Notes following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Tuesday 11 December 2007  

Outcomes of European Union – Africa Summit

As you are aware the 2 nd EU-Africa Summit was held in Lisbon, Portugal Saturday – Sunday 8-9 December 2007.

Both the Director-General and myself were part of the President’s delegation and we have just returned.  This was a very important summit and is reflected by the fact that almost all heads of state and government from Africa and Europe attended this Summit.  There had been some suggestion that European countries would boycott the Summit but I am happy to say that in the end, only two heads of state and government from Europe did not attend.  The level of participation was remarkably high.

This Summit, the 2 nd between Europe and Africa that has been delayed by almost seven years, was therefore very important because as you are aware, since the 2000 Cairo Summit it had not been possible to hold the second summit because of the participation on the African side by Zimbabwe.  The very fact that this 2 nd summit took place and was attended by all countries including Zimbabwe, indicates the maturity of the relationship that is developing between Europe and Africa.

We have always argued that it was absolutely incorrect for our partners to insist on who should be part of the African delegation and that any matter should be placed on the agenda for discussion and therefore the summit was a gathering of political heads of state and government, not merely ministers and was therefore an excellent opportunity to discuss any matter without fear that this would lead to the breakdown of the Summit.

I am surprised at the general response from the experts in South Africa – I saw an article in the New York Times reflecting this – much of the media basically arguing that nothing new has emerged and that there was a major crisis in the economic discussions especially on the issue of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). 

Let me quickly say that the very fact that there were discussions on the EPAs at that level – these had previously been at the level of Ministers – this was the first time that heads of state and government were able to really tackle this matter at the political level.

The view of the vast majority of African participants was that we needed to revisit the partnership with a view to ensuring that maximum benefits would be derived from the EPA process and the way to ensure that the end product would be of mutual benefit to all and entailed a holistic approach to development on the continent and the joint strategy indicated that there was a need for the EPA process to be supportive of Africa’s regional and continental integration agenda on the basis of the Abuja Treaty.  The current reality is that the EPA negotiations as reflected at the moment would create serious problems for the integration process in Africa and therefore we argued strongly from the African side that we must look at these negotiations thus far because they did not support the principles and objectives as encapsulated in the joint strategy document.  And it did not really take into account the varying levels of development amongst countries and there was a necessity to ensure that the co-operation with the EU through the EPAs did not undermine the overall regional integration efforts.  And therefore Africa argued that it was important to align the EPAs and the WTO processes and that the focus should be on the development of the ACP regions.

Indeed, this is in line with our broad strategic approach with the EU:  there must be a developmental approach to our new relationship and that we argued that the cut off date that the Commissioners of the European Union were proposing – 31 st December 2007 – was not realistic and that we should have more time to really continue the discussions to enable us to come to a consensus agreement on the way forward.

I will hasten to say that you are aware that the EPA agreements are a new element of the Cotonou Agreement that is coming to an end and there has been an argument by the EU that we need to synchronise with the WTO which does not allow for this sort of arrangement.

We as Africa argued very strongly that this was not the case and if the correct arguments were put forward we could get an extension beyond the cut off date of the 31 st December 2007.  I want to believe that at the end of the process which would involve lots of discussions from the side of Africa and the European side as well as from the Commision, there was an agreement that the Commissioner Mr Barossa would now initiate a series of discussions with the five African economic regions in order to see whether we could get consensus on the EPAs. 

So it is not a question of not finding each other, or a solution and that there was a breakdown – it is more important to see how Africa at a political level could collectively, despite the fact that some African countries have signed the interim agreement, could collectively put forward their view that we are not happy with the contents of, even the interim agreement, and that we should rather look at it in a way that would be in line with the strategic partnership and incorporate our vision of an EU – Africa relationship that would be of a different nature

On the issue of Zimbabwe newspapers are either saying there was a massive attack against Zimbabwe while others are arguing that Zimbabwe was not discussed and therefore Summit failed.

Let me quite categorically state, the Zimbabwean situation was openly discussed.  Four European countries raised the issue.  From the African side, many of the African Heads of State raised the issue of Zimbabwe.  In the end, what was significant, and President Mugabe in response to the four European countries made his own intervention to which EU Commission Solana responded on behalf of the EU, that all sides were able to put forward their positions – the European Union expressed their concerns about political and socio-economic developments and human rights in the country and the African countries strongly argued that we are dealing with this issue and President Mbeki, as the SADC appointed mediator, reported to the Summit about the progress being made in the Facilitation process and indeed, all of Europe was of the opinion that this is a matter that Africa is dealing with and that it should be dealt with by listening to what the Zimbabweans themselves want and what the African continent generally and SADC has initiated on this issue.

