Notes following a Media Briefing by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to the Media in Pretoria on 18 April 2011 on latest International Developments

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning and welcome to the DIRCO Weekly Media Briefing Session.

This week we will focus on the report from the Hainan Province of the People’s Republic of China, where President Jacob Zuma led a South African delegation to the Third BRICS Leaders Meeting held on 14 April 2011. South Africa attended the Meeting as the newest member of the BRICS and had the following objectives in mind:

  • to consolidate our BRICS membership and commit to its processes and related mechanisms;
  • to identify and leverage opportunities for South Africa’s developmental agenda;
  • to enhance the African Agenda and Sustainable Development;
  • to promote broad cooperation in the Multilateral arena; and
  • to work for cooperation with other emerging market economies.

The theme of the Summit was “Broad Vision, Shared Prosperity” and represented a commitment by almost half of the world’s population to values that South Africa has always embraced. Speakers spoke of a BRICS Mechanism that is and will:

  • remain a locomotive of world economic development;
  • continue to be a bridge between developing and developed countries;
  • continue to be a forum for policy coordination and the exchange of ideas;
  • ensure the Mechanism remains a major platform for dialogue and cooperation on economic, financial and development fields; and
  • ensure emerging economies remain the future source of hope and optimism.

At the end of the Summit, a Joint Declaration was signed, which captures the central essence of what this evolving formation is committed to and seeks to achieve, going into the future. The Declaration speaks mainly to the fact that BRICS countries:

  • are brought together by their objective and strong shared desire for peace, security, development and cooperation;

  • aim to significantly contribute to the development of humanity and establishing a more equitable and fair world;

  • express their wish to have 21st century being marked by peace, harmony, cooperation and scientific development;

  • want to continue contributing to world peace, security and stability, boosting global economic growth, enhancing multilateralism and promoting greater democracy in international relations;

  • continue to share the view that global economic governance should be strengthened, democracy in international relations should be promoted, and the voice of emerging and developing countries in international affairs should be enhanced;

  • recommitted themselves to multilateral diplomacy - with the UN playing the central role in dealing with global challenges and threats;

  • re-affirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more effective, efficient and representative;

  • noted with concern  the turbulence in the Middle East , the North African and West African regions and sincerely wished that  the countries affected achieve peace, stability, prosperity and progress;

  • strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestation;

  • Pronounced that the warring parties in Libya should resolve their differences through peaceful means and dialogue – with the UN and regional organizations playing their appropriate roles. They also expressed their support for the African Union High-Level Panel Initiative on Libya;

  • called for the coordination of macro-economic policies and acknowledged a desire to work together to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth;

  • declared their support to the Group of Twenty (G20) in playing a bigger role in global economic governance as the premier forum for international economic cooperation;

  • reiterated their belief that the governing structure of the international financial institutions should reflect the changes in the world economy, increasing the voice and representation of emerging economies and developing countries;

Beyond the above, President Zuma and his counterparts also pronounced on a number of critical current affairs the world is battling with. For instance, on Climate Change, they pronounced their shared view that it is one of the greatest global threats challenging the livelihood of communities and countries. Furthermore, they pronounced their support to the development and use of renewable energy resources; renewable energy as a means to address climate change; and called for cooperation and information exchange in the field of development of renewable energy resources.

On COP 17, they committed to supporting South Africa as the host and working towards a comprehensive, balanced and binding outcome to strengthen the implementation of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. On Poverty, there is agreement that the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is a moral, social, political and economic imperative of humankind. And last but not least, they committed to supporting infrastructure development in Africa and the continent’s industrialisation, within the NEPAD framework.

Finally, the BRICS Action Plan was adopted by the four principals from Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa. It lays the foundation for cooperation, with the purpose of strengthening BRICS cooperation to the benefit of our peoples. Amongst others, the Action Plan identifies the need to enhance existing cooperation programmes on security issues; central banks; agriculture expertise; establishing a network of research centres; cooperatives; supreme courts; development banks; etc.

The Action Plan also identifies new cooperation areas like health, joint research on economic and trade issues. It also spells out new proposed areas worth exploring included cooperation in cultural fields and sports; green economy; promoting scientific, technological and innovation cooperation in the BRICS format; including by establishment a working group on cooperation in pharmaceutical industry.

The commitments made, once again, vindicate our position that South Africa will indeed benefit from having accepted an invitation to become a BRICS member.

