Notes on Conclusion of Minister Dlamini Zuma’s Discussions with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn, Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria, Monday 3 November 2008

Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media.  We are very happy to welcome the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn.

We have had very longstanding good relations with Luxembourg and I have been there a number of times so it is indeed a great pleasure for us to welcome the Minister and off course, we would like to express our appreciation to the Ambassador of Netherlands because he does look after our common interests in the absence of the Duchy of Luxembourg in South Africa. 

We started discussing a lot of issues, both on our bilateral relations, the economic and political domestic situations of South Africa and Europe, issues around Africa, the integration of Europe and Africa.   Off course we have also discussed the problematic areas of Zimbabwe, the DRC, and Darfur as well as Sudan generally.  We are going to continue our discussions over lunch but we thought we should not keep you waiting.

We have also discussed the co-operation between the European Union and the African Union – both at a political, economic and other levels.  We have really had very fruitful discussions but I will give my colleague an opportunity to brief you in more detail.

Welcome once more Deputy Prime Minister to you and your delegation.

Thank you.

Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn

Thank you once more Madame Dlamini Zuma.  I am very very happy to be here with our delegation and with the Dutch Ambassador who is our protector in this country.

For me, on the bilateral issues we have two major interests together – firstly our air company Cargo Lux comes to Johannesburg four times a week and we would like to increase this frequency and then we have the second company, (unintelligible) the headquarters of which is in Luxembourg.  They told me Madame Dlamini Zuma before I came here that they want to remain in your country and they want to increase the production and presence in your country.  That is a very clear message that I received from Luxembourg.  We would be very grateful for your assistance.

You are also aware that there is a global financial crisis.  In Luxembourg we are an important centre of banking – we rank number 7 globally.  We are therefore affected but we try to have (unintelligible) banks and now we are doing everything we can to survive and to rebuild the confidence of consumers in the economy.  That is the task of the European Union.  The Stock Exchange is also very important for some people in the world.

Luxembourg’s is one of 6 or 7 countries in the world that contributes 0.91% of its GDP to overseas development co-operation.  We want to continue this.  This will be discussed in all countries of the European Union but we as Luxembourg want to maintain this co-operation aid to developing countries.

South Africa is a wonderful country – I have seen Johannesburg and Pretoria.  I will leave for Cape Town this evening.  As in all countries, there are levels of poverty and Luxembourg wants to assist you to deal with this.

For us in the European Union and Luxembourg South Africa is a very very important and key player on the continent and we know that not too far away from here is the very ugly situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo where more than 100 000 have been affected and displaced.  What happens in the next days will be important.  We know that South Africa can play a role in this conflict, as it is doing in Zimbabwe.  We are confident that President Mbeki, as the mediator, can assist in solving the crisis there.

Thank you.

Questions and answers

Question To both Foreign Ministers, was there a suggestion that countries of the world should persuade the UN Security Council to upgrade the mandate of MONUC to a Chapter VIII mandate?  Was this discussed?  Or were other ways to address the crisis considered?

Answer (Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn) I think that in general we cannot solve the problem merely through resolutions of the UN Security Council.  MONUC is a very very important factor in the DRC but I think that we now have to, above all, convince the Presidents of Rwanda and the DRC to come together and to discuss.  Madame Dlamini Zuma has told me this is the position of the South African government and this is also the position of the European Union.  They have to talk to each other to stop the conflict.  We have to engage in dialogue, in diplomatic means to address the conflict.

(Minister Dlamini Zuma)  I think that the Minister is right.  As you know, our President has been talking to both Presidents and they have started a dialogue themselves.  The Foreign Minister of the DRC went to Kigali to have some discussions and in fact, as we were in the DRC, a delegation from Kigali led by the Rwandan Foreign Minister visited the DRC and were going to engage in discussions on how to move forward.  We think that is a good sign that the two are talking and also, the SADC Organ will meet to see what SADC can do in terms of what is going on in the DRC.  The other issue that is of great concern is the humanitarian issue because there are thousands and thousands of people who are now homeless.  They need food, medical assistance and so on.  So, the humanitarian situation urgently requires our attention while the political discussions are going on.

Question Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Asselborn, is there any possibility of the European Union deploying any troops?  Off course, dialogue is the ideal solution, but is there a possibility that Luxembourg will support the deployment of an EU mission to protect civilians?

