Daily Archives: April 13, 2015

Opening Speech of the High Representative and Vice-president Federica Mogherini at the…

Sr. Presidente del Gobierno de España,
Sr. Presidente de la Generalidad de Cataluña,
Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres,
Monsieur le Secrétaire général,
Dear friends,
Venir a Barcelona es siempre un placer. Les quiero agradecer a ellos especialmente y a Mariano Rajoy por el animo político de esta iniciativa. Y también evidentemente a Artur Mas y a Fathallah Sijilmissi por hospedarnos en el Palau de Pedralbes, sede de la Unión por el Mediterráneo.
Y estoy encantada de ver que hemos conseguido venir 32 de los 38 Ministros de Asuntos Exteriores que forman la Vecindad Sur. Si estoy bien informada, no había una reunión así desde noviembre de 2008. Somos vecinos, tenemos que hablar más entre nosotros, escucharnos más y porque nos unen demasiadas cosas para resumirlas en 5 minutos.
L’année 2015  est une année très particulière pour le partenariat euro-méditerranéen. Cela fait 20 ans, comme on l’a rappelé, que nous avons lancé le processus de Barcelone avec l’objectif commun d’un espace de paix, de sécurité, de prospérité. Or les deux rives de la Méditerranée ont subi des évolutions complexes, des défis et des transitions surement difficiles. Les événements du printemps arabe ont eu des conséquences importantes sur les pays du Sud. L’Europe a traversé une crise économique et financière majeure dont les effets sont ressentis encore aujourd’hui. Tous les pays de la région sont confrontés à une situation sécuritaire fragile qui est en même temps conséquence et raison de conflits armés, de plusieurs conflits armés et de crises, notamment en Syrie et en Libye. Nous assistons à une montée du radicalisme auprès de nos jeunes, qui sont de plus en plus nombreux à suivre l’appel meurtrier des sirènes du djihadisme au Nord comme au Sud de la Méditerranée. Les attaques terroristes récentes, à Paris comme à Tunis, et encore hier en Egypte et à l’ambassade marocaine en Libye démontrent qu’un renforcement de notre coopération dans le domaine de la lutte contre le terrorisme s’impose. Mais cela démontre aussi que la meilleure façon de travailler ensemble pour la sécurité de notre région est de renforcer la coopération dans tous les domaines, sécuritaire bien sûr mais aussi économique, culturel, politique. Les 20 dernières années ont amené des changements importants dans nos pays et dans nos relations. D’une part, nous avons approfondi nos relations de façon inédite. Nous avons rapproché les deux rives de la Méditerranée en créant un lien entre nos sociétés, entre nos peuples. Notre engagement dans le contexte de l’Union pour la Méditerranée a davantage intensifié nos échanges, créant un forum de dialogue important et inclusif. Mais nous savons que nos échanges dans le cadre de la Politique européenne de voisinage, n’ont pas toujours été à la hauteur de nos attentes. C’est pourquoi un examen de la Politique et de l’avenir de nos relations s’impose aujourd’hui. Début mars, ensemble avec le Commissaire Hahn, nous avons mis en place un processus de consultation avec les parties prenantes et intéressées dans la région avec les Etats membres et les pays partenaires. La société civile sera consultée de manière très approfondie au cours de ce processus de révision et nous avons l’intention très claire de renforcer son rôle dans la Politique européenne de voisinage.
We need to reflect further together on our way on working together, on our common future. We need to better understand the differences between us and to pay closer attention and most of all respect to our different priorities, to our different ambitions and to our different ways of looking at common problems. More regional differentiation is probably necessary, but so is more differentiation between partners inside regions. But one thing has to be clear to all of us – we are in this together, all of us. We are all different in the EU and in the region. But we share a sea, a region, one of the most turbulent and difficult ones of the world. We all share interests and also values. That is not us and you, that is not Northern and Southern Europe when it comes to our neighbourhood. We are in this together. And this is where I would like to thank the Latvian presidency and Edgars Rink

Sudan votes in controversial poll set to ex…

NNA – Sudanese were voting Monday in elections boycotted by the mainstream opposition that are expected to extend the quarter-century rule of President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on war crimes charges.

With 15 little-known candidates running against him, 71-year-old Bashir faces no real competition in the vote, which has already been criticized by the international community.

Voters will also elect national and state lawmakers in the three-day poll, with Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) expected to dominate.

The streets of the capital were quiet as the vote started, after the government declared polling day a public holiday.

At a polling station in Khartoum’s Al-Daim area, representatives of the candidates had set up stalls outside, as electoral volunteers and observers waited inside.

A small number of people arrived early to vote at Al-Daim.

“I came here because the elections are the right to choose who governs me,” said 25-year-old Abdallah Mohammed Ali.

But on the eve of polling day, many in Khartoum had been less enthusiastic.

“Everyone knows the result of this election,” said Mutawakil Babikir, a 43-year-old shopkeeper.

The elections are the second contested ballots since Bashir seized power in 1989.

Bashir toppled a democratically elected government in an Islamist-backed coup and is Sudan’s longest-serving leader since independence.

He won a 2010 presidential election that was marred by an opposition boycott and criticized for failing to meet international standards.

Under his rule Sudan’s economy has faltered, suffering badly from South Sudan’s 2011 secession, which saw it lose nearly three-quarters of its oil resources.

Conflict has plagued South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011, and the Darfur region since 2003.

Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2009 for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, and the following year for genocide.

Some 300,000 people have been killed in fighting in the western region, the United Nations says.

Rebels have said they will disrupt the elections across the three war-torn areas.

Officials say voting will not take place in one district of Darfur and seven in South Kordofan, but will go ahead at 7,100 polling stations nationwide.

– No ‘credible’ result –

The European Union has already said the elections cannot produce a “credible” result because Bashir’s NCP snubbed a meeting with the opposition to organise a national dialogue last month.

Norway, the United States and Britain warned “an environment conducive to participatory and credible elections does not exist”.

Khartoum released two leading political detainees on Thursday, a move their lawyer said was aimed at easing international pressure before the vote.

Amin Makki Madani and Farouk Abu Issa were arrested in December for signing an agreement aimed at uniting opposition to Bashir.

Human rights groups have accused security services of stifling dissent in the run-up to the elections.

Police in the eastern city of Port Sudan broke up a small student demonstration against the elections on Sunday, witnesses said.

Residents of the Kalma displaced persons’ camp in South Darfur held a peaceful protest against the vote at the headquarters of the peacekeeping force that provides their security.

The government has dismissed such criticism, with presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour saying the elections are “historic”.

Forty-four parties are standing for the state and national parliaments in the country of nearly 38 million people, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said.

The voting is being monitored by 15 international organisations, including the Arab League, the African Union and east African bloc IGAD, according to the NEC.

The presidential election could theoretically go to a second round if no candidate wins a majority although Bashir is expected to win comfortably. The results are expected in late April.–AFP