Cote d’Ivoire

Back home, let us look at some of the challenges the African continent is facing. Let’s start with the latest developments in Cote d’Ivoire. Sporadic fighting and looting is still going on in Abidjan but in general the situation is stable. The leader of former President Laurent Gbagbo's party, Mr Affi N’Guessan, urged militants to lay down their arms and called for national reconciliation. Mr N'Guessan read a declaration to the nation on Saturday, 16 April 2011, saying "the war has ended" following Mr Gbagbo's arrest on Monday, 11 April 2011.

Mr N'Guessan was accompanied by Mr Gbagbo's former foreign minister, Alcide Djedje, who told the media that Gbagbo is under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers in northern Korhogo town, a stronghold of President Alassane Ouattara. Mr Djedje said he, at least two other ministers and several legislators also have been given U.N. protection in Abidjan, after an agreement was reached on Thursday with President Ouattara's government.

President Ouattara has said that Mr Gbagbo's safety is assured and that he wants the former President tried by both national and international courts. The International Criminal Court in The Hague has said it is conducting a preliminary examination into alleged crimes perpetrated by all sides in the conflict in this West African nation.

The United Nations has named a team of human rights experts who are to investigate alleged rights abuses in Cote d'Ivoire. 

The Chief of Staff of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS), General Phillippe Mangou, and other former top military commanders, have sworn allegiance to President Ouattara.

The South African government has noted these latest political developments which have culminated in the arrest of former President Laurent Gbagbo as well as some members of his family and a number of other people viewed as close to him.

South Africa deeply regrets the loss of life, violation of human rights and destruction of property in Cote d’Ivoire and sincerely hopes that these latest developments will pave the way for the return of the country to peace and stability. In the aftermath of this conflict, the challenge facing the Ivorian leadership is to unify the country and work towards nation building, healing and reconciliation.

Consistent with the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), South Africa calls for the formation of an inclusive government which would embark on national healing and confidence building measures that include putting in place a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to conduct a genuine national reconciliation process.

Swaziland

The Government of South African notes with great concern of the political developments in the Kingdom of Swaziland. In this regard, the South African government calls for calm and urges all parties involved to exercise restraint.

Furthermore, the South African government urges all the relevant parties in the Kingdom of Swaziland to begin a political dialogue with a view to seek a speedy and peaceful solution to the current situation.

The South African Government will continue to monitor and assess the situation.

Libya

Last week the President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr Jacob G. Zuma, led the African Union’s Ad hoc High Level Committee on Libya to Tripoli, where they met and engaged with the opposing parties in Libya in order to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the current conflict in accordance with the will of the Libyan people. The Committee – which comprises of the Heads of State and Government of Mauritania, Congo Republic, Mali, Uganda and South Africa – was granted permission by NATO to enter Libya. Key on the Agenda of both meetings was the immediate implementation of a ceasefire from both sides and the opening of a political dialogue between the two parties.

The Committee met the Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, in Tripoli on 9 April 2011 and presented to him a roadmap to a negotiated settlement that will translate into long-lasting peace, stability and redevelopment of Libya. As you know, Mr Gaddafi accepted the terms and conditions as presented to him by the Committee. The next day, the AU delegation also travelled to meet with the Interim Transitional National Council in Benghazi on 10 and 11 April 2011. Regrettably, they rejected the proposals presented by the delegation.

While the AU continues to pursue both parties to agree to a negotiated settlement, South Africa reaffirms its support for the AU positions on Libya. We also call upon both parties to implement an immediate ceasefire to bring an end to a further loss of life and the destruction of property.

Lastly, we would like to put it on record that the South African government is cooperating with such partners as the US in investigating the whereabouts of South African photojournalist, Mr Anton Hammerl, who went missing in Libya, along with two journalists from the USA and one from Spain, over ten days ago. You will recall that when the crisis and violence erupted in Libya, we evacuated all South Africans who were in Libya at the time including the entire staff at the South African embassy.  

After the case of Mr Hammerl was reported to us, we then sent people back to Libya to go and investigate his whereabouts. I can confirm right now that we have partially reopened our Tripoli mission and there are people on the ground who are following up leads. We continue to provide consular services to his family and are in regular contact with his wife. We take this opportunity to appeal to those who have captured him to release him so that he could come back to re-join his family. We also wish our country to send prayers to his family and friends during this most trying time.

Let me take this opportunity to once again thank you for all the support you have given us.

I thank you.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation

460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale

18 April 2011


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