German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok to Berlin on Friday, at a time she says, “Sudan is at a historical turning point”. Hamdok in turn expressed hope of revitalised developmental, technical, political, and financial cooperation between the two countries, especially in light of the decision on Wednesday by the German Bundestag to lift sanctions on Sudan that have been in place since 1989.
At a press conference prior to their talks at the federal chancellery Chancellor Merkel acknowledged that “Sudan is in a historic turning point… we have followed [events in the country] with great sympathy and also great respect over the last year, what the Sudanese people have done without violence and courage, how they have collapsed a regime of injustice and that the country has now begun a new process.”
‘I believe that women were among the driving forces in the period of upheaval; therefore, they should continue to play an important role. They face huge challenges, an incredible legacy, so to speak. They need partners. Germany wants to be such a partner.’ – Chancellor Angela Merkel
“After three decades of dictatorship, a transitional civilian government could be formed under Prime Minister Hamdok, which will govern the country until the democratic elections. We can only begin to imagine what Herculean task it is to tackle political and economic reforms, which is what we want to talk about today and to continue to pave the way towards peace and democracy. I believe that women were among the driving forces in the period of upheaval; therefore, they should continue to play an important role. They face huge challenges, an incredible legacy, so to speak. They need partners. Germany wants to be such a partner,” Chancellor Merkel said.
The Chancellor pointed out that since its inception in 2007, Germany has been participating in the UNMISSION. “We have been involved for many years in the areas of the promotion of the rule of law and peace mediation in Sudan. We provide humanitarian aid.”
Merkel confirmed that on Wednesday, the German Bundestag decided that “we can now resume development cooperation. We are, of course, committed to coordinating international support efforts within the framework of the informal Friends of Sudan group. We say that, of course, the government itself must also lead the process.”
‘We want to do everything we can to ensure that this historic window of opportunity can be used, and we will support Sudan with everything we can…’ – Chancellor Angela Merkel
“It is a very serious economic situation. People are waiting for success, probably for quick successes, and are very unhealthy. That is why we want to do everything we can to ensure that this historic window of opportunity can be used, and we will support Sudan with everything we can with our partners.”
Chancellor Merkel pointed out that The Federal Foreign Minister has already been to Sudan, and that German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be visiting Khartoum in two weeks.
“In this respect, we are also showing through this sequence that the fate of your country is really close to our hearts and that we want to support you to the best of our ability, Merkel told PM Hamdok.
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok
In his reply, Prime Minister Hamdok noted that the timing of his visit is auspicious in light of the Bundestag decision “to withdraw a law that had been in place for 30 years, which did not allow you to offer development cooperation to my country and to give assistance in this area.”
‘Germany has always stood firmly by our side and has helped us a great deal to reach the point where we are today’ – Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok
“I would like to express my sincere thanks for your support to my people over the last few years. This helped us in our darkest hours and then helped us to finally overcome the dictatorship. Germany has always stood firmly by our side and has helped us a great deal to reach the point where we are today.
“If you look at the last 50 years and look at what has happened in Sudan and then remember what happened here in the country 30 years ago, it reminds you of that. A peaceful struggle that has led to what we can see here in Germany today, and a united Germany under the rule of law, which is a strong country. Thank you very much for pointing the way to us!”
‘…the changes in Sudan are very profound. They cover the whole country. But we are so proud to see that our women have paved the way…’ – Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok
“You know that the changes in Sudan are very profound. They cover the whole country. But we are so proud to see that our women have paved the way. When we appointed the government, we made sure that women were in influential positions from the very beginning. We have the first female foreign minister and many other ministers. I think that is a very important point. That is fair. It is also deserving that women are represented in this way. I do not want to pretend that everything is fine and that this is already a perfect situation. Not! But you can count on us to carry on like this.
“Of course, we also rely on the help and support of our friends and partners here in Germany. Of course, we also want to meet the expectations of our people. The peace process is progressing well. We are very grateful that Germany has supported our people and our economy over the years.”
‘Sudan is at a strategic point, in the middle of the Sahel, where all the problems in our region are, so to speak, concentrated…’ – Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok
PM Hamdok acknowledged that the Sudanese economy is a great challenge. “We have huge problems in this regard, which we also have to tackle in the long term. However, I would like to say the following: Sudan is at a strategic point, in the middle of the Sahel, where all the problems in our region are, so to speak, concentrated. You are aware of the problems of this region: Libya, South Sudan and eastern Somalia. If we find a solution in Sudan, I think that it will also have a good effect for others and will have a positive impact on the whole region. We want to focus on this strategic impact.
“If we succeed in getting things right in Sudan, then I think that we can write something like a success story. I think we have all the ingredients you need for that. We have been able to create an excellent link between the military and the civilian population. That is what we need. I think we will be able to achieve that.”
Prime Minister Hamdok concluded with the hope that “we can revitalise and further promote relations between our two nations.”
In a statement via the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) on Thursday, Sudan’s Transitional Government affirmed its full commitment to move from the humanitarian aid stage to creation of strategic sustainable development partnerships based on the comprehensive development in cooperation with regional and international partners to support national economy.
The statement in reaction to the Bundestag decision on Wednesday to lift sanctions says the transitional government “looks forward to working with the German government to promote the development cooperation and economic partnership in many fields, top of which, energy, mining and infrastructure.”
The German parliament, in 1989 issued a decree suspending the development cooperation with Sudan due to the outbreak of the civil war.
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