Statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, on international developments, 09 July 2013
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media.
In our briefing today, we will pay particular attention to (1) the unfolding situation in the Arab Republic of Egypt, (2) the upcoming meeting of the SADC, to be held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, this weekend and (3) the South Africa-European Union Summit, which South Africa is hosting this month.
1. The situation in the Arab Republic of Egypt
The South African Government has observed with deep concern the suspension of the Constitution and the removal of the democratically-elected President in violation of the Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt – this only one year after the first-ever inclusive democratic Presidential election.
The South African Government views this as a serious breach of the African Union (AU) Constitutive Act and other relevant instruments, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; the Algiers Decision; and the Lomé Declaration.
We therefore welcome and endorse the resolutions of the 384th meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council that was held on 5 July 2013 specifically to deliberate on the situation in Egypt. This meeting decided, amongst others, to “suspend the participation of Egypt in the AU’s activities until the restoration of constitutional order”.
Furthermore, the South African Government considers this event as a major setback for the advancement and consolidation of democracy in Africa.
The South African Government is deeply perturbed about the potential negative impact of this event on peace, stability and security in Egypt and the region. In this respect, South Africa wishes to strongly condemn the shameful acts of violence that took place in Cairo on 8 July 2013 that left more than 50 people dead and over 400 wounded. The South African Government would like to seize this opportunity to express our heartfelt condolences to the families of all who lost loved-ones in this tragic incident.
The South Africa Government calls on all relevant parties to engage in inclusive political dialogue in order to return to a constitutional order as quickly as possible through the holding of free, fair and all-inclusive elections. Furthermore, the Government also calls on all parties to refrain from acts of violence, revenge and retribution.
We also call on all Egyptians to embrace the spirit of national reconciliation which will contribute positively to the establishment of long-term political stability in Egypt. In this regard, South Africa stands ready to continue to assist Egypt by sharing its experiences of political transition from apartheid rule to a democratic dispensation.
All non-essential personnel and families attached to the South African Embassy in Cairo have been temporarily withdrawn until the situation allows for their return. The South African Embassy in Egypt remains open and is available at all times to assist South African citizens should circumstances require.
Government strongly advises all South African citizens to register online on ROSA (Registration of South African citizens Abroad) in order for the Government to be able to contact them or their relatives/friends in South Africa in case of an emergency.
2. SADC meeting in Tanzania
The South African Government will participate in the 15th meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, scheduled for 13 July 2013 in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania.
South Africa chaired the SADC Organ from August 2011 – 2012. Our role as a member of the Troika requires that we give support to the Chair and also collectively lead SADC in implementing its peace and security agenda; and to give policy direction between Summits.
It is expected that the MCO will consider a number of issues, among them, Review of the Political and Security Situation in the Region, Implementation of the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO), Consolidation of Democracy in the Region, SADC-EU Regional Political Cooperation and to also consider Progress Reports on Security Situation in the Region with particular focus on Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Madagascar.
Lastly, South Africa will participate in the SADC Electoral Observer Mission to the Republic of Zimbabwe which is expected to be launched on 15 July 2013.
3. SA-EU Summit
South Africa will host the 6th SA-EU Summit on the 18th of July 2013.
South Africa and the EU’s common interests provide a natural foundation for a strategic partnership that significantly enhances existing cooperation by moving from mere political dialogue to active political cooperation on issues of mutual interest.
Since 1994, buildings on shared values and mutual interests, South Africa and the EU have developed a comprehensive partnership based on the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA).
A guiding principle for the SA-EU Strategic Partnership is that it must support South Africa's national, regional and African priorities and programmes to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment. This is further emphasised in the stated objective of the development partnership between South Africa and the EU to develop the Second Economy and to closer link it to the First Economy.
On 18 July Presidents Von Rumpoy and Barosso will meet President Zuma in Pretoria. Given the challenges that face South Africa at the moment, President Zuma will emphasise South Africa’s engagements with Europe around a central theme namely ”Job Creation through Inward Investment.” This theme is also in response to the diverse demands of South Africa’s national development plan. Investment in this regard should be seen as broad and multi-faceted to encompass all the aspects of South Africa’s relationship with Europe. To this end the Summit will be utilised to:
• Highlight job creation initiatives that South Africa is implementing;
• Elevate existing South Africa and SA-EU job creation programmes; and
• Encourage continuation of EU development cooperation in South Africa.
From a trade perspective, the EU has maintained its lead as South Africa’s most important regional trading partner between 2000 and 2011, although its total share of trade decreased from 35.5% in 2000 to 26.5% in 2011. SA-EU total trade grew 13% in 2011 year-on-year and reflects a high sectoral diversity (manufactured goods, commodities and agriculture). Processed and semi-processed goods represented more than 50% of total South Africa exports to the EU and 79% of the EU exports to South Africa. The EU foreign direct investment stock in South Africa comprises 77% of South Africa’s total FDI stock.
The EU is also South Africa’s main development assistance partner, amounting to €980 million for the period 2007-2013, with a further €900 million from European Investment Bank (EIB) for same period. South Africa’s classification as high middle-income state signifies a possible decrease in ODA from EU.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION