Joint Communiqué: Annual Political Consultations between South Africa and Spain, Tshwane, 5 July 2006

Mr. Bernadino Leon Gross, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Spain, paid an official visit to South Africa on 5 July 2006 at the invitation of Mr. Aziz Pahad, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa.

Mr. Leon and Mr. Pahad co-chaired the Plenary session of the third Annual Political Consultations between South Africa and Spain. The plenary followed sector meetings held on 4-5 July 2006 that were convened to continue the discussions on different areas and programmes for bilateral co-operation.

The delegations comprised senior officials representing the following Ministries: Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Health, Provincial and Local Government, Arts and Culture, Defence, Home Affairs and National Treasury.

The principals expressed their satisfaction that relations between our respective countries and people continue to grow and strengthen in all areas.

Both sides acknowledged that these meetings had contributed to an encouraging convergence of views and closer co-operation on foreign policy issues, and to an increasing number of official visits enhancing political and economic ties.

Since the first consultations meeting in February 2004 both countries have held different high level meetings. For example, President Mbeki and Prime Minister Zapatero met at the Progressive Governance Summit in Hungary in 2004, the Director-Generals met in Madrid during February 2006, and the Spanish Secretary General for Co-operation visited South Africa during June 2006.

The discussions were continued over an official working lunch hosted by Deputy Minister Pahad during which the various sector groups reported on the outcome of their deliberations.

The following are the results of the discussions of the various sectors:

Political Relations

Bilateral The parties confirmed that relations remained excellent. It was further acknowledged that relations could benefit from further high-level visits and an expansion of the economic sector. Spain reconfirmed the invitation to HE President Mbeki to pay a visit to Spain during 2007.

The delegations exchanged points of view on the outcome of the recent visit of the Spanish Secretary General for Co-operation and Director of the Spanish Agency for International co-operation that has opened new ways of bilateral co-operation in the fields of health, local government, social development, and trilateral co-operation.
The Spanish side informed of the preparations of the Spanish language training programme for South African tourist guides to be launched in August, with a total duration of 3 years (2006-2009). The programme is embedded in the South African efforts towards the successful organisation of the 2010 World Cup.

The two sides welcomed the participation of several new sectors to the political consultations as a further evidence of the expansion of relations and bilateral co-operation.

Africa

The parties recommitted to the ideals of creating a better world and in this regard, to redouble efforts to end the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment. The parties acknowledged that Africa represents the most urgent and critical challenge facing the global community.

The parties exchanged views and positions on different issues of the African Agenda. South Africa briefed Spain on the outcome of the recent AU Summit, as well as progress on NEPAD.

Spain reiterated its support to both the AU and NEPAD. The Spanish Government will continue to assess new avenues for co-operation with Africa in an effort to deepen integration.

Deputy Minister Pahad provided an assessment of current developments and the role of South Africa on the peace processes in the Cote d'Ivoire, DRC, the Great Lakes and Sudan.

Secretary of State Leon briefed South Africa on their current diplomatic efforts to resolve the impasse in the Western Sahara. The parties agreed to work together to support the UN multilateral efforts, including all relevant UNSC resolutions, to find a peaceful and lasting resolution to the conflict.

The Spanish Delegation briefed South Africa on the new Africa Plan of the Spanish Government. The plan sets the Spanish relations with Sub Saharan Africa in a new, deeper and more global framework, setting seven lines of action. It focuses on contributing to the consolidation of democracy, peace and security as part of the effort to address issues of poverty and underdevelopment, and as a measure to improve co-operation to regulate migratory flows.

Secretary of State Leon informed Deputy Minister Pahad that the Plan considers South Africa as a priority country, and especially praises its role as an actor on conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. In this context, Mr. Leon also noted that the Plan shares many of its objectives with South African priorities, and therefore, a permanent co-operation between both countries would be an important instrument for the attainment of the African Agenda.

The Spanish side also briefed the South African side on the preparation for the Euro-Africa Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development to be held in Rabat on 10 - 11 July, as well as on the Spanish support to the Pan African - EU Ministerial Conference on Migration.

The principals agreed to continue regular exchanges of information on the African Agenda and the respective roles that each could play in enhancing EU-Africa relations.