So, it was not a question of not discussing Zimbabwe or that the Zimbabwean issue was discussed in a way in which President Mugabe was castigated and there was no real dialogue on this matter.

I think it was the first time that, outside of very narrow frameworks, the two continents – Europe and Africa – were able to tackle the issue of Zimbabwe with each putting forward its perspective and indeed, let me say, even representatives from Europe who spoke on this issue supported the SADC initiative led by President Mbeki and all said that once the SADC processes succeed, Europe would be forthcoming with assistance to the recovery process.

So, on both of these controversial issues, I believe the discussions and the outcomes were misinterpreted in the media and by so-called experts.

It remains our view that the Lisbon Summit was a unique opportunity jointly – Africa and Europe – at the level of Heads of State and Government to address the major challenges the world faces today and this is very significant because it took place at a time when Europe is celebrating the 50 th anniversary of European integration and Africa was celebrating the 50 th anniversary of the beginning of independence.  So it was a very significant moment for Europe which has historical, cultural and other links with Africa.  It was a historic moment for us to sit together at the level of Heads of State and Government and map out the future relationship that would have to be different.  We were cognisant of the fact that since the last Summit in Cairo much has changed.

In Africa we now have the African Union with its economic instrument NEPAD; in Europe, the European Union has grown in membership and scope deepening its processes of integration and acquiring new responsibilities in the world. 

And there was a growing understanding between Europe and Africa that in this globalised world, where the benefits of globalisation are not equally distributed and all countries are not benefiting equally, and especially in Africa – in sub- Saharan Africa – where we are suffering the worst consequences of this globalisation, that we would have to understand that our inter-dependence meant that we would have to raise our levels of co-operation to new heights.  And therefore, the major issues that we were discussing at both the Ministerial and Heads of State and Government levels, was can our relationship continue to based on the traditional relationship of donor-recipient.  Can we continue to build a relationship that is genuine and mutually equal if we continue to have a situation where Europe only deals with Africa in terms of pity and humanitarian crisis?

Indeed, I think that through the programme of action and indeed through the Declaration, with a clear understanding that the greatest challenge that we in Africa face is poverty eradication and sustainable development, energy and climate change, and indeed from the European side also migration which has become quite a significant issue and terrorism and indeed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

What is significant is that on all these issues everybody began to understand that you could not begin to tackle any of these issues unless you deal with it holistically and unless you have a relationship between Africa and Europe that is fundamentally different that that we had even during the first Summit.  I believe this is recognition of the maturity and transformation in the Africa – Europe dialogue and opens up new paths of opportunities for collective action.

And indeed, it is precisely because of that that we could discuss many of the issues in a way that was not antagonistic – while we differed, we attempted to find common ground as I tried to show on Zimbabwe, the EPAs.  And so we do, I believe, emerge from this Conference with tremendous opportunities which will now follow on the EU-Africa Strategy of 2005 – as you know there was an EU-Africa Strategy of 2005 – but this could not be given real content until the Heads of State and Government of the two regions met and gave it full support.

So, we believe that in the coming period Africa and Europe relations will now be based on a totally new paradigm.  It will be based on an Africa – Europe consensus of values, common interest and common strategic objectives.  And it will strive to bridge the developmental divide between Europe and Africa through the strengthening of economic co-operation and the promotion of sustainable development in both continents, clear understanding that the prosperity and security of Europe cannot be maintained even when one considers the issue of migration and terrorism, unless the economic challenges on the African continent are seriously considered.

It is our view that the Joint Strategy that has been adopted will provide an overarching, long-term framework for Africa – Europe relations and indeed, what is significant, despite what the media is saying, short term action plans have been developed in all the priority areas that have been identified and we believe this will result in concrete and measurable outcomes in all the areas of partnership that have been identified.

I believe that this is the first time Europe and Africa has decided on almost all issues – bilateral, indeed it will now be Europe and Africa through the European Union and the African Union – and we will even try to co-ordinate our activities in international fora – the UN, the Human Rights Council, and all other fora.

So, we emerged from this Summit fully endorsing the need for a stronger, new Africa – Europe political partnership which includes strengthening institutional ties and addressing common challenges in particular: peace and security, migration, development and climate change.

The Europeans, this time, as a collective at Heads of State level committed themselves to doing everything possible to ensure that Africa does meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  And indeed, for the first time, at this level, we jointly committed ourselves to promote and sustain a system of effective multilateralism with strong representatives in legitimate institutions and the reform of the UN system and other key institutions.

Now, as you know, for a long time, many of us in Africa and indeed in the South, have been arguing that the weakening of the multilateral system was becoming the greatest threat to international peace and security.  This commitment by Europe and Africa to co-ordinate our efforts to strengthen the multilateral system, I believe it is the first time where two such powerful groupings within the UN can now co-operate to ensure that we do manage to get progress and strengthen a transformed UN including the Security Council and the Bretton Woods Institutions.

There are also, not only new commitments, but a commitment to address global challenges such as human rights including children’s rights and gender equality, most importantly the issue of fair trade which was constantly debated, the issue of migration, HIV and Aids, malaria, TB and other pandemics and as I said, climate change, increased co-operation on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, and knowledge based society issues such as the EU co-operating much more through expertise and financial resources in areas such as ICT, science, technology and innovation.

So it is our view that this is not business as usual because indeed a historic moment for us to move away from a traditional relationship between Africa and Europe which everybody accepts, and I think the fact that everybody accepts, the past relationship could not be sustained and that a real relationship was required characterised by equality and the pursuit of a common objective.

I think that is significant because what we in the South have been consistently saying is that if Europe, and indeed the developed world, does not give sufficient attention to the challenges of Africa its own prosperity and stability will be challenged and this is again what the traditional partners of Africa, at very high levels, can together proclaim that this is the direction in which we will be advancing.  We also agreed that unfortunately in the developed countries, and in this case Europe, there is a lot of stereotyping of what goes on (they argue that there is stereotyping in Africa of developments in Europe) – we strongly argued there was negative stereotyping in Europe of Africa and there is ignorance of the overwhelming positive developments on both continents and indeed we agreed that the new approach should recognise and fully support Africa’s efforts and leadership to create conducive conditions for sustainable socio-economic developments and the effective implementation of partner supported developmental programmes.

If you begin to appreciate that in the Europe team there were very new members who had recently joined the Union and until now there had been suggestions that they were not too interested in the African agenda because they had their own priorities.

I think that after this meeting there is a common voice from Europe that Africa if a priority for Europe and that we will now do everything possible to take this relationship to a higher level.

And so, what were our priorities:

Our first priority was Peace and Security and in this context to promote a safer world.

Our second major priority was governance and human rights

The third major priority was trade and regional integration.  I have already referred to the discussion on the EPAs and Africa’s demand that our relationship should be increasingly linking to building our economies, beneficiating our economies and indeed moving away from aid for just humanitarian purposes.  And this is significant because I think Europe understands that the demand for African resources is now unprecedented and that Africa contains some of the world’s most valuable resources that Europe and other countries like China and India require.  Therefore, our own relationship will have to take into consideration the increasingly relations Africa is building with China, India, with other countries of the South, initiatives such as IBSA and other initiatives that are being taken.  And I think Europe is quite cognisant of this fact that Africa contains much that is required for their own national security and interest. 

Indeed, our last priority was key development issues and this included the Millennium Development Goals and indeed the institutional architecture to implement what I am talking to.

So, it was not just talk for talks sake.

So let me just quickly give you a few examples of where this new partnership has to go.  It has now been agreed that the informal, non structured relationship would now be more structured and the partnerships would work under the political guidance and responsibility of the Africa – EU Ministerial Troika and where necessary, Ministers in sector-specific areas would be called in to create specific troikas and there is also an agreement to take the initial steps in the period 2008 – 2010 to establish and implement an institutional framework and that joint monitoring of progress within the framework of the joint EU-African taskforce.  All these structures have existed.  They are now being institutionalised.  And this means we will be dealing with Europe no longer as sub-regional groupings or individual countries, but as Europe and Africa represented by the European Union and the African Union.

And, I have seen suggestions that there has been no new money.  It is not just about money.  Indeed, Africa argued very strongly that we had not gone to this Conference nor would we go to future Conferences under the illusion that we are coming to beg for resources – we are coming to look at a new relationship that would ensure that even where there are pledges they are implemented but more significantly that the aid money would not be used to deal with humanitarian situations but will be used also in restructuring our economies to achieve our development agenda.

And, they have said that there are existing mechanisms in the European Union that will now be made available and more financial resources would come from institutions like the 10 th European Development Fund and its facilities and trust funds, the relevant EU budgetary instruments – the EU Neighbourhood Policy Instrument, Development Co-operation Instrument, and the Geographical and Thematic programmes.

So what we have now is a commitment from the European Union to create conditions where we can access more resources for other existing financial institutions of the EU that goes beyond the specific Africa funds.

And I believe this is opening up the possibility, at last of ensuring that we can attract the necessary resources to achieve the objectives that have been agreed to. 

So, we have agreed that the EU through this partnership will help us to operationalise the African peace and security infrastructure.  In this context with expertise and with financial resources.  And they will ensure, and as you know, we have always had problems when Africa has attempted to resolve its conflicts, we do not have the necessary resources the EU has now committed itself to ensuring that there will be predictable funding for African led peace support operations.

On democratic governance and human rights it was opportunity, I believe, for Africa to indicate that we do not need lectures on democracy and human rights.  It was objective and subjective conditions that made it difficult but we have ourselves initiated the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and we are happy that Summit agreed to support the APRM and indeed, especially after we have been reviewed, make available some resources so we can implement what the review has asked us to implement. 

They have also now committed themselves to not come in with new European-conceptualised human rights initiatives and charters but to support the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Human Rights and indeed we hope that we will take this further.

Let me then say, on the concrete plan of action: I think on peace and security which everybody accepts to be fundamental and Europe has already been a key partner with Africa in this regard we have now agreed that rather than being ad hoc, there will be systematic and regular dialogue on all issues related to peace and security at technical, senior officials and indeed at the political level. 

It has also been agreed that there will be regular consultations between the AU Peace and Security Council and the EU Political and Security Committee.  As you will recall, the EU Political and Security Committee is the main committee dealing with stability in Europe and indeed, internationally.

And indeed, it has now been agreed that there be formalised consultations for exchange and co-ordination at the highest political level and that obviously means at the level of Heads of State and Government and as I said, earlier on other levels of peace and security Europe has now agreed it will work very closely with Africa to co-ordinate efforts in the international fora on global issues of common concern and let me add this is not just to do with Africa but the Middle East, Iraq, the Iranian nuclear issue and indeed other issues that threatens peace and stability.

We will now set up consultations at Ambassadorial level in Addis Ababa, Brussels and New York.  Discussions have been taking place informally and bilaterally but consultations will now take place at organised levels in Addis Ababa, Brussels and New York.

We have now agreed that we will improve the sharing of analysis and reports on crisis and conflict situations, including what I believe is what we have been arguing for is to look at the root causes that the necessary security arrangements will be put in place for the exchange of what they refer to as sensitive information.

So, for the first time Europe has agreed that it will share with us, I believe, their intelligence reports, and other sensitive information so that in the area of peace and security we can try to sing from the same songsheet.

And we will send joint assessment missions to conflict and post-conflict areas and we will initiate joint actions where appropriate.

So this is no longer business as usual.  This relationship will now take on the dimensions of a structured one.  The AU Peace Fund is going to be used more aggressively and as I said, they have now committed themselves to using other funds to ensure that we can effectively carry out this co-operation in peace and stability initiatives.

They have also agreed in terms of priority 2 to help us operationalise the African peace and security architecture so, in the area where we have had some difficulty to get off the ground, Europe’s expertise and funding will help us establish the continental early warning system and facilitate co-operation between the AU and corresponding structures within the EU.

So this is no longer an informal exchange of information both at sensitive and non-sensitive levels but the structures have been identified.

The EU will assist Africa in every way to fastrack the operationalisation of the African Standby Force and they will support the regional brigades and increase their training and logistical support through the relevant EU and AU structures.

And now there has been an agreement that collectively, and not with individual countries, we will facilitate training courses, ensure an exchange of experts and information, joint seminars and initiatives at continental and sub-regional levels.

And indeed, I want to believe, we will organise as we have agreed more specific and regular co-ordination of meetings between Africa and the EU.

Again, the funding for this second priority has been identified and we will now try to ensure that this is no longer just a commitment but will be carried out.

The third priority area I mentioned – predictable funding for African led peace support operations, it has been agreed that we will establish a predictable and sustainable funding mechanism and we will work within the framework of Chapter VII of the UN Charter to provide sustainable, flexible and predictable financial support for peace keeping operations.

It is clear that through these processes that have gone a long way, the two continents highest political leaders have decided that on the peace and security these are the areas we are going to focus on and this is what we are going to concretely do.

On democratic governance and human rights, I am not sure why they were concerned that Africa is not capable of discussing this we were able to discuss this quite openly, raise issues of concern, our views on how we should strengthen democratic governance and human rights even in the developed countries and indeed, we came to a common understanding of various initiatives we need to undertake.

I cannot go into all of it but let me say, we will develop a platform for dialogue on all governance issues of mutual interest including political issues, human rights, children’s rights, gender equality, local governance and situations of fragility which refers to countries in difficulties as well as, indeed on South Africa’s insistence, the issue of the death penalty.  We believe our constitution demands this and therefore it must be part of our discussions.

Our institutionalisation of discussions of all our senior officials dealing with human rights dialogue assisted and working with the Africa – EU civil society will now be enhanced. 

We will then promote transparency in the management of natural resources and conduct a dialogue on relevant international initiatives such as the extractive industry.

So there are many areas, even on the good governance and human rights that we can discuss in a structured manner that does not appear to be confrontational and selective in identifying the areas of governance and human rights.

And again, let me repeat, that it is clear through our interactions in the last two years leading up to this Summit that Europe is clearly beginning to understand Africa’s commitment to good governance, human rights, fighting corruption, etc and are also beginning to understand there are two sides to the coin – if there is a susceptibility to corruption in African countries then what about the corruptive partners in the developed countries and therefore we will work together to deal with this issue and not see it from time to time in the UN Human Rights Council where selective issues are placed on the agenda and we seem to be at loggerheads.

And as I said, there is absolute commitment to support the APRM and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and this will be the framework within which we can increasingly, on an equal basis, discuss this contentious issue of human rights and governance.

As you know, the challenge of cultural goods – ie. goods taken from Africa during the slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism has been a contentious one and I believe that we have now reached an agreement where we can have an inventory in the area of cultural goods between Europe and Africa and we will exchange ideas on this matter as well as enhance our dialogue at UNESCO and indeed we will see how we can have Africa’s cultural goods returned to Africa.  So that too is an important development and again different funding institutions have been identified within especially the EU for us to deal with this matter.

I have already dealt with the trade regional integration infrastructure so I will not go into this again but I think we have made tremendous progress in that area.

It does not mean that we totally agreed with the Commission on the ACP processes but it does mean that they are now aware that there is a collective African view on the EPAs and therefore they will have to be conscious of how we progress in the coming period to ensure the post-Cotonou agreements with the ACP countries are mutually beneficial.

I have already mentioned that we have now taken concrete action on the MDGs and how to deal with some of these key priorities.  Again, identified actions and indeed the sources of the funding to achieve this.

And so, let me say that I believe this Summit, as I began by saying, was significant in that it took place.

There is a clear understanding that Climate Change is going to affect Africa most severely and unless there is an understanding that more needs to be done to assist Africa deal with this matter of climate change even Europe will not be spared the consequences.  I am very happy that the Bali discussions, the World Conference on Climate Change seems to be progressing well and I hope that these discussions in Lisbon have enhanced our own positions in Bali so that we could argue more strongly on this issue.

Let me end by saying that migration, off course, is a major challenge and that I am not saying that this is the reason the Summit was so important for Europe.  As I have tried to indicate, Europe has understood that its future is interlinked with that of Africa but even on the migration issue, a better understanding has been achieved by the leaders:  you cannot deal with this issue but policing and the tragedy of so many Africans dieing while trying to get to Europe is a sad state of affairs that we cannot continue to sustain and therefore we need a better approach to dealing with the migration issue and there was a clear understanding of the brain drain which must be more beneficial to both sides and there is a clear understanding that Europe’s visa policies must be re-evaluated so that this imposition of restrictions on Africans merely because it is assumed we would all be seeking asylum is not the only way to go about it.  But most importantly, a clear understanding that migration will not be stopped – legally or illegally (the main concern is the illegal migration because the legal migration concerns that of experts) unless you also put it into the basket of sustainable development issues and you also develop Africa in order to prevent Africans seeking a better life elsewhere.

It was significant that many African countries including South Africa could show from our experiences that it is an inevitable, logical conclusion that people who see better pastures will travel from great distances to get there.  Many African countries were able to show that we are all recipients of migrants – legally and undocumented – and I hope we have emerged with a better understanding that the migration issue is also a challenge we in Africa are confronted with.  We have a different approach on how we try to tackle this and you cannot deal with it merely on the basis of law and order.  A holistic approach is needed.

So let me conclude by saying, there are many other areas and I hope you will study the documents.  It was a historic meeting.  It is not often that leaders from Europe at a level at which they were represented can meet leaders of Africa – not individually, but as a collective and hear the collective African voice on many issues.  It was not as though we caucaused on those issues – it was a genuine feeling of Africans speaking as sovereign African states but we identified the same challenges while seeking a transformed relationship with Europe which I believe is in our mutually beneficial interest.  It is our considered view that we have made progress but in the end we have to continue to hold the partners to the agreements they have reached included the programmes of action, the institutional frameworks and indeed I believe we can together make a fundamental change to our challenges in Africa.

Thank you

Comments by Director-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba

I would like to make two points of emphasis:

The first one is to draw a bit of connection of why there was so much discussions on the EPAs in the context of this meeting when indeed the EPA negotiation process has been taking place separately.

