Media Statement by Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim during the DIRCO weekly media briefing on international developments, 14 May 2013, Pretoria, South Africa

Ladies and Gentleman, Our briefing today will focus on the international developments including Syria/Turkey situation, Outcomes of SADC Troika, Updates on Prof Karabus and developments on the Continent.

Starting with the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, the South African Government has taken note of the latest regional escalation in the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. In this regard we extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the 46 people who lost their lives in the attack this past Saturday.

What makes this attack even more tragic is the fact that it affects Syrian refugees already suffering from the devastation of the conflict in Syria as well as those Turkish communities offering them shelter.  South Africa urges both the Turkish and Syrian government to exercise constraint and not to allow this incident to escalate into further loss of life.

South Africa remains deeply concerned about the continuing violence and deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and has persistently called on all the parties to the conflict to stop the violence as well as respect and protect the rights of the Syrian population. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, South Africa has condemned all human rights abuses; in particular violations of the rights of vulnerable groups, such as women and children. All the parties have the responsibility to protect and preserve human rights.

The South African Government is committed to encouraging all parties involved in the current conflict in Syria to engage in a process of all-inclusive national dialogue, free of any form of violence, intimidation or outside interference aimed at regime change, in order to satisfy the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.

In this regard, South Africa welcomes current US-Russian efforts to convene an international conference at which both the Syrian Government and opposition will be allowed to partake signalling an end to the military conflict in that country. South Africa believes it is essential that a political path be supported by a united, cohesive international effort towards a Syrian-led negotiated political transition aimed at establishing a democratic pluralistic society in which minorities are protected.

Updates on Prof Karabus case

Ladies and Gentleman you will recall that the protracted completion of Prof Karabus’s case remains an issue of concern to the South Africa Government and we will continue to diplomatic push for his release by the UEA authorities.

In this regard the South African Embassy and his lawyers have since the rejection of the appeal been trying to get his passport back from the authorities.

The Department received a Note Verbale from the UAE on 13 May 2013 informing that the SA Mission in Abu Dhabi should be requested to facilitate the processing of all outstanding documentation to enable the speedy return of Professor Karabus to South Africa. The Note confirmed that Prof Karabus has been cleared of all charges against him, that there are no outstanding cases against him and that he has been cleared to leave the UAE once all documentation has been processed by the UAE authorities.

The South African Embassy is in constant contact with the relevant authorities to expedite this process and that we trust that his passport will be returned to him by Wednesday, 15 May 2013 in order for his travel arrangements to be finalised.

The only remaining issue of concern is the fact that the administrative arrangements by the UAE authorities are taking very long before he can leave the UAE. It is anticipated that the process will be finalised before the end of the week.

Till this end the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s undertaken the following actions on the matter:

  • Extensive consular assistance is being provided to Prof Karabus and his family. Mission staff in Abu Dhabi is regularly visiting and calling Prof Karabus and in South Africa the staff is also in regular telephonic contact with his daughter, Dr Sarah Karabus. All court hearings have been attended by mission staff;
  • The UAE Ambassador in SA has been called in twice to express South Africa’s concern on the issue and a demarche has been handed over;
  • The South African Government and the Embassy in Abu Dhabi had extensive interaction with the Foreign Ministry and other stakeholders regarding the case;
  • The Minister wrote a letter to her UAE counterpart ;
  • Deputy Minister Fransman visited his counterpart in the UAE to discuss the matter;
  • Deputy Minister Fransman wrote to his counterpart, the Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs on two occasions.

Outcomes of the Troika meeting

The Organ Troika Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) was held in Cape Town, South Africa on 10 May 2013.

Summit was attended by the following Heads of State and Government and their representatives:

  • President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
  • H.E. President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
  • Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

The Summit considered the political and security situation in the region, in particular the latest developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Madagascar and the Republic of Zimbabwe.

On Democratic Republic of Congo

The Summit received a progress report on the deployment of the Intervention Brigade in the Eastern DRC and welcomed the adoption of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2098 of 28 March, 2013 which provides the mandate for the deployment of the Intervention Brigade (IB) in the Eastern DRC under the auspices of MONUSCO.

The Summit also noted with appreciation the continued collaboration between SADC and the ICGLR, including the African Union and the UN on the deployment in the Eastern DRC and further urged the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the M23 to continue with the Kampala Talks with the view of concluding them expeditiously, to allow the people of the Eastern DRC to live in peace.

The Summit reiterated its call for urgent attention to be given to the grave humanitarian situation in the Eastern DRC.

On Madagascar

The Summit expressed grave concern on the decision of the Special Electoral Court to endorse ineligible candidatures for the forthcoming Presidential elections in violation of the Malagasy Constitution and the Electoral Law.

Summit also expressed its displeasure on the decision of H.E. Rajoelina to renege on his earlier undertaking not to stand in the forthcoming Presidential election as reflected in the SADC Dar Es Salaam Declaration of 16 January 2013 and further expressed its disappointment with the decision of Mouvance Ravalomanana to present Madam Lalao Ravalomanana, former First Lady of the Republic of Madagascar as a Presidential candidate.

Summit urged H.E. Andry Rajoelina, former President Didier Ratsiraka and Madam Lalao Ravalomanana to consider withdrawing their candidatures for the sake of peace and stability in Madagascar.

Summit urged all parties in Madagascar to respect the Election Calendar as issued by the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI-T) and endorsed by the United Nations.

In view of the recent development in Madagascar, Summit invites the UN in collaboration with the AU to supervise the elections in Madagascar. The summit committed to continue to be seized with the developments in Madagascar.

On Zimbabwe

The Summit commended H.E. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa and the SADC Facilitator on Zimbabwe Political Dialogue for his efforts towards the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in Zimbabwe.

In addition the Summit also commended the people of Zimbabwe for holding a credible, free and fair constitutional referendum on 16 March 2013 and urged the parties to finalise the outstanding issues in the implementation of the GPA and preparations for holding free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

President Zuma to undertake a working visit to the Russian Federation

The President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, will undertake a Working Visit to the Russian Federation on 16 May 2013.

President Zuma will be accompanied by a delegation of cabinet Ministers that includes Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister NN Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister Van Schalkwyk; Minister Cwele; Minister Mthethwa;  and Minister Dipuo Peters.

The Working Visit is guided by all relevant legal instruments and mechanisms such as the Declaration of Strategic Partnership between the Republic of South Africa and the Russian Federation signed in March 2013, the Protocol on Political Consultations signed in 1994, the Declaration of Principles on Friendly Relations and Partnership signed in 1999, the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) signed in 1999, the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation established in 2002 and the Treaty of Friendship and Partnership signed in 2006.

During the recent Working Visit of President Putin in March 2013, eight Agreements in the fields of Education, Energy, Defence, Fisheries, Mineral Resources, Transport and Science and Technology were signed. In addition, a number of business to business contracts were signed between South African and Russian companies.

Bilateral trade and investment has grown substantially in 2012. The signing of the abovementioned Agreements provides an opportunity to further expand trade and investment and skills and technology exchange between the two countries.

During the Working Visit in Sochi, President Zuma and President Putin will review bilateral relations and exchange views on critical regional and global issues.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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