Press Comments following Media Briefing between Deputy Prime Minister of the Italian Republic, Minister Massimo D' Alema and the South African Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Presidential Guest House, Pretoria 10 July 2007

Your Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Massimo D' Alema, welcome to the Press Conference. As it is traditional, we will ask Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to address us and thereafter she will invite the Deputy Prime Minister to address us, followed by questions.

Opening Remarks at the Press Briefing by Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Dr. Dlamini Zuma: Thank you Ronnie and good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the media. We are very happy to receive and to welcome Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister D' Alema and his delegation, including his business delegation and his Minister of Industry who are not here with us now.

We are happy to receive them because Italy and ourselves are very close in terms of our bilateral political relations. In fact we were struggling to think about what is it we can discuss in terms of our bilateral political relations, but we have recognised that we still have a lot of untapped potential in terms of economic co-operation and are very excited that they (Italians) were able to bring so many of their business people(138 business people) to meet with our business people to see what they can do to encourage this economic relations.

Italy is of course a very strong member of the European Union and the G8; we also have lots of co-operation and work at those levels because NEPAD - is a programme that we very much would like the G8 to support and we know that we have a good ally in Italy there and in the EU. At the moment we are also working together at the UN. We've always worked together on many areas. We are together in the United Nations Security Council which always helps when you have countries that you are close with politically. So at the multilateral fora we work together, it's a very exciting time for us. In April, I was received by the Foreign Minister in Italy; we've seen each other very close, it's an indication of what we really would like to see in terms of our relations.

Italy is also very keen to see the EU-Africa Summit and the strengthening of Africa-EU relations, and so is South Africa. Lastly, of course Italy will support us and is supporting us in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. When 2010 comes, Italy will be a very strong competitor for the World Cup and for the finals. We look forward to having them both as our guests but also as a strong team for 2010. Again, welcome Minister! The Minister, will give you all the details of what we discussed.
(Laughter!!)

Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister of the Italian Republic (also Foreign Minister), Mr. Massimo D' Alema

Thank you Minister Zuma for a warm welcome in our third meeting, the first was during the United Nations General Assembly in New York and in Rome (April 5th if I remember). Thank you, I hope that my visit will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral relations between Italy and South Africa with the aim to create an authentical strategic bilateral partnership.

I wish to underline the role exercised by South Africa both as a leader of the process of the African Renaissance and an important voice of the continent on the international level.

I also want to stress the importance of the mediation role played in the main areas of conflict and tension of the continent including contribution to peacekeeping operations. There is a strong convergence I want to underline on many regional and international issues as stated in the Memorandum of OU of 2003, Italy and SA share a mutual interest in further consolidating the structural dialogue at political and diplomatic level. Italy and the Republic of South Africa are members of the UNSC. The situation offers ideal context to strengthen such a dialogue in favour of Peaceful settlement of many critical areas of the African continent and not only in Africa, but we are facing together very important international issues; like Kosovo and Iran.

In this context, in the African context, Italy supports and encourages the strengthening of the co-operation between the AUPSC and the UNSC in the field of peacekeeping, stability and security. We held discussions on the crisis in Darfur, situations in Somalia and Zimbabwe.

South Africa represents an emerging power in economic terms. Italian entrepreneurs are convinced that the business partnership with South Africa is a real and attractive opportunity. I think that the presence of so many Italian entrepreneurs in our delegation is an important signal that they are confident in the future of South Africa.

The trend of our economic Bilateral Relations is very positive, but margins for steady progress still exist, taking into account the high economic levels of both countries; bilateral exchange and direct investment. The presence of Italian entrepreneurs is a good signal and my feeling is that yesterday and today, many discussions between Business to Business, I am sure after such discussions, we can have some important new contracts and joint ventures and common industrial projects. This is our philosophy, not only trade, but common projects and co-operation

2010 will be an opportunity of great international visibility for South Africa with a positive feedback on the national economy. Italy is ready to provide expertise in this field and well, we are also ready to participate with a goal to confirm the centrality of Italy. We are not a superpower, but on the soccer field, we are a superpower. (Laughter!!)

I'm sure that South Africa is ready to play an important part in the continent as an engine for African integration. SA is an important member of this core group. Finally, I want to thank South Africa for joining efforts with us to support the presentation of a resolution, promoting the suspension of the application of the death penalty worldwide. This will be a great progress for the fundamental cause of human rights - the right to life). We will sponsor this resolution. We want to thank you as well because South Africa also stands ready to support the candidacy of Milan for Expo 2015, which is for us very important and a new signal of the friendship between our two countries.

