Monday, March 12, 2012

European Union Invites Zimbabwe for Dialogue

EU invites Zim for dialogue

Monday, 12 March 2012 00:00
Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

THE European Union has invited Zimbabwe to resume re-engagement talks to explore ways of normalising relations.

The dialogue is expected to resume end of this month or early next month.

The invitation comes at a time the European bloc has removed some individuals and companies from its illegal sanctions regime.

Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha last week told The Herald that Zimbabwe was only waiting for an invitation from the EU.

In an interview last Friday, EU Head of Delegation in Zimbabwe Ambassador Aldo Dell’ Ariccia said they had since sent an invitation to the Government. He said the invitation was contained in a letter submitted to President Mugabe on February 17.

Ambassador Dell’ Ariccia said the EU embassy in Harare had proposed dates for re-engagement meetings convenient to both sides. He said the dates had already been forwarded to the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium for consideration.

“We have proposed dates that we have since transmitted to the EU headquarters in Brussels. We have tried to find dates that are suitable for ministers here and those in Brussels. The dialogue is set to resume end of March or early next month,” he said.

Ambassador Dell’ Ariccia said the EU was committed to the dialogue and finding a lasting solution to the decade-long impasse between Harare, London and Brussels.

Zimbabwe’s re-engagement team met last week to chat the way forward in view of EU’s latest commitment to resume the dialogue.

Ambassador Bimha said Minister Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs) chaired the meeting.

“The re-engagement ministers met on Wednesday to chat the way forward. Minister Mumbengegwi chaired the meeting.

Zimbabwe stands ready to engage the EU and we are only waiting for an invitation from Catherine Ashton (EU head of foreign affairs and security policy).

Although Ambassador Bimha could not disclose details of the meeting, it is understood that it was agreed that the EU should unconditionally lift the illegal sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe in their entirety.

This followed selective lifting of the embargo by the EU.

“It was agreed that the illegal sanctions should be lifted in their totality. There is no justification for the EU to maintain sanctions on some individuals and companies,” said a source.

The EU last month de-listed 51 people and 20 companies on its sanctions list.

The European bloc also suspended a visa ban on Ministers Mumbengegwi and Patrick Chinamasa who are part of Zimbabwe’s re-engagement team.

Minister Chinamasa was detained several times at Frankfurt Airport in Germany on his way to Brussels for the re-engagement dialogue.

However, the EU extended illegal sanctions on the remaining people and companies for another six months.

The EU imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe to influence the outcome of the 2002 presidential elections won by President Mugabe.

The illegal sanctions received condemnation from progressive forces across the world including the African Union, Sadc and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Zimbabweans last year signed Anti-Sanctions Petition Forms to register their displeasure on the continuation of the embargo.

Over 2 million signatures were gathered during the National Anti-Sanctions Petition Campaign last year.

Government recently said the signatures were now being converted into electronic form.

The sanctions were imposed illegally by the EU and the United States as they were imposed outside the United Nations.

In case of the EU, the sanctions were imposed in violation of the Cotonou Agreement that governs relations between African Carribean and Pacific countries.

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