Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

EU countries recognise South Sudan

  • The 2005 referendum in southern Sudan counted 98 percent in favour of independence (Photo: USAID)

All 27 EU member states have officially endorsed the independence of South Sudan despite ongoing differences on recognition of Kosovo and, potentially, Palestine.

"On this historic day, the EU and its member states welcome the Republic of South Sudan as a new independent state," the EU said in a formal communique on Sunday (9 July) after the flag raising ceremony in the new capital of Juba on Saturday.

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The EU praised the government of Sudan proper, from which the new country split, on its decision to also instantly recognise its new neighbour.

Noting the progress from decades of civil war, to a 2005 peace agreement to a recent referendum on independence, the union said the final outcome is "a true reflection of the democratically expressed wishes of the people of South Sudan."

The EU also called on the new leadership in Juba to "embrace pluralism and diversity and lay the foundation for a democratic, fair and inclusive society, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Once Africa's largest country, Sudan was from 1955 to 2005 torn apart by internecine conflict which claimed some 2 million lives and forced 4 million to flee their homes.

The referendum, in January, saw 98 percent of people in the south vote for independence.

The EU consensus on South Sudan stands in contrast to its handling of Kosovo.

Five EU countries - Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain - continue to deny sovereignty to the former Serbian province after it declared independence in 2008.

The situation poses problems for Pristina's EU integration efforts. But the five refuseniks have found a workable modus vivendi with the rest of the EU and the US, contributing to EU aid and police missions in the disputed territory.

The EU faces what could be a more ugly split on the question of Palestinian independence in the coming months, however.

The Quartet - the EU, Russia, the UN and the US - at a high-level meeting in Washington on Monday began looking for ways to encourage the Palestinians to drop their plan to seek UN recognition in September.

If the Palestinian side goes ahead, pro-Palestinian member states such as Belgium, France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden are expected to show support, while pro-Israeli EU countries such as the Czech republic, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands are likely to come out against.

A senior EU official recently described the potential diplomatic fallout as a "train crash."

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