Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,
High Representative Ashton and I have just concluded our discussions. Whilst High Representative Ashton has visited South Africa previously, I am glad to welcome her again to South Africa in her capacity as the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as Vice-President of the European Commission, and as interlocutor on the Ministerial Political Dialogue between South Africa and the European Union.
The relationship between South Africa and the European Union (EU) has been significantly enhanced through the establishment of a Strategic Partnership on 14 May 2007 which expanded cooperation between South Africa and the EU on issues of mutual interest.
We had fruitful discussions this afternoon on a number of issues of bilateral and multilateral concern, including on peace and security issues, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, as well as the Eurozone Crisis.
Over the past year, South Africa and the EU have worked together in dealing with some of Africa’s challenges such as Madagascar, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Somalia and we are satisfied that our collaboration has been very fruitful.
Regarding the issue of oil sanctions against Iran, we have agreed to send a South African interdepartmental delegation to Brussels to discuss the impact of the application of EU sanctions on Iran on South Africa and the rest of the Southern African region.
On Syria, both South Africa and the EU agree that current developments in Syria are serious and that the situation needs to be addressed by the international community despite the differences of approach by members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Both parties further call for an end to the violence in Syria.
Concerning Madagascar, we agreed on the need for the implementation of the SADC roadmap.
We welcomed the adoption of the report of the SADC Facilitator on Zimbabwe and we urge the stakeholders to work together, in particular on the constitution making process.
On Sudan, we agreed that the recommendations of the Roadmap of the AU Peace and Security Council on solving the outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan as well as the subsequent UN Security Council Resolution 2046 (2012) need to be implemented by the parties and we remain concerned at the humanitarian situation in the region.
With regard to Somalia, we remain vested in supporting the strengthening of the Somali Federal Government and the fight against piracy.
We discussed the state of play of the EU-SADC EPA negotiations, and reaffirmed the importance of reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial, enhances growth and generates jobs. We reiterated our strong commitment to concluding the negotiations as a matter of priority. We are convinced that solutions to the pending issues of the EPA can be found. To this end, we urged our negotiators to expedite their work.
The recent consolidation of the South Africa-EU Peace and Security Committee, the revival of the Crime and Justice Dialogue and the Police Cooperation initiative, the establishment of the human rights dialogue and informal interaction on disarmament diplomacy further indicates the extent to which South Africa and the EU have been working together. For our part as South Africa we would like to intensify such activities to ensure that the strategic partnership becomes meaningful to ordinary citizens of our regions.
The EU remains an important and strategic partner for our country and continues to contribute to our development Agenda, as well as in SADC and Africa as a whole. We look forward to a successful Summit in September in Brussels where our leaders will further consolidate our work and friendship.
High Representative Ashton, can I invite you to address the media.