Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said, “We congratulate South Sudan on becoming the world’s newest state. Norway has been an active player in the peace process in Sudan, and we will continue our engagement with both South Sudan and Sudan.”
HRH Crown Prince Haakon is heading the Norwegian delegation that has travelled to the capital Juba for the celebrations today. The members of the delegation include Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim, and members of the Storting (Parliament) Dagfinn Høybråten (Christian Democratic Party), Sverre Myrli (Labour Party) and Peter N. Myhre (Progress Party).
Mr Solheim commented, “This is a great day for the South Sudanese people. South Sudan has now gained independence, after decades of civil war.”
Norway’s gift to the new nation is a national archive. “This is an important contribution to building a common identity and history for the new state,” Mr Solheim pointed out.
Former Norwegian Development Minister Hilde Frafjord Johnson was recently appointed UN Special Representative in South Sudan. She played a key role in the process leading up to the peace agreement in 2005.
“The UN has an important role to play in South Sudan. We are particularly pleased that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Hilde Frafjord Johnson as his envoy to South Sudan,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre.
Today Norway recognises South Sudan as an independent state. HRH the Crown Prince and Mr Solheim will have a meeting with the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, today. During this meeting, it will be made clear that South Sudan and Norway will formally establish diplomatic relations. Norway’s Consulate General in Juba will be upgraded to an Embassy.
“9 July is a day of celebration for South Sudan. But we must not forget the challenges the new state faces. Only 27 percent of the adult population can read and write. The economy is completely dependent on oil revenues. Norway promises that we will continue our support to the South Sudanese people,” said Mr Solheim.
The division of Africa’s largest country follows a referendum where 98.8 percent voted for independence. The referendum was a key element of the peace agreement of 2005.
“Norwegian NGOs deserve much of the credit for our good reputation in South Sudan, particularly Norwegian Church Aid and Norwegian People’s Aid,” said Mr Solheim.
Norway’s total aid to Sudan in 2010 amounted to nearly NOK 700 million. These funds are channelled through the UN and NGOs.