Full EU Statement On Zimbabwe Re-Engagement Dialogue
10 June 2021
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By EU- We wish to extend our gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for holding today’s third session of formal Political Dialogue between the Republic of Zimbabwe and the European Union.
We appreciate that our deliberations have again taken place at the Ministerial level, thank you for your presence, Honourable Minister. It is also the first time we have this formal engagement after you took office. On behalf of my colleagues and on my own behalf I would like to congratulate you on your nomination and wish you the best of luck for carrying out your duties. Honourable Minister, we look forward to a close, constructive and fruitful cooperation.
This was the third formal political dialogue between the European Union and the Republic of Zimbabwe in the sense of the Cotonou Partnership. The dialogue provides a useful platform to exchange views on topics that are of common interest, and identify areas where we can deepen our relationship but equally on issues we might not agree upon and wish to foster mutual understanding. As we know, the Cotonou agreement is coming to its end later this year. We in Europe count on a continued close cooperation with the African, Caribbean and the Pacific States due to the political accord and the initialling of a follow-up agreement to Cotonou last month. Zimbabwe played an important role in achieving that accord.
The year 2021 is important also because the European Union is embarking on a new multiannual financial cycle. The new cycle will run from 2021 to 2027. We are busy also planning for our new cooperation for those years with Zimbabwe under the new “Global Europe” financial instrument.
Today’s discussions have taken place after more than a year under the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had an impact and continues to have an impact on Zimbabwe as well as on the rest of the world. We exchanged views on Zimbabwe’s COVID-19 response, the EU’s action and assistance and the waysforward. The EU is fully committed to address the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic and its consequences; especially on the most vulnerable.
Furthermore, we discussed human rights, democratisation, rule of law and good governance. The EU reaffirmed the need to pay special attention to these topics, also with the growing impact the global pandemic is having on these shared values. We are concerned about a shrinking democratic space, the lack of progress in addressing reports of violations of human rights by the security forces and in thoroughly investigating reported cases of forced disappearances.
In February, the EU adopted a EU27 declaration (i.e. by the High Representative on behalf of the European Union) on Zimbabwe. In this context, the EU reviewed its restrictive measures, and decided to renew its arms embargo and to maintain a targeted assets freeze against one company, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, taking into account the situation in Zimbabwe, including the continuing need to investigate the role of security force actors in human rights abuses. With this statement, the EU reminded the Government of Zimbabwe that it had committed to adhere to its constitutional and international human rights obligations. Furthermore, the EU welcomed further opportunities for
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continued dialogue and engagement with Zimbabwe and reiterated its ambition for a moreconstructive relationship. We believe today’s meeting was an important milestone in these endeavours.
Of importance was also the topic of economic development. After two consecutive years for Zimbabwe with negative growth, economic recovery is paramount to improve the serious humanitarian and socio-economic situation, which has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. We acknowledged the efforts to stabilize the macro-economic situation. The European Union stands ready to continue supporting the Zimbabwean people in the current socio-economic challenges. For this, the Government should share its views on the needs and increase its own contribution to social sectors. We believe that structural reforms are a prerequisite for Zimbabwe to enter an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable growth path.
A long-term solution to the challenges Zimbabwe is facing calls also for transparency and combatting corruption. We encouraged Zimbabwe to persevere in implementing and adhering to much needed reforms. Real progress will pave the way for a stronger relationship between Zimbabwe and the EU.
At today’s meeting, we also touch upon the EU-Zimbabwe relations in the context of the wider relations of our two continents, Europe and Africa, and we look forward to further deliberations on the preparations for the EU-AU summit and other pan-African and pan-European issues.
Honourable Minister, we would like to express our appreciation for the continuation of a formal Political Dialogue with Zimbabwe. We wish to deepen our common engagement in this format, and we would suggest that we, in addition to the high-level dialogue, also allow for a more structured sectoral policy dialogue with line Ministries. We look forward to our future engagement.
H.E. Ambassador Timo Olkkonen, Head of EU Delegation to Zimbabwe [*]The European Union was represented at this occasion by
H.E. Timo Olkkonen, Ambassador, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Zimbabwe;
H.E. Laurent Chevallier, Ambassador of France;
H.E. Udo Volz, Ambassador of Federal Republic of Germany;
H.E. Loukas Karatsolis, Ambassador of Greece;
H.E. Carlo Perrotta, Ambassador of Italy;
H.E. Fionnuala Gilsenan, Ambassador of Ireland;
H.E. Barbara van Hellemond, Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands; H.E. Miguel De Calheiros Velozo, Ambassador of Portugal;
Mr Alexandru Irimia, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Romania;
Ms Cecilia Garcia Gasalla, Chargée d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain; Mr Martin Jörnrud, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Sweden;
Ms Françoise Puissant Baeyens, First Secretary with the Embassy of Belgium in Pretori