It was also agreed that co-operation on African issues should be expanded. In this regard, the parties discussed the following trilateral co-operation projects:

Trilateral Co-operation

  • Sudan and The DRC

The two parties reflected on the numerous challenges facing the government and peoples of Sudan and the DRC, and committed to collaborate in responding to these challenges. South Africa tabled several project proposals for co-operation, which the parties discussed. The Spanish have indicated their eagerness to collaborate with South Africa in establishing this co-operation in the proposals. Further discussions and consultations will continue between capitals.

  • Health

Noting that both parties were already active in, inter alia, the DRC, Mozambique and Angola, especially in respect of maternal and child health issues, it was agreed that the two parties would study the possibility to collaborate in their health programmes in those countries.

Multilateral

Spain and South Africa stressed the importance of effective multilateralism and the indispensable role of the United Nations in solving global problems. The parties emphasised that the United Nations should be strengthened through reform to enable it to better deliver on its mandates. They agreed that reform should also lead to the democratisation of the key institutions of the United Nations in order to allow the participation of more countries in decision-making.

The parties also acknowledged the need for closer co-operation in dealing with the pressing international concerns of conflict resolution, peacebuilding, human rights, sustainable development and the elimination of poverty.

The Spanish side briefed the South African side on the evolution of the Alliance of Civilisations Initiative, launched by the President of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and endorsed by the UNSG. DM Pahad reiterated the South African commitment with the initiative that South Africa had formally joined through its Permanent Mission in New York. The parties recognised that South Africa could play an important role in the implementation of the future Plan of Action that aims to bring different cultures and societies closer. Both sides praised the role that Archbishop Desmond Tutu is playing as member of the High Level Panel that is tasked with drafting the Plan of Action.

Both parties exchanged views on the evolution of relations between South Africa and the EU, currently under discussion. South Africa and Spain welcomed all efforts to increase the level of dialogue and co-operation between both sides, especially committing to work towards the 2nd EU - Africa Summit in Lisbon, ideally under the Portuguese Presidency of the EU in 2007.

Middle-East

Deputy Minister Pahad and Secretary of State Leon exchanged views on issues regarding the Middle East. The parties exchanged views on their assessment of the current challenges of the Iran nuclear programme. In this regard, the parties agreed that the preferred option would be for the matter to be addressed through the mandated body, the IAEA. In this context both parties commended the efforts of the G3 + 3 and the High Representative, Mr. Solana. They also called for further negotiations and a continuation of diplomatic efforts.

The parties also reflected on the escalation of violence in the Palestinian occupied territories. Both sides reiterated their support for all efforts to attain a just, global and lasting peace based on a two State solution.

Economic Co-operation

The two sides acknowledged a new increase in the bilateral trade, which had increased by approximately 25% in 2005. This was in addition to significant increases in 2004 and 2003.

The parties agreed on the need to take advantage of new opportunities arising in the South African market, especially against the background of the coming 2010 World Cup.

Both sides recognised the need to increase the promotional activities, and to this end the Spanish side informed of the preparations for the High Level Business Forum to be held in South Africa on 25 and 26 September, organised by the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism and Trade. The Forum will bring together some of the top ranking businessmen of both countries to exchange experiences and explore new opportunities.

South Africa briefed the Spanish delegation on the current BEE regulation, as well as the ASGISA and JIPSA initiatives.

Both parties acknowledged the importance for the signing of the Agreement on Non- Double Taxation between the South African Minister of Finance, Mr. Trevor Manuel and the Spanish Secretary of State for Finance, Mr. Carlos Ocaña y Perez on 23 June 2006 in Madrid.

Defence Co-operation.

The parties discussed the finalisation of the South Africa - Spain Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Co-operation, as well as new instruments for regulating defence-related industry co-operation.

The South African delegation briefed their Spanish counterparts on the structure and reform of the South African National Defence Force, as well as on their efforts for peace keeping in Africa, with special attention on the DRC. The Spanish delegation informed about the current presence of Spanish soldiers in the EU contingent for support to the electoral process in the DRC.

Future bilateral activities to take place include the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and other instruments, the establishment of a Defence Committee, exchange visits and collaboration in projects with defence-related industry. Both parties expressed their satisfaction concerning the results and looked forward to closer co-operation in the future.

Home Affairs.

The parties discussed issues of illegal immigration and exchanged information on the sharing of experiences and best practices. The meeting held at the Home Affairs Lindela Deportation Centre gave the Spanish delegation an overview of the facility and its operations. The parties discussed challenges experienced with illegal immigration and the exploitation of systems by undocumented migrants.