Mr. Mamoepa (thanked both principals for their contributions)

Questions and Answer Session

Q: Battle for abolition of the death penalty at the United Nations - Which other African countries might be galvanised to work towards this goal, if any? If SA can mobilize support to convince other African countries of this resolution (will be brought to work towards this goal of the abolition of the death -penalty worldwide).

A: DZ - We should first check which countries in Africa have abolished the death penalty to support, because that will be the core group that will be able to support and the second level will be those that still have it. The important group will be those who have already abolished the death penalty in their countries.

Q: You did discuss the issue of Zimbabwe amongst many different issues on the African continent? Could I ask both Ministers - are you concerned about the apparent economic meltdown in Zimbabwe and the fact that the Govt team did not pitch up for mediation as expected this week-end under South African mediation?

A: DZ- We are concerned about the situation generally in Zimbabwe, including the economic situation which has been deteriorating over time and it is in part for that very reason that SADC has decided that there must be some discussions and reconciliation; because it is very difficult to rebuilt an economy in a country where there is a very severe divide and polarization.

I am not quite informed about what happened over the week-end. As you know I only arrived from Belarus and I went straight into the Comoronian meeting; there must have been a good reason as to why they did not turn up. I will find out because they are committed to that mediation. I don't think it was any sign of them wanting to pull out or anything.

Clearly a problematic economy in Zimbabwe means that SADC as a region will feel the consequences of that and South Africa in particular; But we have to do all our best to revitalise or restart in a way - regenerate the economy there for the benefit of the Zimbabwean people and the region. Of course, Zimbabwe has been one of our biggest trading partners so it's very important in all fronts, that their economy is regenerated.

Q: Minister D' Alema, You said Italy is prepared to help RSA with the security for 2010 FIFA World Championship. Does that include the request by Minister Charles Nqakula who went to Italy to ask for help from the police ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup? Can you confirm that please?

A: D' Alema - We didn't talk about that, but we know that the South African Minister is coming to Italy, we are ready to welcome him, we have not yet received any request for carabeneiry (police), but we are ready to co-operate with South Africa for security during 2010 FIFA World Championship. We know that the Minister of Intelligence of South Africa is coming to Italy and we are ready to welcome him.

Q: Minister D' Alema - As a member of the UNSC how does Italy see the latest development in the Darfur and do you think will be the outcomes of all the efforts on the hybrid force; to Dr. Zuma, could you kindly brief us about the outcome of the visit to Belarus?

A: D' Alema:

  • On Darfur, we fully support the conclusion of the Paris Conference on the entire international community; on the global approach which means to take into consideration, the three different tracks of the crisis; political, economic and peacekeeping. On peacekeeping; we welcome Sudanese's government acceptance of the joint report of the deployment of the so-called a hybrid force as a fundamental step forward towards the resolution of the crisis.
  • We are convinced that what is very important is the political negotiations, which is the only possibility to reach a lasting sustainable solution to the crisis.
  • We are in favour that the international community confirms its support to the joint initiative by the Special Envoys of the AU, Salim and the UN (Elianson) recognising its centrality in dealing with regard to the humanitarian process.
  • As regards the humanitarian crisis, you are Aware that the French initiatives to support refugees in Chad have a proposal on addressing the Humanitarian crisis and Italy is supportive of this initiative. This approach reflects the pragmatic approach by SG - Ban Ki Moon which we support.

  • On our side we have to continue pursuing both parties and Sudanese government without introducing further sanctions today in the present condition because I think we have to prefer the political pressure, humanitarian initiative and international support to the crisis.

A: DZ - We didn't discuss Belarus, but if you have not exhausted questions on Belarus we could discuss that at the end.

Q: Minister D' Alema, you have said that SA is an engine for integration in Africa and we all know that, integration on the continent similar to the EU model Which other African countries do you see as engine of integration on the African continent.

A: D' Alema

  • It is not our task to indicate which country has to be a member of the core group. We are in favour of African integration as a prelude to peace and stability.

  • Without any doubt, South Africa is a leading country on the African continent, stable democracy, which plays an important role on the stabilization of the African continent. For the unity of the EU, the presence of a core group for unity of the Europe was very important.
  • The membership founders of the EU during its long history have always played a very important role. Personally, I do not think that the European experience has to be a model, but in our experience, the presence of an engine, a core group of State willing the unity of Europe was very important.

DZ - In addition, Dr. Dlamini Zuma said that - Even on the African continent we do need engines/ locomotives to drive the integration, some maybe obvious, others may not be that obvious, but they are essential to accelerate the process forward.

Q: With regard to the forthcoming EU-Africa Summit; would Italy encourage a country like Zimbabwe to attend such a Summit, given that you did touch on the question.

A: D' Alema

  • We are supporting the engagement of the Portuguese Presidency for the next EU-Africa Summit. Personally I find it incredible that last EU-Africa Summit was in 2000; which means that 7 years ago and finally we decide to promote a new Summit; we must overcome the Zimbabwe issue which was holding hostage the convening of the Summit.
  • We are confident that the initiative of President Mbeki could represent the key to opening possibility for the gradual revision of the positioning of the European Common position. But without any doubt, we must convene the Summit, the Portuguese Presidency is working towards that direction and I'm sure the Summit will be promoted.
  • We want to have a very concrete Summit with some concrete decision and adopting a common strategy to address the common challenges, development, fighting poverty, migration, security, fighting terrorism, we have so many common challenges and need to work together in the years ahead.

Q: Firstly congratulations on your Professorship Minister (given to Minister Dlamini Zuma in Belarus). Which other African countries have abolished the death penalty and Minister can you also please give us a preview of your visit to Russia and India next week?

Q: Iranian nuclear issue and your comments by Mohamed El Baradei, DG of IAEA, when he said that Iran had been slowing down its enrichment activities in the past few weeks and that a high delegation of IAEA is visiting Iran tomorrow?

A: DZ

  • I will have to do research on which African countries have so far abolished the death penalty, I cannot give you a list right now; and on our visit to India and Russia, as you know we have this IBSA initiative Forum where we are trying to work together as countries of the South on certain economic and political aspects.
  • This is a Ministerial Summit of IBSA that will be preparing for the Summit which will take place in RSA later in the year at the end of the year, In Russia we have a joint Commission -ITECH that meets annually and half way through the year we have an Intersessional meeting, am just going there with a small delegation looking at what progress and obstacles we are encountering so that we do not have to wait for at the end of the year.
  • In Belarus, I was with the Minister of Minerals and Energy (Buyelwa Sonjica) and the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry (Rob Davies) and to look at some of our complementarities in our economy, Belarus has some special niches in their technology, which would be useful for us. They are one of the few countries which have been able to cut down on their demand for energy, by 17% and now want to cut it down to 25%.
  • They do not have oil, but have some technologies for renewable forms of energy. Those are some of the industries that we were looking at just to mention a few to see what kind of co-operation we could look at. They have special technologies in renewable energy, trade and investment.
  • They are amongst the four biggest manufacturers of trucks and their prices are quite competitive and we explored what kind of co-operation we could embark upon.


A: D' Alema

  • On Iran; News on the slowing down of its nuclear enrichment activities by Iran are good news. Italy is against the nuclear bomb for Iran. But at the same time, since the beginning of the crisis, we are in favour of a negotiated solution. A package for a negotiated solution, we are concerned about the possibility to have further sanctions, because in my opinion you risk being in a war scenario in a few years. Either accept a nuclear bomb in Iran a possibility or to have war. We consider such an alternative totally unacceptable.
  • The signal that the authorities seem to be ready to open opportunity for negotiations is very important, to set up a stringent monitoring mechanism is more important than suspending uranium enrichment.
  • had an opportunity to speak to Mohamed El-Baradei. My personal opinion is that We proposed during the last G8 Summit that we should open negotiations with Iran without any pre-conditions because the only consequence of sanctions is, we support the sanctions because we are a member of the UNSC and the UN.
  • Without any doubt, the fact that Iran did not respect the UNSC Resolution, made it inevitable to have sanctions; my opinion is that we should engage Iran in a negotiated settlement. But at the Same time support the Iranian, with the goal to speak to Iranian public opinion and Iranian people against nuclear bomb but at the same time support the programme for the civil use of nuclear power which is different, I think that the initiative has to keep any opportunity open to engage Iran in a negotiated settlement we will see in the next days what this signal of slowing uranium enrichment means.

Minister Dlamini Zuma

Maybe just to add, we also support the view that there should be no nuclear bomb in Iran, but that we also do not want war waged against Iran. We are encouraged by the EU initiative of Mr. Solana's diplomacy, we would like to (as always) see any misunderstanding and conflict resolved peacefully.

I thank you!

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
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11 July 2007


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