I think one of the major achievements of the strategy document agreed upon were four important things that led, unavoidably, to this important discussion.

The first one was that the Strategy Document, as the Minister has said, expressed the developmental basis of the partnership for a variety of reasons.

The second thing was that, as expressed by the Minister, we need a new paradigm that informs the way Europe and Africa interact and off course, we all recognise we have made statements before but the key question is whether these commitments have been adhered to?

And finally, the fact that the Joint Strategy itself makes a very profound point that the regional integration of Africa is actually the logical basis for a developmentally sound pan-African architecture.

If you say all of these things, then you cannot meet in Lisbon and not have to confront a major issue which has arisen which is then in essence, the EPAs that are being signed, the interim arrangements, firstly clearly divided the continent.

Secondly, they were not on the face of it, and we would argue even substantively, not helping to continent harness these regional entities on the basis of which you would then have further unity in Africa.

And so in fact, the issue of discussions that became in a sense a very good point to begin to say here we are just about to adopt a document with very good sounding statements but our experience is already pointing to a direction of the EPAs which actually violates some of these key principals we are agreeing to especially around the issue of regional integration.

So I think this is what sharpened this discussion.  I thought I should just make this point to illustrate why this issue suddenly received such prominence.

The second point I thought I should make: there was a very striking input by one of the leaders who in acknowledging the significant progress that has been made in Africa, particularly over the last decade, pointed to the fact that off course, since we last met 7 years ago, there has been significant progress on the Continent in terms of peace and security, governance and human rights.

But a startling figure to me was, someone said that in 1996 there were 14 countries in conflict in Africa and in fact Africa accounted for 50% of deaths that were related to conflict situations.  And if you look at that in 1996 and at what is happening now, you are forced to recognise the significant progress that has been made.

Now, I think this is what tendered to therefore colour what the Deputy Minister is referring to in that even when we were faced with difficult issues, Zimbabwe, Darfur, I think there was clearly visible anxiety on the side of everybody, particularly the European leaders to ensure that in highlighting these areas that nothing must detract from this broader, more general observation that actually a lot of good work is going on.

I think this helped to offset the balance of the discussions and assisted in making the discussions very constructive and I think also, another very important point in this regard, there was a general acceptance that the direction in which the continent is moving is very clear, progressive change will be characterised by periods where you register good advances but that there will be temporary setbacks.

And I think the maturity of our relations is going to be based on how we deal and share experiences as well as ideas on how we handle these temporary setbacks.  And I think this is what made this discussion and the contentious issues like Zimbabwe which everybody anticipated to have the potential to disrupt the meeting, made the framing of the discussions be subordinate to this general perspective which was really beginning to set the basis for a more constructive dialogue.

Questions and answers

Question: Deputy Minister Pahad, the setbacks that the DG referred to: would you accept that President Mugabe returning to Zimbabwe and calling the German Chancellor a facist and a Nazi could be characterized as one of the setbacks?

Answer: (Deputy Minister Pahad) I have not seen the statement so I cannot comment on this but let me reiterate what I said earlier: it is incumbent upon major leaders in Africa and Europe, as well as America, etc that all issues should be discussed as part of dialogue – you have dialogue in order to prevent going to war.

And indeed, it is my view, as I tried to say, that in the Summit there was no restriction in terms of what anyone could raise – the Zimbabwean issue was raised, the Darfur issue was raised – on the side of Zimbabwean issue there was criticism from some countries regarding the human rights violations.  President Mugabe explained his country’s position.  And so both positions were put on the table to enable understanding.  The vast majority of speakers on Zimbabwe then supported the SADC mediation in general and specifically the Mbeki facilitation – including the Europeans.

All Africans who spoke were of the view that we as Africa who have been dealing with this matter should continue to do so.  It would not be necessary to begin taking measures that sets back the process that as has been reported, is already making substantial progress.

In the context of this, all Africans were asking for a more “finessed” approach to handling this matter – ie. if this matter is handled badly, the SADC initiative will be set back and all of Africa wants a solution. 

I have seen comments by some human rights groups who have expressed dissatisfaction that we have not taken a stronger condemnatory position.  The world of politics would be very easy if all that was required was condemnation.  What has to happen is that views have to be exchanged, discussions need to take place on what needs to happen to find a solution and we would respond to these human rights groups who have condemned the Summit to failure because we did not condemn Zimbabwe is to wait for the results.

There are reports that the facilitation is moving quite well – progress is being made on all major issues and that we would expect results.  Sooner rather than later, announcements will be made that at last the Zimbabweans, given the environmental framework, are helping themselves to find a Zimbabwean solution which can be the ONLY lasting solution. 

We can condemn till the cows come home – sanctions have now been imposed on the children of Zimbabwean leaders – we think this is collective punishment of a non-sensical nature – why would you punish students studying in the United States on the basis that their parents are in the Zimbabwean government – we do not think that collective punishment is helping the process.

Nor is the addition of another 30 names to the list – we do not think this is taking us, at this crucial stage, any further.

So that is the essence of the discussion.

People quite openly and I think this is good had these discussions.  No one had said you could not discuss Zimbabwe. 

Concerns were raised about Darfur.  It was up to President Bashir to again in front of the audience, indicate that although there are some problems, expressed his total commitment to implementing the decisions of the AU and endorsed by the UN Security Council on the hybrid force. 

And I think that the fact that leaders are hearing each other in that collective way – not making decisions on what our technicians report to us – is a healthy thing for politics because then leaders can begin to think over and above briefing notes from which they have to speak.  I believe this will create a better understanding of each other’s perspectives of any of the problem areas.

Question: You both spoke highly of the consensus achieved on the EPAs – what is the future of these EPAs seeing that some countries in Africa have signed and some have not.

Question: There has been criticism that South Africa is holding back on signing the EPAs because of our established relationship with the EU – what is your view?

Question: Peter Mandelsohn has criticized South Africa and Senegal as being wrong in suggesting the EPA negotiations had broken down.  Neither of these countries actually has anything to do with this process – Senegal is one of the least developed countries and the relationship with the EU remains basically unchanged while South Africa has the TDCA with the EU and therefore that relationship also remains unchanged.  Could you respond to this?

Answer: (Deputy Minister Pahad) The DG tried to highlight that in terms of the EPAs we would try to achieve a developmental approach so that is our over-riding objective.

Secondly, South Africa does not have to sign the EPA – we are involved only to assist the other countries in order that the negotiations proceed well – we are not signatories in that sense.

So, the argument that we have our relations with the EU and are therefore being more difficult – I think that concretely when you look at the facts, this is not true.

South Africa is strongly arguing that as it stands some elements of the EPA are contrary to the interests of regional integration.  It does not have a developmental focus and indeed, it is as the DG has said, dividing countries within regions and regions against regions.

Let me give you an example: if SACU members sign the interim agreements, what happens to SACU?  Because if you go into the details of the interim agreements, let alone the final agreements, it is laying the foundation to take us backwards in our integration process because we have committed ourselves to the strategic partnership to accelerate the processes of integration.  But, we cannot have integration for integration’s sake.  There must be a developmental agenda.

So, our view will be that those who criticise us for taking a position because of vested interests are not correct – indeed let me say the vast majority, even those who have initialled under weak position, when there was a collective approach all spoke of their concerns.

This is why we welcome the Commission’s announcement that it will initiate discussions with each of the five regions to look into the areas of concern expressed by African countries.  I think this is a positive step because until now it was a position that the deadline expires on 31 st December 2007 and we had to accept or reject – but there was no negotiation.

I have not seen the comments by Peter Mandelsohn but I think within the context of the discussions that took place, this is a tough discussion because the technicians and technocrats want quick results – up till now this has not gone to the political leadership.  We hope that now it is with the political leadership we can get a more favourable approach to the negotiations that are unfolding.

We do not have a specific South African interest because it would go against all our fundamental policy issues.

(Director General) Can I just say I think when we try to locate where South Africa sits on this matter it would be important to recall that in the process of the review of the TDCA in which South Africa is involved we took a conscious decision that the trade chapter of the TDCA will not be reviewed as part of the general review.  We would take the review of the trade chapter and align it with the ongoing discussions on the EPAs.

But we had the option as South Africa to continue on the trend of reviewing the trade chapter of the TDCA as part of a bilateral relationship with the EU.  We opted against this because we thought this would be part of our contribution to a better alignment with whatever modifications take place in the TDCA to the broader issue of the regional integration agenda.

In a sense, I was starting to, make a point and the EU is aware of this because we wrote to the EU as SADC countries to which we received a response a year later agreeing to our proposal.  So that is the first point.

So, indeed, the reason we were trying to do that was to ensure that in the formulation of the final EPA agreements and to the extent that this impacts on the trade chapter of the TDCA that there must be a bit of (inaudible).

It is true that come 1 January 2008 South Africa is not affected or compromised – we already have the TDCA that is on the table.

But I think it is a bit unreasonable to argue that when South Africa raises legitimate concerns within the context of those negotiations that we are necessarily trying to subvert those discussions because we have nothing to lose.

