Vienna, 9 July 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “Austria recognises Southern Sudan as an independent state”

Letter of recognition presented in Juba

Vienna, 9 July 2011 – In a letter written by Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger, Austria today recognised Southern Sudan as an independent state. The Foreign Minister’s letter to his Southern Sudanese colleague was handed over by an Austrian delegation within the framework of the independence celebrations in the capital of Southern Sudan, Juba. In the Foreign Minister’s letter Austria recognises the newly founded Republic of Southern Sudan under international law and proposes the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Spindelegger said that he shared the joy of the celebrating people in Juba and wished the youngest state in the world and its population a good start into the future and a great deal of strength and wisdom on their new path. “Even at such a festive moment the difficult tasks faced by the two states, Sudan and Southern Sudan, must not be forgotten. Both countries still have to master great challenges, each on its own as well as on a common basis,” emphasised the Foreign Minister. This included unresolved issues such as the distribution of resources, the drawing of borders and the status of some border regions such as Abyei. In this context Spindelegger expressed his concern about the latest developments in the border region of South Kordofan, where thousands of people were fleeing. In the interests of protecting civilians there was an urgent humanitarian imperative to put an end to the hostilities and displacements, he said.

The Foreign Minister reminded his audience that the international community, including the European Union and Austria, was prepared to help manage the forthcoming tasks. Spindelegger referred to the aid packages in the amount of over 350 million euros prepared by the EU foreign ministers for Sudan and Southern Sudan. “By granting this aid, we are helping to open up perspectives for a peaceful future for the people of both countries in their respective home country,” said the Foreign Minister.

The Foreign Minister reiterated that as a result of the separation of the two states many people may have become members of a religious or ethnic minority in their respective country, Sudan or Southern Sudan. The Foreign Minister appealed to the governments in Khartoum and Juba to be aware of their responsibility for minorities, including religious minorities. “The legal systems of the two states must not allow discrimination of people on account of their ethnic or religious affiliation,” emphasised Spindelegger, referring to Austria’s traditional commitment to respect for human rights, especially freedom of religion and protection of religious minorities.

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