrangements for the border zone between the North and the South. Negotiations on other issues have also continued.
But we must underline that finding an agreement on the final status of Abyei and reaching common understanding on key issues such as citizenship, management of the oil sector and border management are essential to ensure a peaceful future and a mutually beneficial relationship between the two States and their viability. We gave our support to the establishment of United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei and we share the view that North and South would benefit from the UN’s assistance concerning the border.
We also urge the two leaders to make full use of the good offices of the AU High Level Implementation Panel, under the leadership of President Mbeki.
Unfortunately, the encouraging progress in several areas that I have just mentioned has yet to be reflected in Southern Kordofan. As all members of the Council, Portugal has been deeply concerned by the ongoing fighting in that State, causing an alarming and increasing number of displaced persons.
We condemn the lack of access for humanitarian agencies and we urge all parties to grant them full and unconditional access.
We also call on the two sides to follow through on the political and security framework agreement negotiated by the National Congress Party and the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement-North, to find a quick solution to this situation and to put an immediate end to the hostilities.
Peace and hope should be extensive to all Sudanese, including those in Darfur. I therefore reiterate Portugal’s commitment to working toward improving the lives of all Darfuris.
To conclude, let me underline again that the continuing commitment, engagement and spirit of close cooperation of both Governments will be necessary to achieve a peaceful and prosperous future for the North and the South alike.
Likewise, the international community should continue to afford to the two States the support and encouragement they will need in the still difficult times ahead. For the immediate future, the United Nations will remain in South Sudan and the mandate for the new United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan has been adopted by the UN Security Council. In the same way that we have supported and strongly encouraged this presence in the South, we will continue to support all efforts that the Republic of Sudan believes may contribute to making this new chapter equally successful for its people.
Finally, allow me to express my best wishes to future 193rd member of the UN General Assembly. I also hope that the near future will bring peace, stability and prosperity to all the peoples in the region. Indeed, this is the only outcome that will justly honour their past struggle and suffering while meeting their expectations and aspirations regarding the future.
I thank you.