November 8, 2002

ZIMBABWE: SADC/EU meeting ends without agreement on Zimbabwe

A ministerial meeting between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union (EU) ended in Maputo on Friday, November 8, without any agreement on the crisis in Zimbabwe.

The meeting lasted four hours longer than scheduled, and much of that time was spent in negotiations over how to refer to Zimbabwe in the final communique. Key ministers could be seen going from one group to another clutching pieces of paper. As the afternoon wore on so the diplomats became increasingly tired, increasingly frayed. In the end, all that could be said in the final statement was "On the question of Zimbabwe, SADC and EU could not reach an agreement".

The meeting's co-chairman, the Danish Minister for Europe Affairs, Bertel Haarder, read out to a closing press conference the text on Zimbabwe that the EU had proposed. This expressed "concern at the plight of the people of Zimbabwe", and stressed that the issue of land reform could not be separated from the rule of law, democracy and human rights. It suggested sending a joint SADC/EU team to Zimbabwe to follow the situation and make recommendations for the way forward. Haarder said it was the Zimbabwean delegation, led by Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge, that had blocked adoption of this text.However, his co-chair, Angolan Planning Minister Ana Dias Lourenco, denied this and said the EU text had been rejected by SADC as a whole.

The EU took the precaution of circulating a brief statement of its position on Zimbabwe. This expressed deep concern at "the violations of human rights and the restrictions on the media, as well as the deteriorating economic situation, caused largely by the policies of the Zimbabwean authorities".

There was no equivalent statement from SADC. Lourenco claimed the SADC position on Zimbabwe was "well known", and called for a renewed dialogue between the EU and Zimbabwe. "Our objective is to re-establish relations between Zimbabwe and the EU", she said. She claimed that the disagreement over Zimbabwe did not affect the rest of the meeting, nor did she expect it to affect the overall level of SADC/EU cooperation. (AIM Maputo)


Further reports on SADC/EU Ministerial and NGO conferences.

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