Media statement by Honourable Luwellyn Landers, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on international developments, 19 March 2015, Imbizo Media Centre, Cape Town
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media, our briefing this afternoon will focus on:
(1) The attack at a museum in Tunisia;
(2) Preparations for South Africa’s hosting of the mid-year Summit of the African Union;
(3) The upcoming India, Brazil South Africa (IBSA) Ministerial Meeting to be held in South Africa, and
(4) Our recent three-nation visit to Latin America.
1. Attack in Tunisia
The South African Government has taken note of the attack on a museum in Tunisia, where scores of people lost their lives. Officials from the South African Embassy in Tunis are working with authorities to verify reports that South African citizens were amongst those affected by the attack. At this point, we are still waiting for official confirmation from the Tunisian authorities through our embassy in Tunis.
In the meantime, the South African Government strongly condemns the attack on innocent civilians. We reiterate our stance that terrorism in any form and from whichever quarter cannot be condoned. South Africa will continue to support regional and international efforts to address the scourge of terrorism in all its forms, including working through relevant forums such as the AU Peace and Security Council, of which South Africa is a member state.
2. Mid-year Summit of the AU
The last Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2015, decided that the mid-year Summit will take place in South Africa under the theme: “Year of Women Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. The Summit was originally scheduled to take place in N’djamena, Chad.
The African Union Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, is in South Africa today (19 March) for discussions on preparations for the Summit and its related meetings. The talks will kick-start the negotiations on Host Country Agreement which will set out the roles of the Host Country, the African Union Commission and other stakeholders.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is coordinating and facilitating an Interdepartmental Logistics Committee (IDLC) which is working on the logistics for the Summit. The IDLC is composed of the relevant government departments and the Office of the Premier (Gauteng). The IDLC will report to the Inter-Ministerial Committee of the Republic of South Africa, which is responsible for political oversight and guidance.
The important dates to note for the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government and its related meetings are as follows:
- Permanent Representatives’ Committee: 7-8 June 2015
- (DIRCO’s conference centre)
- 27th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council: 10-12 June 2015
- (Sandton International Convention Centre)
- 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government: 14-15 June 2015 (Sandton International Convention Centre)
3. IBSA Trilateral Ministerial Council
On 31 March 2015, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will host the 8th IBSA Trilateral Ministerial Commission (ITMC) meeting at DIRCO Headquarters, OR Tambo Building. Minister will host the Minister of External Affairs of India, Minister Sushma Swaraj, and the Minister of External Affairs of Brazil, Minister Mauro Vieira.
The 8th ITMC presents an opportunity to undertake a comprehensive review of the activities of IBSA. This will include reflecting on the achievements and challenges of IBSA activities over the last 12 years, and to enhance the Forum’s strengths and unique identity.
In addition, this Meeting provides an opportunity to map a strategic way forward for 2015-2020, considering the changing dynamics in a fast-changing changing global order.
The India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum came to fruition through the Brasilia Declaration of 06 June 2003, as a new South-South paradigm and significantly celebrated its 10-year Anniversary in 2013.
The main objectives of the IBSA Dialogue Forum are as follows:
- To promote South-South dialogue, cooperation and common positions on global political and multilateral issues of importance;
- To promote trade and investment opportunities among the three regions, as well as the exchange of information, expertise, technologies and skills;
- To promote international poverty alleviation and social development through the IBSA Trust;
- To promote Technical cooperation and
- To promote People-to-People cooperation
One of the flagship programmes of IBSA is the IBSA Facility for Hunger and Poverty Alleviation / the IBSA Trust Fund. The Fund has been heralded as a new paradigm for South-South Co-operation with an emphasis on ownership by partners. Targeted at Least Developed Countries, each IBSA country contributes US$ 1 million per annum to the IBSA Trust Fund.
The objective for the creation of the IBSA Trust Fund was to alleviate poverty and hunger and contribute to the realization of the MDGs. Its purpose is therefore to identify replicable and scalable projects that can be disseminated to interested developing countries as examples of best practices in the fight against poverty and hunger.
There are a number of ongoing projects in Sudan, South Sudan as part of the Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development effort, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone whilst new projects have also been launched in Lao PDR, Vietnam and Palestine. The IBSA Fund has received several awards for its innovative model which offers unconditional poverty alleviation assistance and is high impact.
4. Visit to South America
Lastly, we would like to share with you information on the three-nation visit we undertook recently to South America. In an effort to further strengthen bilateral relations between South Africa and South American countries, we visited Uruguay, Chile and Colombia during the period of 1-9 March 2015.
In Montevideo, Uruguay, we visited Uruguay as the new government of President Tabare Vazquez was inaugurated. DM Landers hosted an engagement with the business community (the Africa-Uruguay Chamber of Business) and the Afro-descendent community on the evening of 2 March 2015.
On 3 March, we paid a courtesy call on the newly-appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa. During the meeting, we presented a congratulatory letter to Minister Novoa, signed by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane. During the same meeting, we also handed over a congratulatory letter from President Zuma to the new President of Uruguay, Dr Tabaré Vasquez, who was inaugurated on 1 March 2015 in Montevideo.
We concluded the visit with a bilateral meeting with my counterpart, Deputy Minister Jose Luis Cancela, on 3 March 2015. During the meeting, the two delegations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Establishment of a Bilateral Consultation Mechanism between the Republic of South Africa and the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. The MoU is important for the strengthening of structured bilateral relations between South Africa and Uruguay, a country which is the sole GRULAC candidate for the UNSC non-permanent membership in 2016/17.
In Chile, we presented the opening address of the Chile - South Africa Trade Seminar on 5 March 2015 which was attended by several local businesses as well as the Foreign Trade section of the Chilean Foreign Ministry. South Africa is Chile's largest trading partner in Africa, while South Africa is one of the biggest investors in Chile's mining sector. The biggest area of trade between South Africa and Chile is capital goods for mining. The seminar forms part of the working programme of the South Africa-Chile Joint Trade and Investment Committee (JTIC), which was established to address all trade-related matters between the two countries.
I co-chaired the 5th Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) meeting with his Chilean counterpart, Acting Deputy Minister Alfredo Labbe, on 5 March 2015 in Santiago. Bilateral relations are conducted through the (JCM), which continues to serve a constructive purpose in the on-going political dialogue between the two countries at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.
On 7 March, we arrived in Bogota, Colombia, to meet with my counterpart, Ms Patti Londoño. The purpose of the visit was to further strengthen the relations between Colombia and South Africa. South Africa and Colombia have a lot in common in terms of the developmental agenda and we have built our Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transport system on the Colombian model, for example.
It is further evident that significant goodwill towards South Africa exists in Colombia, which is further boosted by the presence of South African investments in the Mining, Insurance and Beer Brewing industries, to mention a few. South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry plan to further capitalise on the interest in South Africa by launching a trade mission to Colombia during June 2015.
Our visit to Colombia allowed for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations between South Africa and Colombia which would play a significant role in providing for structured bilateral relations. The signing of the agreement took place in the evening of 9 March 2015, prior to Deputy Minister Landers’ departure back to South Africa.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road