Notes Following South Africa - Slovakia Joint Press Conference, Waterfront, Cape Town, 7 November 2007

Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma

I am very happy to welcome by counterpart from Slovakia, Foreign Minister Jan Kubis and his delegation to South Africa.  This follows our own visit to Bratislava earlier in the year.

The main purpose of his visit was to co-chair the United Nations workshop on Security Sector Reform (SSR) which is an issue that the Republic of Slovakia has taken on in the Security Council and we were happy to join them and we are also happy to know that they would like to continue working on this even when they are no longer on the Security Council because it is an important issue especially for us in Africa.  It is also very important for everyone in the world.  So we are very happy to have Minister Kubis and his delegation in South Africa.

Off course, as Foreign Ministers we are very conscious of time and resources so while Minister Kubis is here in South Africa, we have used the opportunity to look at our bilateral co-operation, to discuss some of the issues of common interest, both as members of the UN Security Council and also as members of the African Union and European Union.  We have had very good discussions about our own co-operation and followed up matters from our visit to Bratislava as well as looked at opportunities for economic and trade co-operation, regional issues of interest including the forthcoming European Union – Africa Summit.

So we have had a good discussion.

I will allow Minister Kubis to respond to you.

Minister Jan Kubis

Thank you Minister Dlamini Zuma.

I am very glad that I can be here in South Africa – this is our third meeting in five months.  It is reflective of an intense desire of the two sides to work together.

Perhaps the strong motivation is our joint membership of the United Nations Security Council.  However, this is not the only motivation although this may be the current one.

South Africa and Slovakia co-operate very strongly in the UN Security Council.  We have a lot of common points, interests and positions.  We occasionally differ on some issues but I have to say that we mostly work very closely together.  We manage to contribute to the results of the work of the UN Security Council. 

Our discussions in Blatislava or Cape Town focus largely on the issues of the UN Security Council.  We have started to our discussions and they will continue during the luncheon about an update on African issues and I will later brief Minister Dlamini Zuma about the position of my country of regional situations like Kosovo and Afghanistan.  My country is very much engaged in these situations.  This was one of the briefs we have touched upon.

We used the opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations and as I said, I am very glad we are witnessing a reinvigoration of our political contacts.  We have this intense dialogue at Foreign Ministerial level.  Minister Dlamini Zuma, during her visit to Bratislava agreed to have regular contact at the level of Foreign Ministers and officials.  We will have entrepreneurs accompanying the Minister of Trade and Development to Bratislava that is planned for December 2007 and we hope that will give a boost to our economic relations.  Foreign trade is moving ahead.  We would also like to look at areas of investment and working together in third countries.  We can use that potential. 

We talked also about cultural education exchange programmes.  We are preparing some visits that will cover this area.  We talked about the legal basis of our relations and this is one of the results of the visit today – I was happy to today sign with Minister Dlamini Zuma a visa agreement that will provide better ground for our officials to visit and work with each other.

Another feature that is working for increasingly intense relations between our two countries is the fact that Slovakia is a new member of Europe and an active member of the European Union and this means that we are dealing with issues that are not necessarily confined to our region or Europe.  We would like to see a more structured co-operation between the European Union and Africa with the African Union and bilaterally.  I am very happy to note a very successful meeting of the South Africa – European Union Ministerial Troika meeting that finalised the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and the European Union in South Africa in October 2007.

We are also facing a very momentous moment in our relations very soon – the European Union – Africa Summit in Lisbon at the end of 2007.  We discussed preparations and what would guide this new co-operation.  It will be a modern co-operation of two equal partners looking forward to and dealing with the challenges ahead of us, not only with current situations.

We therefore have many good reasons for this more intense relationship.

I have come to South Africa to jointly open with Minister Dlamini Zuma a workshop co-hosted by the two countries on Security Sector Reform.  This is indeed a topic that we as Slovakia have placed more firmly on the agenda of the United Nations but I am very glad that we very early and from the beginning of South Africa’s tenure on the Security Council worked on the topic together.  This is a very concrete result.  I am very glad the attendance and discussions thus far have been good, the opening session was excellent from my point of view.  We hope that through this workshop we will be able to bring this wealth of experience Africa has from different peacekeeping operations and notably from the SSR all the specific, unique experiences to bring to New York.  We are very happy that the United Nations is now more focused on this.  The Secretary-General will soon produce a report on SSR.  We hope that through this event we will be able to influence sections of the report. 

That is why I would like to close my remarks by presenting my gratitude to Minister Dlamini Zuma and the colleagues who have worked together with us on this topic.

Thank you

Questions and answers

Question Minister Dlamini Zuma, did you discuss the matter of the comprehensive reform of the United Nations?  Did you brief your colleague on developments within SADC and the African Union?

Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma) We did not discuss yet the question of the comprehensive reform of the Security Council at this particular meeting but off course, the Security Sector Reform is part of this reform.

In terms of the briefing, yes, I did brief my colleague on the important areas in SADC and in the broader African continent.  We spoke about the economic situation in SADC, Zimbabwe, the DRC, Sudan – we talked about a number of issues.

(Minister Kubis) I can confirm this.  This discussion on the UN reform is still ahead of us since we will continue our dialogue following this press conference.  We had a discussion on this matter when Minister Dlamini Zuma was in Bratislava earlier this year and we are in quite intensive dialogue this year particularly so if one topic is not covered during one session we will definitely have an opportunity to discuss it in another meeting.  We will within a month meet in Lisbon for the EU-Africa Summit 8-9 November 2007.

I can confirm we are definitely in agreement on the need for reform and it concerns all facets of the United Nations.  I can confirm Slovakia supports the work of the UN Secretary-General.  There are some new ideas viz. the reorganization of the work of the political agenda and the work of the DPA but this only the current point.

I would say we are very happy there is a re inforced, re-engaged discussion on the form of the Security Council.  We would like to see reform.  We are not able to have it at one go.  We as Slovakia are willing to consider testing some of the solutions and checking them in practice viz. different membership participation in the Security Council.  We are very happy that in 2006 for example during the election for the new Secretary-General of the UN, the SC showed more transparency, and in our view, the SC is showing more inclusiveness and we support this.  We also support a more activist approach of the Security Council.  At the same time, we fully respect the prerogatives and mandates of other different bodies – the General Assembly, ECOSOC, etc – because we feel they have their mandates and we should respect their prerogatives.  We would like to see all bodies working together.

 

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001
7 November 2007

 

 


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