Vienna, 14 July 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: „Protection of the civilian population in Sudan is the top priority“

Foreign Minister meets his Sudanese colleague

Vienna, 14 July 2010 – „The stability of Sudan is crucial for the entire region. A new civil war, which would once again inflict great suffering upon the population, must be avoided by all means“, said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, following his meeting with the new Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti.

Next to bilateral topics, their discussions focused on further developments in Sudan, where the population is most likely to decide in a referendum to be held in January 2011 whether Southern Sudan will remain part of the Sudanese State or become independent. „We hope that the peaceful elections for the national assembly in April bode well for the independence referendum in January next year. Whatever the outcome of the referendum in South Sudan, it is decisive that the will of the people is actually implemented thereafter“, stressed Spindelegger.

Not only the significant oil deposits in South Sudan, but also the lack of accurately demarcated boundary lines bear a great potential for conflict in case of a secession by the South. „Austria is willing to support Sudan in this difficult phase", said Spindelegger. Austria, for instance, offered to send observers as part of an EU mission during the referendum, as well as Austrian expertise in legal issues that may arise in case of a secession by South Sudan.

Spindelegger was extremely worried over the situation of the population in the crisis region of Darfur, where armed clashes between the Government and rebels have intensified recently: "Austria traditionally attaches great importance to the protection of the civilian population and compliance with human rights, particularly in its current role as a member of the UN Security Council. It is the responsibility of the Sudanese government to protect its population against attacks. In this regard, the government must also be willing to cooperate with international partners such as the African Union and the United Nations“.

In connection with the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against the Sudanese President al Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity, to which the count of genocide was added this week, Spindelegger reminded his colleague of the obligation to cooperate with the International Criminal Court, even if Sudan is not a contracting state of the Rome Statute: "The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court arises from a UN Security Council resolution and therefore applies to all Member States of the United Nations“, the Foreign Minister clarified.

All photos from the meeting between Foreign Minister Spindelegger and his Sudanese colleague Karti can be found on the homepage of the Foreign Ministry at the following link:

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