Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the media briefing on international developments, 03 July 2015, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria

Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media;

We have invited you today to share information regarding some of the work we are doing to promote South Africa’s foreign policy priorities and advance our national interests.

In all our work internationally, we seek to champion the unity, peace and prosperity of the African continent, of which South Africa is an integral part. On the developments in the Kingdom of Lesotho, we will wait for the outcome of today’s SADC Double Troika Summit, which I trust you will follow with keen interest.

In all our work internationally, we also seek to promote and advance the agenda of South-South cooperation, bearing in mind the common challenges and aspirations we share with the rest of the developing world. In this regard, we will give you a preview of South Africa’s participation in the forthcoming BRICS Summit, to be hosted by the Russian Federation.

We will also reflect on other matters of concern, including the latest attack on holidaymakers in Tunisia, which forms part of a series of attacks whose main victims have been innocent civilians. We will also comment on the decision by Cuba and the Unites States to resume diplomatic relations.

Seventh BRICS Summit in the Russian Federation  

His Excellency President Jacob Zuma will lead the South African delegation to the VII (Seventh) BRICS Summit which will be hosted by the President of the Russian Federation, His Excellency Vladimir Putin, from 08 to 09 July 2015. The theme for the VII Summit is: “BRICS Partnership – a Powerful Factor of Global Development”.

A number of meetings will be held in the run-up to the Summit.  These include:

  • The BRICS Business Council and its Working Groups will meet in Moscow on 06 July 2015 and then proceed to Ufa for a meeting with the BRICS Leaders on 09 July 2015.

  • The BRICS Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors will meet in Moscow prior to the Summit on 07 July 2015;

  • The first meeting of the BRICS Board of Governors of the New Development Bank will also take place in Moscow, on 07 July 2015;

  • The BRICS Ministers of Trade and Industry will meet in Moscow on 07 July 2015;

It is expected that, during the Summit, the Leaders will also receive feedback following their meeting on the margins of the G20 Summit in Brisbane on 15 November 2014, at which they asked their Finance Ministers to designate the President and Vice-Presidents of the New Development Bank, in advance of the next Summit.  

The Leaders also asked the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to ensure that, by the next Summit, the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) Working Group concludes the procedural rules and operational guidelines of the Governing Council and Standing Committee of the CRA, and to conclude an Inter-Central Bank Agreement.

The Leaders will also be informed of the status of ratification process within each BRICS Country of the New Development Bank (NDB) Agreement and CRA Treaty.  

On 17 June 2015 and 18 June 2015 respectively, our National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces ratified the Agreement and Treaty and necessary Instruments of Ratification and Acceptance have also been signed.

The first meeting of the Board of Governors of the New Development Bank will take place in Moscow on 07 July 2015, prior to the VII BRICS Summit, and the Board is expected to report to the BRICS Leaders on the steps taken to operationalise the Bank.

The Leaders are also expected to adopt the key Summit outcome documents, namely the Ufa Declaration and the Ufa Action Plan, which will reflect the views of BRICS member states on a number of international issues, and the Action Plan will spell out the areas of cooperation and meetings which will be held during the chairpersonship of the Russian Federation.  

The Leaders will also witness the signing of various agreements which indicate a deepening of the BRICS relationship.

In keeping with the tradition of an “outreach meeting” initiated by South Africa when it hosted the Fifth BRICS Summit, and continued by Brazil at the Sixth Summit, President Putin has arranged a meeting between the BRICS Leaders and the Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and other invited Leaders.

This outreach meeting is with eleven leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO- i.e. permanent members inclusive of BRICS members and the following: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and observers, which are Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU- Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia) and other invited states (the Leaders of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan). This outreach will take place on 09 July 2015.

Terrorist attack on two hotel resorts in Tunisia

The South African Government joins the international community in condemning the terrorist attack on the two hotel resorts in Sousse, Tunisia on 26 June 2015 that has left 39 people dead and many more injured. The South African government expresses its sincere condolences to the families and friends of the deceased and wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

The South African government reaffirms its solidarity with Tunisia in its attempts to combat the scourge of terrorism that has affected the sisterly country in recent time. South Africa reiterates its call to mobilise international efforts to combat terrorism. In this regard, South Africa will join the peace-loving global community to establish a united and consolidated approach to curb the scourge of terrorism.  

South Africa reaffirms its commitment to assist Tunisia in her attempts to establish a peaceful, prosperous and stable country, especially after having finalised its constitution and conducted democratic elections recently.

Relations between Cuba and the USA

We conclude the statement by indicating that the South African Government welcomes the exchange of diplomatic notes on 01 July 2015 between President Raul Castro of Cuba and President Barack Obama of the United States of America on the immediate re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries after a gap of more than five decades.  The two Presidents committed to 20 July 2015 as the date for the reopening of Embassies (diplomatic Missions) in their respective Capitals.

Whilst we welcome the announcement, we join all progressive and freedom seeking nations in calling for the full and immediate lifting of the unilaterally imposed Blockade against Cuba.  Only once the Blockade is lifted will relations between these two neighbouring states achieve its desired objectives.

South Africa unequivocally supports the call by President Obama to the United States Congress to “work towards the immediate lifting of the Trade Embargo (Blockade)”.  This historic occasion presents an opportunity to reset relations between the two countries.  Outstanding issues still to be resolved should not dissuade both sides to find a comprehensive negotiated solution that respects the inalienable sovereignty of both states.
Thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
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