Answer (Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn) The first thing, I am personally in favour, in principle, of intervening with military means ONLY with on a UN mandate.  That is generally for me my approach and I think this is also a debate in the European Union.  We received the mandate from Kofi Annan within the framework of the organization of the elections, you remember?  That was a huge discussion in Germany but because it was on the appeal by Kofi Annan, a lot of European countries acquiesced.

Now, there is a responsibility to assist this African country but it has to be supported by the UN.  It is even necessary for the UN to be present and to assist.  That is my general approach.  I know that French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Louis Michel were in the region for discussions.  If there is an official request to assist, it must be, in my view the request of the UN.

Question Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs are you confident that SADC interventions are working in Zimbabwe?  Minister Dlamini Zuma do we know when the SADC Troika will meet?

Answer (Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn) The conflict in Zimbabwe is so difficult that I am not going to tell South Africa what to do in Zimbabwe.  I have no mandate to do this and I think I have too much respect for your country to do this.  I am very very glad that at a certain moment in European history we broke this link between the European Union and Africa that is not a link between two countries – ie. Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom but it is a link between two continents and we now have a mechanism that can deal with issues on this level.  I therefore believe that everything that can be done and is being done by South Africa and SADC is good.  I hope that President Mbeki, who continues to be the mediator, has the energy and can put pressure on both sides to accept this deal.  I hope it is possible to find a solution because in the European Union we discuss this and South Africa’s response to this situation constantly.  I do not think it is a problem with President Mugabe, I think it is a problem of bringing to the people of Zimbabwe who have to live in very dire conditions a positive situation.  I hope you can proceed to a positive outcome.

(Minister Dlamini Zuma) The meeting of SADC will not happen at a Troika level, it will happen at a full Summit level with all members attending.  We are about to finalise the date – the date that is being suggested is Saturday 8 November 2008.  We are just awaiting confirmation from one country.  If everything goes well it will happen on Saturday 8 November 2008.

Question Minister Dlamini Zuma, will the SADC meeting be in South Africa?  On the DRC, in the Nairobi Agreement last November there was a general understanding that the DRC army would disarm and demobilize the Interahamwe.  There seems to be agreement between the UN Security Council members that should be the sequence of events.  It does not seem like the DRC is doing this – is this an issue that SADC will be dealing with?

Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma) The venue of the Summit has not been decided upon but I think that we will know by the end of the day today.  We are giving Mozambique the first option because these matters fall under the mandate of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and Mozambique, as the Deputy Chair of the Organ is taking charge of the Organ for now while the Swazi King is away for about three months.  So, we are waiting to hear if Mozambique wants to host the Summit.  If not, South Africa is ready to do so.  That decision will be taken soon.

On the question on the disarming of the Interahamwe – you are correct.  It is very important to see how we can implement the existing agreements because if you take the Nairobi Agreement and the Amali Process, these go together and if you can implement all the agreements, it will be possible to solve this situation.  So, one of the things to do would be to look at the implementation of these agreements.  Off course, the question might also be, does the DRC Defence Force have the capacity to do this – I cannot answer this, I am not sure.  We therefore have to look at the totality of this situation and see where assistance can be provided to ensure the implementation of already agreed to commitments.  We need to see how the challenge of capacity can be augmented.  I do not think it will help to keep making new agreements, I think the ones already there – the Nairobi and Goma Agreements – should form the basis of solving these problems.

Question Minister Dlamini Zuma, is there any possibility of South Africa contributing more troops to MONUC or are we overstretched?

Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma) We can look at it when the request is presented and see what we can do.  We are willing to consider a request.

Question Ministers, on the discussions on your bilateral relations – I believe that a delegation of businesspeople are accompanying the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.  Could you let us know what the main areas of focus between the two countries are?

Answer (Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn) I am not a banker but people from our finance industry are in Johannesburg and Cape Town meeting their South African counterparts.  There will be an exchange of what we can offer each other.  Business is business and politics is politics.  When I said I was going to visit South Africa, those from the finance industry immediately said they would accompany me.  There are difficult times for the finance industry.  Goods coming from Asia to Europe are processed through Luxembourg.  Luxembourg is in the centre of Europe.

(Minister Dlamini Zuma) Luxembourg is amongst the top banking services provider in the world, so that is why we would like to investigate co-operation and share experiences.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

3 November 2008

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