Notes following Briefing to the Media on Conclusion of South Africa - Bulgaria Bilateral Discussions Presidential Guesthouse, Bryntirion Estate, Pretoria
Friday 13 February 2009
Remarks by South African Foreign Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media. We are very honoured to host His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Bulgaria Ivailo Kalfin. We are particularly pleased that we are hosting him in South Africa after a long history of relations between South Africa and Bulgaria at various phases in our lives. During our very difficult days, as you know, Bulgaria was one of those that stood by us and assisted in bringing what is now a very good democratic South Africa. So, we will always be grateful to the people of Bulgaria for that and we are also happy because we are meeting at a time where we are upgrading our Mission in Sophie. We will now have a full Mission with full Ambassadorial status. Our Ambassador designate is seated in front. She has probably received the best briefing having participated in these discussions. We hope that she will indeed implement everything we have discussed.
Basically, what we want to do is to strengthen our relations, ensure we have concrete co-operation between our two countries in various areas, whether in the economy, trade, culture, science and technology, health, training and we also want to ensure we have regular interactions and exchange of ideas, political consultations so that we are kept in dynamic contact and move forward on all the necessary issues because we have no problems at a political level but we need to now strengthen the co-operation between our countries. We are also hoping there will be high-level visits between now and next year from South Africa to Bulgaria and vice versa.
We have also talked about what is happening in the European Union, the Balkans, the role Bulgaria is playing, what is happening in our region, so we have really had a very fruitful and constructive discussion and we are grateful that in his busy schedule, the Deputy Prime Minister has managed to find time to come and visit us.
Remarks by Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin
It is a huge pleasure and honour for me to this morning enjoy the hospitality of my colleague Minister Dlamini Zuma. I am indeed very happy with the content and results of our discussions.
We have discussed a number of important issues and we have seen opportunities for co-operation in the future. In Bulgaria, we remember and have a very warm feeling towards South African students who spent many years in Bulgaria. We now have new realities. We see that South Africa is developing very fast – this is one of the major economies in the world, one of the major political leaders in Africa, especially in times of economic and political turbulence, it is very important to find the common ground for action.
We have been discussing a number of bilateral issues and perspectives in terms of high level political visits and exchanges and in terms of very concrete steps in the fields of education, culture, science, economy, transportation, etc – there are many potential possibilities.
I was very interested and have heard a very valuable analysis on what is happening in the region and Africa. As you know, the European Union is also very involved and interested in these developments. I very highly appreciate the role of South Africa in areas of international interest like Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somalia, and I very much appreciate the very positive and constructive role being played by South Africa in tackling and dealing with these issues. This was very important to me because we are discussing these issues in the European Union and I think it is very much needed that when support is provided, it should be the right support and the right support comes when you know what the region thinks, what the people directly involved in solving the issues believe.
We have also discussed issues related to relations between South Africa and the European Union. Minister Dlamini Zuma briefed me on a number of issues ranging from economic co-operation to the critical involvement and support of the European Union to particular countries. I was very pleased that we had a discussion on co-operation in international organisations. We have a very good history in supporting each other in different international organisations and we are going to continue doing so. Off course, we are very interested in the reform of the international institutions including UN reform, UN Security Council reform. I think we have very similar opinions on the need and the way in which to proceed on these matters.
Once again I thank Minister Dlamini Zuma for her hospitality and the very good talks we have had.
Questions and answers
Question Ministers, in terms of the discussions around Zimbabwe – was the issue of sanctions discussed at all? What is Bulgaria’s view on the lifting of sanctions by amongst others, the European Union?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma) Yes, we discussed it and as you know, the European Union works collectively. We did suggest it would be good if Minister Kalfin could assist us in the discussions in the European Union but he can obviously not take a decision here as a single member because there are 27 member states. It was a good discussion.
(Minister Kalfin) I think that what is happening in Zimbabwe is what the international community expected – the creation of a government which reflected the vote of the Zimbabwean people and which has to act in a very economic situation in Zimbabwe. And again, I very much appreciate the efforts of South Africa, former President Thabo Mbeki, the current government and President to facilitate these developments.
Off course, the European Union had a number of concerns when the election process was underway in Zimbabwe. I think that what we have now is the best possible option – an inclusive government and this government should receive very clear signals that if it proceeds in the right direction, economic reforms and democratic processes in the country, international support will be encouraged. I absolutely agree with Minister Dlamini Zuma and I think that the European Union has good reason to react positively. It is very important and we are going to pay very close attention to the developments in the country.
Question Minister Dlamini Zuma, did you discuss future contracts for legal support between Bulgaria and South Africa for the extradition of criminals?
Answer (Minister Dlamini Zuma) We did not discuss that per se but obviously the two Departments of Justice can discuss further and come to an agreement. We have agreements with other countries and extradition agreements with other countries so there would be no reason to refuse if there is a need for this.
(Minister Kalfin) We have police co-operation which dates from 2004 which is active and very important between our two countries. The police co-operation is indeed something which is important for the government of Bulgaria and the services in my country. I am sure that in the future, in view of this intense schedule of discussions, we will if necessarily discuss the issues of co-operation between justice and police. It is very important to combine the efforts when we speak of anti-terrorism. The Bulgarian institutions are very interested in deepening this co-operation.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
13 February 2009