Media Statement by Deputy Minister Ebrahim on International Relations Issues, Tuesday, 09 April 2013, DIRCO
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media,
In our briefing today, I will focus on a) the current tensions in the Korean Peninsula, b) the inauguration of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, which is taking place today, as well as other international and regional developments and upcoming events scheduled for April.
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. CURRENT TENSIONS IN THE KOREAN PENINSULA
An important pillar of our foreign policy is the pursuit of global peace and security. South Africa is therefore deeply concerned by the heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
South Africa calls on all sides to refrain from any action or rhetoric that would aggravate the already tense situation.
With reference to our own negotiated settlement in South Africa, we believe that peaceful reconciliation of conflict situations is best addressed through inclusive political dialogue. We believe that in the long-term, a political solution carries greater weight than a military solution – one may win the war, but lose the peace.
South Africa is a firm supporter of multilateralism and we highly value the central role of the UN and its agencies in the settlement of international and national disputes.
South Africa has consistently called for the resumption of the Six-Party Peace Talks and for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
South Africa recognises the rights of all NPT member states to legitimately develop nuclear energy for peaceful civilian purposes. We believe that a nuclear arsenal does not confer greater security for any State. This is the message that South Africa has consistently communicated in its interaction with all other countries.
Since the announcement by the DPRK in February 2005 that it had developed a nuclear weapons deterrent capability, the South African Government has consistently called on the DPRK to verifiably dismantle any nuclear weapons, to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) without delay, to place all their facilities under comprehensive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification, and to contribute through strengthened confidence-building measures to global nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. At the same time, South Africa recognises the rights of all NPT member states to legitimately develop nuclear energy for peaceful civilian purposes.
Therefore, the South African Government strongly condemned the nuclear test carried out by the DPRK on 12 February 2013. This was a clear violation of UNSC Resolutions calling on the DPRK not to conduct any further nuclear tests.
On 12 February 2013, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said: “South Africa believes that it is a prerequisite for peace and security in the region that the DPRK, as a confidence building measure, verifiably proves to the international community that it has permanently and fully dismantled any nuclear weapons. South Africa continues to urge all parties involved to avoid any actions that could exacerbate the volatile situation in the region.”
2. OUTCOMES OF THE 14TH EXTRAORDINARY EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING OF THE AFRICAN UNION
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Nkoana-Mashabane attended the 14th Extraordinary Executive Council Meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa yesterday, 8 April 2013.
The purpose of the meeting was to finalize preparations for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Organisation of African Unity / African Union that will be held on 25 May 2013. These celebrations at the African Union and in the different Member States will run until 24 May 2014.
African Union Summit theme for 2013 will be on “Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance”.
3. PRESIDENT ZUMA TO ATTEND INAUGURATION OF INCOMING KENYAN PRESIDENT
Following her working visit to Addis Ababa, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will accompany President Jacob Zuma to the inauguration of the President-elect of the Republic of Kenya, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, which is taking place today.
It is expected that bilateral consultations will be held on the margins of the inauguration with the objective of discussing issues of mutual interest.
President-elect Kenyatta won Kenya's Presidential elections last month.
South Africa congratulates the Kenyans on their free and fair elections and looks forward to working with the new Government to further SA-Kenya relations, especially in the field of economic development, trade and investment, as well as on peace and security issues on the Continent.
4. PRESIDENT ZUMA TO ATTEND WORKING VISIT TO ALGERIA AND NIGERIA
President Jacob Zuma will be undertaking a working visit to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria on 14-15 April 2013 for bilateral consultations with H.E. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The two countries enjoy close bilateral cooperation through the framework of the South Africa-Algeria Bi-National Commission of Cooperation (BNC), whose work is centred on the following key areas of interaction:
- Quality of Life and Human Resources;
- People to People Relations;
- Energy and Infrastructure;
- Natural Resources;
- Defence, Safety and Security, and
It is envisaged that bilateral issues, such as the convening of the Sixth Session of the BNC in South Africa and the preceding BNC Ministerial Mid-Term Review to evaluate the status of bilateral relations, will be high on the agenda.
Moreover, South Africa and Algeria continue to work hand in hand in building a stronger African Union and its structures. To this end, regional developments will also feature prominently in the consultations with President Bouteflika.
South Africa and Algeria share common positions on key African and regional issues, including the resolution of the Mali conflict through dialogue, and the combating of terrorism and organised crime in the broader Sahel region, as well as on the decolonization of the Western Sahara.
