Spindelegger: “There must not be another Darfur”
Austrian Foreign Minister places special focus on Sudan at UN General Assembly
New York, 24 September 2010 – Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger today participated in a high-ranking summit which discussed the future of Sudan: chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, it was also attended by US President Barack Obama, the Presidents of Gabon and Kenya, and Foreign Ministers of France and Germany, Bernard Kouchner and Guido Westerwelle. Following the meeting, Foreign Minister Spindelegger stated that “Sudan is currently passing through a period of high risk. A referendum on the independence of Southern Sudan will take place in four months. Millions of people are still living in refugee camps, while civilians are being still exposed to violence. At today’s summit the international community made it clear that the fate of Sudan is at the very top of the international agenda. I welcome President Obama’s decision to give this issue the utmost priority and deal with it personally. Sudan’s stability is crucial for the entire region. A new civil war could trigger a domino effect that might sweep through several neighbouring states.”
In view of the explosive nature of this issue, the Foreign Minister also placed a special focus on Sudan in his bilateral contacts during the UN General Assembly. At his meetings with Sudan’s high representatives, including Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti as well as representatives of Southern Sudan, namely Minister for Peace Pagan Amum, and Minister for Regional Co-operation Dang Alor, Spindelegger discussed the current situation as well as possible scenarios. “It is important that I listen to as many Sudanese voices as possible in this situation, and obtain direct information as regards their concerns and worries,” asserted the Foreign Minister. “I have offered all interlocutors practical Austrian support, in particular with regard to legal questions which have to be resolved no matter what the outcome of the referendum may be. Austria is prepared to contribute its expertise,” continued Spindelegger.
“All parties that have participated in the talks are aware that Sudan is at a crossroads. The first task is to ensure a fair, transparent and free referendum on the independence issue. The preparations are currently certainly not proceeding in a way we would have wished,” emphasised Spindelegger. The risk of new conflicts remains very high. But it must be clear to all that there must not be another Darfur,” Spindelegger stressed. The vote on the possible independence of Southern Sudan, which is scheduled for January 2011, holds enormous potential for discord, in relation to such open issues as the drawing of borders, the distribution of oil revenues as well as questions of nationality.
Following his Sudan meeting the Foreign Minister also praised the role of the United Nations: “Peace missions such as UNAMID and UNMIS make an indispensable contribution to the protection of the civilian population – in inconceivably difficult conditions. Certainly, it is primarily the Sudanese government’s task to supply its people with the fundamentals for living and ensure their protection, but in this both regional know-how and international solidarity are required to successfully manage the task,” concluded Spindelegger.
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