Notes following press briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad on President Mbeki's visit to the EU and Great Lakes Summit in Tanzania, Media Centre, Union Buildings Monday, 15 November 2004

Introductory remarks and welcome by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad

President Mbeki's visit to Belgium, Strasbourg and the Netherlands

  • President Mbeki's visit to the EU will be aimed at consolidating bilateral relations and meeting with the European Union and new members of the EU Commission.
  • This visit is very important because the EU is South Africa's most important trading partner - in this regard, the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement (TDCA) has been finalised in the wake of the expansion of the EU from 10 - 25 members.
  • This expansion within the EU presents an opportunity to be used to get the EU to pay greater attention to the challenges facing Africa - ie. Poverty and underdevelopment
  • Europe also continues to be closely involved in Africa's conflict resolution programmes.
  • President Mbeki will also discuss economic bilateral relations between the EU and Africa.
  • 2005 will see the 60th anniversary of the formation of the United Nations - a special Summit will be hosted to assess, among others, the implementation of the Millenium Development Goals.
  • President Mbeki will meet with the President of the EU, Jose Barrosso - in this regard we are presented with an opportunity to discuss the redefinition of relations between the EU and South Africa.
  • The TDCA has now been ratified by all countries of the EU and came into effect on 1 May 2004.
  • President Mbeki will also meet with the President of the EU Parliament and parliamentary groups.
  • President Mbeki will also address the EU Parliament.
  • Parliamentarians are now in a fortunate position to ensure their executives act more decisively on matters.
  • We hope that our bilateral relations can be further consolidated through this visit.
  • Trade relations between the EU and South Africa are very good but reflect primarily trade in raw materials - we must begin to look at trade in value added products.
  • In addition, Foreign Direct Investment to South Africa and Africa must increase - European FDI = 44% of FDI received by Africa; Europe is also one of the top 10 investors in South Africa.
  • Chemicals, jewellery, steel, agro-processing products are new markets to be exploited.
  • With regard to tourism, Belgian tourists to SA in 2003 = 43000 which represented an 8% growth rate.

GREAT LAKES REGIONAL CONFERENCE

  • President Mbeki will also have substantial discussions with regard to the Great Lakes Summit to be hosted in Tanzania later this week. As you know, Belgium is a key player with regard to the situation in the Great Lakes region.
  • It must be worked out how to deal with substantial problems that continue to exist in the region. Experts continue to meet to discuss the integration into the defence force and training of the police, etc. The South Africa IEC is currently in the DRC to assist with regard to preparations for the elections. However, Burundi continues to be an area in which we are to be closely involved. We do however believe that matters are progressing very well - resources must be mobilised to ensure the processes can move forward quite nicely.

First International Summit on the Great Lakes Region

  • The first ever international meeting on the Great Lakes will be hosted in Tanzania - a Ministerial meeting (16-17 November) followed by a Summit of Heads of State and Government on 19-20 November.
  • These meetings will be attended by countries of the core group and Friends of the Great Lakes region of which South Africa is one.
  • There will be an attempt to consolidate the approach to the challenges in the region - South Africa has been a country at the forefront of matters beginning with the Sun City agreement. South Africa has a special responsibility to ensure that the situation in the region is resolved.
  • South African troops are still in Burundi, South Africa has volunteered to train police troops, etc.
  • President Mbeki will arrive in Tanzania on Thursday following his visit to Europe. We hope he will be able to brief the Summit regarding recent initiatives with regard to this situation.
  • We must work together with the international community in order to create the momentum for movement.

The DRC

  • Financial and other resources are required in order to address the situation in the DRC.
  • In this regard, the EU is very important.
  • Electoral legislation must be expedited - the UN is currently assisting in this regard but we hope that the DRC IEC can take over.
  • President Mbeki hopes to consolidate EU support for the African agenda. He hopes also to convince the EU Parliament that greater assistance is required in order to assist Africa achieve the Millenium Development Goals.

Questions and Answers

Question :(SAPA) Deputy Minister, is President Mbeki's visit to the EU an attempt to wave the flag after the US elections, the war in Iraq, etc - is it an attempt to show the US that Africa is still on the agenda?

Answer : No, this is not what is sought. In discussions with the EU, 2 issues will be high on the agenda - the implications of the US elections will be discussed in relation to: role of the UN as a key institution in order to assist Africa address African challenges (Kofi Annan's report on Threats, Challenges, is eagerly awaited.) We must discuss the implications of the revitalisation of the UN - without a strong, transformed UN, problems like Iraq cannot be dealt with. In this regard, we have received excellent news of the suspension of Iran's nuclear programme. In addition, President Arafat's death has made it clear that a new way forward with regard to the Middle East is very necessary. A common approach must be devised and consolidated.

Question : (Beeld) What are our biggest issues regarding the World Trade Organisation and the UN?

Answer : Until the Doha Round, international trade was determined by the stronger powers - the Doha Development Round put more sharply on the agenda that which is required by the developing countries all around the world.

In Cancun, the Committee of 21, in which South Africa was a role- player - helped pool resources of the developing countries with regard to agricultural subsidies, debt issues, non-tariff restrictions, etc - ie. issue driven changes.

In addition, we believe the United Nations Security Council is not transparent or representative enough - Africa is looking for two permanent seats on a restructured Security Council - the AU has established a committee of 10 countries to assist in determining the way forward with regard to African representation on the UN Security Council.

Question : (SABC) Deputy Minister, does President Obasanjo's decision to support United Nations Security Council sanctions mean that President Mbeki's initiatives have failed?

Answer : No, this is not what is meant at all - following Accra III, President Mbeki was invited to participate, outside of the ECOWAS initiative, in order to break the deadlock between all parties - this was President Mbeki's mandate and the premise on which South Africa will work. President Mbeki will report to President Obasanjo who will then discuss with the United Nations Secretary-General.

In the last few days we have met with leaders of the opposition, the President of Burkina Faso and will soon as possible meet with the leader of the rebels - following these discussions, we will make recommendations to the African Union (AU).

South Africa is not opposed to an arms embargo in the Ivory Coast - in this regard, sanctions come into force on 10 December 2004 - the Security Council can decide whether enough progress has been made by then or not before sanctions can be implemented.

President Mbeki is in constant touch with Presidents Chirac and Obasanjo and Chair of the AU Commission, Alpha Konare in order to push parties together to get a movement forward/end


Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs





 

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