The European Union is closely following the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, the seventh round of which began at the end of November. The EU Special Representative for Sudan, Pekka Haavisto, has visited the talks twice during this round, and several member states are represented there. The EU welcomes the progress that has been made in the wealthsharing commission since the beginning of the round. But it is gravely concerned at the lack of progress on the other two tracks (power-sharing and security arrangements) in the first two and a half weeks. This appeared to be due to a lack of willingness of the negotiators of the SLM/A and JEM in particular genuinely to engage on these issues. It welcomes the resumption of dialogue between the parties in the power-sharing commission on 19 December, and hopes that this will be the start of real progress. It urges all the parties to show their commitment to peace in Darfur by negotiating positively and flexibly, with a view to reaching a rapid settlement. The EU reiterates its full support to the African Union-led mediation team and commends it for its tireless efforts in these talks.

The EU is also deeply concerned by the continuing violations of the ceasefire agreements in Darfur. It calls on all sides to stop such attacks immediately and to refrain from any action that might aggravate the situation in Darfur and in Chad. These continuing cease fire violations make progress in negotiations on security arrangements at Abuja, and in particular the signature of a new, enhanced cease fire, especially urgent.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Ref: 16058/1/05 REV 1 (Presse 371)