The second point is that why is that SADC countries were keen to have South Africa participate in the EPA negotiations firstly, as an observer and later as a full partner in the negotiations?

It has to do with the recognition that South Africa, for reasons related objectively to the structure of our own economy and the fact that we had engaged the EU in the TDCA over a number of years, had a better capacity to engage in these discussions.  Now, nobody is going to take this away.

If you look at the issues South Africa had concerns with: it is the extension of this holding or interim agreement – the extension of the very broad formulation on the area of services – now again because of the structure of our economy South Africa necessarily has to be more sensitive to this because we have a bigger services industry and therefore tot the extent that we are members of SACU we obviously, objectively, want to ensure that whatever is finally agreed to does not compromise SACU in the area of services precisely because South Africa is located within SACU and I think this is the one point.

The second issue is off course, the introduction of the most favoured nation status in the agreement which off course complicates the issue because the way in which it was formulated actually covers not just north-south relations South Africa may enter into but also South-South relations South Africa may enter into.

So, the appeal by South Africa was that some of these issues that raise all sorts of complexities could be moved out of this agreement and we could negotiate these later and that we should deal with the issues of trade and services at this stage.  So this is the first issue.

The second issue is the point that the Deputy Minister has just highlighted – it is one thing to say people have initialled the document but when those people themselves not incited by anybody, when they get the platform make statements that quite clearly reflect the fact that yes we have initialled this but they had their backs against a wall.  They have major reservations and such was the input, for example, by the Prime Minister of Lesotho. 

And so, I think the issue to deal with here, rather than finger pointing, is to acknowledge that there have been negotiations that have gone on, there are concerns from African countries even the ones who have initialled the interim agreements.

Secondly that, even in the context of the negotiations themselves, it is quite clear to us know, having listened to many of the discussions in Lisbon that there is going to be a lot of corrective measures that have to taken just to remove a bit of the atmosphere that may be unhealthy within the context of those agreements and a good example of this unhealthy atmosphere is this persistent, and this is not the first time that Peter Mandelsohn has said such things, allegations that South Africa must be part of these negotiations in a subdued manner and not voice concerns we have and whenever we raise these legitimate concerns, these are presented as though South Africa is a spoiler in the process which is a bit unfair.

Moving forward, I think it is important that the President of the Commission Barosso, on the last day tried to put what was a proposal by the Commission to take the process forward – I think it was good that the response from the African side was yes we appreciate this proposal, we need to look at it and indeed let us build on this initiative so that we can see whether what has been formulated gives the necessary assurances and confidences that these issues that are being raised are legitimate. 

And part of this last point is just to say, there is a major point that is being contested and I think that part of this clarification process will help us to understand that.

The Commission says that countries should sign these interim agreements.  There will be phase after January where the substantive issues will be further developed and discussed. 

There are concerns on the side of African countries – even those who have signed – is that this process is not as open as it seems otherwise there will be no pressure for people to sign.  The status of these interim agreements then also need to be reviewed.

There are two issues: on the commencement on discussions around the EPAs, all participants moved from the premise that EPAs would help support the incremental processes that were taking place towards regional integration – if you take our region for instance, we always knew that there was greater integration amongst the SACU members as opposed to the rest of the SADC countries and so the way that we were bringing other SADC members who were not part of SACU carried with it the possibility that we actually assist the process of greater integration between the SACU and other SADC member states.

I think that what is creating a bit of frustration is that things do not seem to be moving in that direction.  Instead we are now seeing not only a country like Tanzania that was initially in the southern part moving towards the east but also amongst the SACU countries we are beginning to have a bit of turbulence.

And what we are saying is that some of those problems cannot be ascribed solely to the EU but we are certainly saying that the EU could display a certain sensitivity in dealing with this if indeed, it also works on the basis that it is detrimental to the region and to sustainable economies in our region to cause further fragmentation.

Question Director-General was there any agreement on what was needed in Sudan to implement the AU and UN decisions for a Hybrid Force?

Answer I think there was no substantive meeting or discussion in the main meeting on the Darfur situation.

But off course, there was a bilateral meeting between President Mbeki and President el-Bashir and all I am glad to say is that strong commitment was expressed by the government of Sudan – they had a meeting with the UN – we got the impression that many of the issues were resolved within the context of that discussion and that further meetings, beginning today, will take place in Khartoum to further work on some areas that have been raised.

I am not sure that the definite outcome was on the matter of the helicopters.  The Deputy Secretary-General, in presenting her report in the plenary made reference to the fact that they were still struggling to get support in terms of the provision of helicopters.  We did get a hint there may be movement but I would like to hold back on committing myself to answering this.

 

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
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11 December 2007

 

 


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