The forthcoming Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development, due to be held in Rabat on 10-11 July 2006, was noted by both parties. The importance of dialogue between Europe and Africa on migration and immigration was acknowledged and both countries agreed to engage on this and other related maters.

The parties also shared their respective process with regard to integrated border control, nationally and within their regions. The parties agreed to exchange information on training requirements for official identity documentation.

Cultural co-operation

The Parties highlighted their enthusiasm on the Programme of Cooperation, to be signed before the end of 2006. On the basis of the draft Programme of Co-operation on Education and Culture presented by the Spanish side on the bilateral consultations 2005 held in Madrid, the South African Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) agreed to forward a new proposal on this Programme.

Areas of implementation that are of special interest were identified including:

  • archives, with specific emphasis on training in restoration,
  • conservation of manuscripts, and
  • record keeping and management of electronic records.

Both parties agreed to facilitate the visit of experts in archives from one country to the other, as foreseen in the 2005 Joint Communiqué.

The Spanish delegation asked for a better diffusion of scholarships offered by the Spanish Ministry of foreign Affairs and Co-operation and the Ministry of Education and Science, so more and more South Africans can take advantage of these programmes.

Spain would like to have an exchange of views during the next meeting pertaining to multilateral issues as they are aware that South Africa is in the forefront in the continent. Cultural diversity and the world Heritage Fund for Africa were identified as areas for possible exchange of views and opinions. DAC shared views on multilaterals and how they involved in the Declaration of the UNESCO Convention. Relevant documentation of the Conference of Cultural Diversity to be held in South Africa in September 2006 will be forwarded to the Spanish.

DAC informed Spain about the implementation of cultural co-operation programmes in the third African countries, using Arts and Culture as a conflict resolution tool. Spain took interest in knowing about this issue.

Health

It was agreed that South Africa would henceforth participate in the advanced Seminars organised by Spain under its VITA Programme for Africa wherein intense training is provided in the areas of reproductive health, communicable diseases (including HIV/AIDS), children's health issues and maternal health.

Having noted that several regional Governments of Spain provide financial assistance on health and related issues, it was also agreed that South Africa would identify regional/provincial health institutions and non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) that could apply for financing from various regional Governments of Spain.

In order to further solidify bilateral co-operation, it was agreed that both parties would work to create links and working relationships between the numerous health institutions of both countries.

Tourism

Having noted that Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) had several project proposals in respect of bilateral co-operation, it was agreed that DEAT would forward a consolidated project to the Spanish development co-operation authorities in regard to the following:

  • language training programme for 2010 and beyond;
  • sharing of best practices in terms of tourism management; and
  • tourism satellite account - systematic measurement of tourism's contribution to South Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Local Government

Having noted that the local Government system of South Africa faced challenges in respect of, inter alia:

  • scarce skills in numerous technical areas, particularly in rural and poor municipalities;
  • institution building
  • financial accountability; and
  • service delivery systems

It was agreed that the two parties would engage in intense bilateral discussions so as to identify a proposal in one priority area for South African local government to be supported by the Spanish co-operation.

National Treasury

It was agreed that a team of experts led by the National Treasury would undertake a follow-up to Spain wherein they would engage in in-depth discussions with several Spanish counterparts in respect of:

  • how Spain successfully dealt underdevelopment in rural areas, and
  • how Spain's SMME (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise) programmes successfully managed to create jobs and foster local economic development in under-resourced regions.

Science and Technology

The two parties signed the bilateral Agreement on Co-operation on Science and Technology in Madrid in December 2005. The two parties then agreed on posting the Call for Proposals for the joint projects.

In South Africa the Call for Proposals closed at the end of May 2006 and the National Research Foundation is currently reviewing the projects proposals that were submitted.

Other issues in respect of bilateral co-operation will be further discussed during the 3rd Joint Committee on Science and Technology that is scheduled to take place during October this year in Tshwane.

Conclusion

The Principals expressed confidence in the growth of relations and collaboration between South Africa and Spain. This co-operation should serve also to address issues affecting the international community.

Both Deputy Ministers reconfirmed the usefulness of the Annual Consultations Meeting as a mechanism for dialogue and co-operation. They agreed to convene the next Consultations in Spain in 2007.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

5 July 2006


Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 6 July, 2006 9:53 AM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa