Notes following South Africa – European Union Ministerial Troika Meeting Presidential Guesthouse, Union Buildings, Wednesday 10 October 2007

Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma
Well, first of all welcome to you all.

We are very pleased that we have had this meeting of the EU Troika and South Africa under our new Strategic Partnership Dialogue which we call the Mokubakuba Dialogue which is the Yellowwood Tree in English and this partnership is very important because the strategic partnership is opening up new areas of engagement in addition to what we have had in the TDCA.

At this meeting we were reviewing the TDCA. Some of you will remember that there was an provision that we would review the operation of the TDCA after five years. That process has taken place and completed. And the review report was given to us this afternoon and off course, the report outlined work in a number of areas, viz. trade, development, science and technology, and it also looked at areas that we are going to be establishing co-operation on customs, peace and security, transport, human rights, and we also had a discussion that focused on a number of critical areas like the strategy for EU and Africa and off course, the famous forthcoming EU-Africa Summit. We had very good exchanges on that.

We also discussed the question of the EU-SADC EPA negotiations. We exchanged views on that including the World Trade Organisation Doha Round. I am not providing many details because the principals will provide the details later.

We also discussed the question of climate change – this is a very important global issue and within the context of the forthcoming Bali meeting. There has been a lot of work done, there has been a dialogue between the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and the European Union earlier this month.

We also discussed issues around energy in its entirety viz. energy generation, energy efficiency, diversification, transfer of technology and other areas of co-operation including areas of looking at early warning mechanisms to avoid disasters in mining and so on.

It has been a very wide ranging series of discussions.

We also had the opportunity to share ideas on the reformation of the Bretton Woods Institutions.

We are really very happy to have hosted this meeting because we have always met in Brussels and this is the first opportunity we have had to share some African hospitality with our colleagues. We thank our African colleagues for accepting our invitation and coming to visit us in South Africa.

Minister Amado
Thank you Minister Dlamini Zuma.
Just to briefly complement what was said by Minister Dlamini Zuma and to also express our happiness that is shared also by the EU Commissioner Louis Michel to be with you here in South Africa today for the first time. I would like to stress the importance we have attached to this morning considering that South Africa has become a very important and relevant partner to the European Union.

Analysing the discussions we have had today we consider the value we added to our external relations implementing a strong partnership with South Africa.

I believe we need to upgrade this relationship in the future. South Africa has an important role and is playing an important role in a new and quite dynamic international system, multipolar with more demanding multilateral approach and having the European Union Strategic High Level Partnership today with the United States, Russia, China, Brazil, India, I believe that in Africa we need to have a special interlocutor around South Africa certainly considering the values, principles, the way we identify our co-operation.

I believe that we really need to strengthen this partnership. We have the possibility to review the way in which this partnership is evolving. In the end we assume the strengthening of our dialogue will go towards exchanging views of European and Africa issues.

But also, those issues which are today at the core of the global agenda demanding a more inter dependent and articulated action by all global players. I believe that this dialogue with South Africa can be reinforced in the future. I hope this dialogue will have continuity at a high level.

So thank you once again. I am very happy to today have the opportunity to listen to some of your colleagues in government. The richness of this meeting was also determined by the participation of some of your government colleagues.

Commission Louis Michel
It is of course very important to highlight that this is the first, as Minister Dlamini Zuma has already pointed out, time we are meeting in South Africa. This underlines the European Union’s desire to strengthen our relations and co-operation with South Africa as a Strategic Partner. In a certain sense it indicates we want to change the nature of the relationship to becoming really a true partnership, relationship between political partners. Today already, in our interactions, we felt that the nature was different, more frank and open. And we have tackled many global challenges which we have to both deal with. This is very important.

Also, if you permit me Madame, a few words on the Country Strategic Paper: we have signed a new seven year development co-operation programme between South Africa and the European Community.

To be honest, this new programme is not business as usual. For the first time, it is a seven year programme with the full span of the European Community’s financial perspective for the years 2007-2013. This demonstrates that the European Community’s commitment to South Africa at a time when several donors are questioning the need to continue co-operation with middle income countries such as yours.

The framework for this co-operation has been set in a joint programme, not only in the sense it has been jointly agreed to between South Africa and the EC. This has always been the case. But also, 11 EU member states have joined us in drafting a common country strategic paper. Europe, ie to say the community and its 27 member states, contribute nearly 27% of its ODA to South Africa. The three folds of ODA are based on a single common strategy.

The indicative programme which we have signed today sets aside an indicative amount of €980 million for the seven year period. This is approximately R10 billion. Furthermore, this programme is complemented by an additional €900 milllion in loans that will be provided, over the same period, by the European Investment Bank.

Thank you

Questions and answers

Question Minister Dlamini Zuma, Ambassador Sooklal said that if other EU leaders joined Gordon Brown in boycotting the Summit, the other African leaders will not attend what he called a “watered down” Summit. At which point would Africa decide it was not worthwhile to attend this Summit?

Well we did not do that calculation but nevertheless, we are optimists, so we approach this matter from that perspective of optimism. We are quite confident that a critical number of European leaders and a critical number of African leaders will attend the Summit. Therefore the Summit will be, in our view, a good Summit.

We understand that it is very rare, at least in Africa, I don’t remember in the 9 years in which I have held this portfolio of a Summit being attended by every Head of State. There are always some countries represented at other levels. So if that happens in Lisbon, it will be nothing unusual.

Even the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000, which was a attended by a huge number of Heads of State and Government, was not attended by ALL heads of State and Government.

So I think, we should not take one person who has said they might not attend this Summit and then infer that this one person will make this Summit successful. Summits depend on a number of people being there and not just one person. So, off course, we would have wanted Prime Minister Gordon and other European Heads of State and Government to attend the Summit but if there are a few of them who cannot attend, as there will be some African Heads of State and Government who cannot attend.

We are very optimistic that this Summit will go ahead and that there will be sufficient representation to ensure it will be worthwhile.

Question Minister Amado, what would be the breaker for you, as the host of the Summit? Is it conceivable that the Summit will not take place?

Answer (Minister Amado) I cannot take on board the Gordon Brown position and boycott the Summit. The Gordon Brown position has been around for a long time. As you know, this is on the agenda of the European Union for a long time. As you know, we have two European Union Commissions that will look at the strategic relationship between the African Union and the European Union, approved by all Heads of State and Government, at the Lisbon Summit. We only have the public statements of Prime Minister Brown in a way that he has expressed this point. If you remember the article he wrote expressing the importance of this Summit, the Strategic Importance of the engagement between Africa and Europe within a developmental paradigm. It mentions that if President Mugabe attends the Summit he would not attend it.

As you, Minister Dlamini Zuma has just said, we cannot envisage a Summit with 80 Heads of State and Government. We also remember that the British government was not represented at the 2000 Cairo Summit either. If you ask me if I would like to see Prime Minister Brown attend the Summit, then certainly, I would because it is a very important Summit as he himself as recognised.

We have for the first time a very substantial agenda clarifying the way in which we want to interact with Africa in future. We have a plan of action clearly identifying areas of co-operation and partnership. So we are approaching the Summit with optimism. We would like to have a different strategic, or at least a different atmosphere, in which to deal with the preparations for the Summit.

Reality is what we know and just to finalise, I would like to stress this point: we are on the eve of a new multi-polar world and we are trying to dynamise, this is also a strategic objective of the European Union, multilateralism all over the world and for the first time we have the possibility of a united summit between the European Union and Africa. The African Union has been in existence for 5 years; the European Union has been in existence for 15 years but we pursue the same goals and challenges – to promote peace, stability, economic and social development in our continents and we believe the European Union has this responsibility to diffuse , to promote political and economic integration in the regions of the world, so we need to place this summit at the multilateral level of relations between the African Union and the European Union. And to deal with problems we may have with Zimbabwe and other countries or regions in the world, we need to deal with bilaterally. That is the reason we have a common position in dealing with Zimbabwe for such a long time.

As Minister Dlamini Zuma stressed, to paralyse the relations between our both continents, because today you have problem with Zimbabwe, it would be a huge strategic mistake. This is our point, and this is why we are trying to deal bilateral with challenges and conflicts we have with countries with a view to developing a strong multilateral perspective between the European Union and Africa.

(Minister Dlamini Zuma) Just to say, we are very grateful and happy with the manner in which the Presidency of the European Union is dealing with this matter together with the Commission and other member states.

And maybe, just for the record, Prime Minister Blair did not attend the 2000 Cairo Summit either. And Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not attend the 62nd session o f the United Nations General Assembly either. So, I think we should look at this matter very positively and put it into perspective.

Question Commissioner Michel, on the matter of Darfur, do you think that the violence that is currently taking place is sponsored by the government and is an attempt to derail the meetings scheduled to take place in Libya at the end of the month? On the DRC, do you see the instability in eastern Congo as a failure of President Kabila?

Answer (Commissioner Michel) About Darfur first: We are waiting for a quick settlement of the matter of the deployment of the hybrid force. We will give the hybrid force a chance to bring stability. It is important to have security for the people. At the same time, it is important for the government of Sudan to implement peaceful solutions. Everybody has to take responsibility in Sudan and Darfur. As you know, Darfur is a great concern of the European Union. We have contributed a lot to the humanitarian situation. We have further means diplomatically to look at implementing the hybrid force. The European Union played a role in convincing President Bashir to accept the hybrid force. We have to continue to put pressure on the government of Sudan and indeed on ALL sides – not just the government. This is very important.

About the Democratic Republic of Congo: if you ask me if the military option is a good option that will resolve the problems posed by General Nkunda, I will say NO, I don’t believe in the military option in order to resolve the challenges in the eastern congo. We have to resolve the problem by dealing the root of the problem. Everybody knows this. There is frustration amongst some groups of the population. What is the problem? The problem is that General Nkunda becomes, in a certain sense, an icon to the people to feel this frustration.

The only solution is to have a political solution and to build on improving the security in the eastern Congo. There is no other solution.

I repeat, President Kabila has the legitimacy of being elected freely and democratically. Another point is that we also have to give time to the leadership of the Congo to resolve these challenges. We are wanting immediate solutions but this is a very difficult situation. The Congo is a very difficult country to lead. There is a lack of capacity of the State. Institutions have to be rebuilt. We have to help them achieve this. I know the people are very impatient but you cannot deliver as quickly as the people want. There are many challenges: eastern Congo, lack of State capacity – we have to help the Congo in order to find solutions.

Is the military option the correct one? In my opinion, it is NOT. I think that the only concrete solution is a diplomatic one.

(Minister Dlamini Zuma) Just to stress that President Kabila was only elected only a year ago after along period of problems in the DRC and I think he needs to be given time to try and sort out the challenges in his country. It does not mean that if there is an election today, all the problems of yesterday disappear. Time is required to sort these things out.

We should also remember that in this country, there were lots of problems that persisted after the elections. Some of your would remember that in 1995 on 25 December, there was a massacre in (inaudible) precisely because the problems to not merely disappear on the day of the elections. Time is required.

We can now see a big difference in South Africa between 1994 and now. So, I think the President should be assisted. He had inherited a lot of problems.

Question Commissioner Michel and Minister Mpahlwa, are you able to share with us discussions around the Doha Trade Talks? Commissioner Michel, are we likely to see movement on these talks before the Lisbon Summit?

Answer (Commissioner Michel) First of all, about Doha: I think that it would be very important and useful to conclude these talks and to have an agreement because in fact the world economy and the world policy needs movement especially with regard to the developing countries. So I think, at the moment, the economies are submitted to risks from the financial markets.

Doha is off course, a guarantee, against this risk in the financial markets and protectionism. I think that if all the big actors are conscious that it is their duty and that a solution is possible then we can get an agreement and we can succeed. So it is simple.

We are not far off from a solution – provided everybody can be flexible. We can emerge from the problem. I am very optimistic about this.

I am not sure you will have immediate progress. I cannot answer that question. For the moment it seems that progress is possible. The Summit is really a very important challenge as it can change the nature of the relationship between Africa and the European Union and it can change the influence of both continents in the world system. This is really very important.

I am not in charge of the Doha Round and I am not in charge of these negotiations. I am speaking on behalf of my colleague Peter Mandelsohn.

(Minister Mpahlwa) Perhaps the first point to make is that this meeting that we have just concluded was not a negotiating session. It was really a bilateral engagement between two strategic partners. And therefore it was an opportunity for us to share perspectives. I would like to approach this question from this angle.

I think this became an opportunity for us, and I think we agree on this, the process thus far has produced quite a lot that is on the table right now. This will be important for the global trading system.

That is in the interests of us, particularly as developing countries, to build on what is on the table to finding a solution. Off course it also became an opportunity for us to share our views on the agricultural stance that provides a basis for keeping the negotiations and track and the momentum going. We think, in our view, that the agricultural position sufficiently accommodates the position of the US and the EU and the particular concern that was raised. So indeed, we expressed the view ourselves that we do see the text as a basis for further engagement. We have not positioned ourselves to reject the text. There are some sharp issues that must be addressed if we are to move the process forward and I think we must ensure there are sufficient flexibilities to ensure that the agricultural text can accommodate the interest of the developing countries and the EU.

This was the spirit in which the discussions were held. While not negotiating we took the opportunity to raise the issues that were off importance to us. The EU was able to say that they think there is a possibility to reach an agreement by the end of the year but in order to achieve this result from our perspective, these are the things we need to attend to, viz. how do we respond to some of the concerns that have been there on the part of the BLNS countries in the period that the TDCA has been under implementation and how do we accommodate those issues as we now try to harmonise the TDCA through the review and the SADC-EPA negotiations must be conducted in a way that harmonises the relationship of the EU with our region while helping us to deepen regional integration. We also have to develop an approach to dealing with the issue of services if we are to achieve this outcome by December this year.

This was the spirit in which the discussions were held. Broadly, our discussions will guide our negotiations to focus on the matters we highlighted.

Question Minister Manuel, what amount of money that was announced today would go towards budgetary support? Can you tell us what percentage of our budget would this be and what projects would this be allocated to?

South Africa is far less dependent, than most other developing countries, on official development assistance. I think that the key issues for us are in deepening a partnership. And a fair amount of the resources will be mobilized by local and provincial government in support of programmes of poverty relief. This is a strong focus of the EU.

We are looking at issues of human resource development, the key to lifting people out of poverty is to develop skills. We spent a long time discussing the distribution of educated personnel and how we can improve on the maths and science literacy of educators and therefore of learners and consequently of the education system. So there are a fair amount of issues that will be dealt with in line function as we proceed but the total ODA as a percentage of budget is less than 1%, I think it is 0.84%

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

10 October 2007

Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 11 October, 2007 8:49 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