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Press conference by Slovenian President Dr. Janez Drnovšek

Ljubljana, 02/14/2006  |  statement

Dr. Janez Drnovšek: A very warm welcome to you, we have come together today with representatives of our humanitarian organisations in order to mark the beginning of the humanitarian campaign "The World for Darfur", which we have spent some time together preparing, and about which we have been keeping you up to date. I am delighted that our humanitarian organisations Karitas [Caritas], the Red Cross, Unicef and the Skupaj [Together] Foundation have signed an agreement on cooperation in this project, they have agreed on how to act, and I think we are well prepared. We are now counting on a response, on the support of Slovenian women and men and the support of our public, and also on a response of course through humanitarian donations for Darfur. The organisations themselves will give you a brief presentation of the action as it has been planned. Here with me also is Mr. Diraige, who is the leader of the Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance, that is, the Sudanese opposition alliance, which has great strength and standing. Mr. Diraige is also the former governor of Darfur, and is very familiar with the situation. He is also actively involved in seeking a solution. I had a very thorough discussion with him today on the situation in Darfur and on the possible way ahead, and he himself will also be able to say a few words to you about this. We have not arranged for translation from English, but you will probably be able to do this subsequently for your media. I would like to add that our efforts to arrange a meeting between the rebels and the government for as early as the end of this week have unfortunately not succeeded, or not yet, although all parties involved have already agreed to it. Ultimately the situation is clearly so complex – and given that there have also been some battles for prestige within international institutions – that we have had to postpone what would in other words be concluding negotiations. But we are continuing with our activities, and talking every day to the rebels and to the representatives of rebel groups. Yesterday we sent to them and to the government a supplemented proposal for a peace agreement. And we are trying – we have in the meantime been talking to Mr. Diraige – to bring some influence to bear so that the rebel groups might unite among themselves. Indeed this is another serious problem, which the other government side exploits to its advantage. Just yesterday afternoon Tomo Križnar informed us that there had been armed clashes between two factions of the rebel movement, and he also asked us to let the world media know what we have done, where one faction has captured one of the leaders of the other faction, with which Tomo Križnar is at this time.

In short, the situation in the field is quite tense, there have been casualties in these clashes, and there is clearly an urgent need for the rebel groups truly to unite among themselves in order to halt these internecine struggles over who will get more once Darfur is peaceful and autonomous. The fact is that it is still not peaceful, and people are still suffering and dying every day. So we are trying to send this kind of message, and we will continue with our efforts. Perhaps it will take a little longer, and perhaps we were over-optimistic about resolving this so quickly. But I think we will, and if nothing else we have succeeded somehow in shaking up the international community, which is now tackling the issue with more determination. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who met for this purpose with President Bush, is also being more active and is exerting even greater pressure. We anticipate that the Security Council will now take action and that there might ultimately be a more rapid decision, and – I hope – also more rapid subsequent establishment of some kind of security arrangement that will ensure security for all, of course for the inhabitants as well as humanitarian workers. So much by way of introduction. Now you would probably like to start with the humanitarian workers. Please go ahead.