Following his visit to Algeria, President Jacob Zuma will undertake a working visit to the Federal Republic of Nigeria for consultations with his counterpart on 16 April 2013.
The official discussions between President Zuma and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, will primarily focus on strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries. Attention will also be given to regional, continental and multilateral issues.
At the invitation of President Zuma, President Jonathan will pay a State Visit to South Africa from 6-7 May 2013. This will be President Jonathan’s first visit to South Africa after he won the Presidential elections in 2011.
A number of Agreements/ Memorandum of Understanding are expected to be signed during the State Visit.
It is expected that President will be accompanied by the Minister Nkoana-Mashabane on the aforementioned visits.
5. DEPUTY MINISTER EBRAHIM TO UNDERTAKE WORKING VISIT TO IRAN AND QATAR
I will undertake a working visit to the State of Qatar and the Islamic Republic of Iran on 14-18 April 2013.
On 14-15 April, I will lead a delegation to the State of Qatar for the Fourth Round of Bilateral Consultations. The Bilateral Consultations are convened in accordance with Article 1 of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, which was signed in Cape Town on 15 May 2002.
The visit will provide an opportunity to engage the Government of Qatar on developments in the region and also to review the status of bilateral relations and discuss ways in which they will be enhanced further. It is also envisaged that discussions would be held on increased Qatari investment in South Africa and on possible trilateral cooperation in Africa.
My visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran is scheduled for 16-18 April and is taking place at the invitation of Dr Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs of Iran, who visited South Africa in May 2012. Despite the challenging international situation confronting Iran, South Africa attaches significant importance to its bilateral relations with Iran.
One of the main objectives of the visit is to exchange views between our Governments on developments domestically and within our respective regions, to review the implementation of our bilateral engagements and to assess the potential for the expansion thereof, particularly in the field of education and environmental affairs. The visit will further afford our Governments the opportunity to engage on the latest nuclear developments, and human rights fields, with a particular emphasis on exchanging South African best practices on human rights.
6. SOUTH AFRICA TO HOST INTERNATIONAL CONTACT GROUP ON SOMALIA
South Africa will be hosting the International Contact Group on Somalia on 23-24 April 2013 at the DIRCO Building in Pretoria. More details of this conference will be made available soon.
7. HEADS OF MISSION CONFERENCE
DIRCO is currently hosting its annual Heads of Missions conference from 8-18 April 2013 here at the Department’s headquarters in Pretoria.
The meeting brings together all South African Heads of Mission from a 126 Missions in a 110 countries.
The Heads of Missions Conference is addressed by the President Zuma and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, as well as other Cabinet Ministers.
The purpose of the Conference is to determine the role of South Africa’s foreign policy, and particularly of Missions in achieving national priorities as outlined by the President in his State of the Nation Address.
8. REGISTRATION OF SOUTH AFRICANS ABROAD (ROSA)
The Department is in the process of disseminating information on ROSA, i.e. the “Registration of South Africans abroad”, a software programme developed by DIRCO to enable travelers to register online.
The initial ROSA software programme was initially launched in May 2008 and has allowed DIRCO to locate South Africans abroad, especially during disaster situations, in order to render consular services.
From our current experience, the monthly average registration since launch stands at around 200 persons per month- roughly 2400 persons per year. When compared to the Statistics South Africa 2011 annual report on population movements, South African departures totaled 545 5260 persons departing through various ports from South Africa. It would appear that the registration is not very popular.
The drive to popularize the Registration of South Africans Abroad will allow DIRCO to assist South Africans in the event of an emergency. The registration is a free, voluntary service provided by Government, through DIRCO and is available to South African citizens who are travelling, living, working or studying abroad.
The ROSA initiative has been endorsed and supported by the Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA).
Vast numbers of South African citizens who travel abroad every day do not encounter any difficulties. However, through our Diplomatic Mission abroad, we have assisted a growing number of South Africans who have become victims of crime, accidents, illness, death, natural/manmade disasters, civil unrest, or whose family and/or next-of-kin needed to contact them in an emergency.
Registration through the website is not proof of South African citizenship. If an individual applies for any service from the South African Embassies, High Commissions or Consulate General while abroad, that person will be asked by staff to provide proof of South African citizenship, such as a passport or bar-coded ID book.
Information on ROSA is not continuously monitored and will only be accessed during a declared consular emergency. Registration is voluntary and free of charge.
DIRCO encourages all citizens to consider registration as an integral part of travel planning and security.
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