PRETORIA,- The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Friday said he hoped South Africa would use its good relations with Russia to convince it to stop the war in Ukraine.
“The EU isn’t asking South Africa to choose sides, just asking countries across the world to stand with the UN Charter,” said Borrell, speaking alongside South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor in the capital Pretoria.
The EU considers South Africa an important partner in the rules-based international order, he added.
Pandor said: “It is not just South Africa and other African countries that must play a role at seeking peace.”
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor on Friday hosted a high-level European Union delegation led by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, who is also Vice President of the European Commission.
It has been an unusually busy week at Pandor’s ministry in Pretoria. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is still in South Africa, where she is meeting different government officials.
Yellen arrived on Tuesday, a day after Pretoria hosted Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
On Tuesday as well, Pandor hosted her counterpart, Greece’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias, on the occasion of his working visit to South Africa.
On Friday, Pandor and Borell co-chaired the 15th South Africa-European Union Ministerial Political Dialogue in Pretoria.
Present with Pandor at the meeting with the high-level EU delegation were Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel and Deputy Health Minister Sibongiseni Dlomo.
Pandor said the South African government appreciated the support the EU provided for development cooperation in South Africa.
“The support is closely aligned to our National Development Plan. I also appreciate the European Union’s support to South Africa and our continent during the pandemic, as well as the new support to BioVac, our vaccine production company and the mRNA Vaccine Tech Transfer hub.”
She said the two sides would use the deliberations to explore ways of heightening existing two-way trade, and expanding investment and the current bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
In his opening statement, Borrell said it was a “great pleasure” to chair the meeting in Pretoria.
“Since our last Ministerial Dialogue in July 2020, as you have said Minister (Pandor) the world has changed quite dramatically. We are facing an unprecedented level of global instability, with all challenges yet to be sufficiently addressed, and for the new challenges creating more global and increasingly dangerous tensions that face all of us,” he said.
“Our international system has been tested to the core, and those of us that believe in the international rule of law must do much more to defend it. I am sure that putting together our efforts, we will do it.”
Speaking of the war between Russia and Ukraine, Borrell said the conflict was a wake-up call for countries in the EU, particularly on their defence policies.
“We see this even more in our external relations, where we understand the absolute necessity of forging new initiatives and new alliances. I am pleased that in this shaky geopolitical environment, the strategic partnership between South Africa and European Union has been moving along through a positive trajectory, despite some irritants,” he said.
“You are our main trading partner in Africa, the volume of your exports to the European Union has been increasing, and European Union companies continue to represent a large part of your overall Foreign Direct Investment. We are the first trading partner, and the first investor in South Africa.”
He said the EU is fully committed to support South Africa’s “just energy transition” towards a greener and cleaner energy source.
South Africa is one of ten countries in the world that has a Strategic Partnership with the European Union (EU), according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
The SA-EU Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan, which was signed in Brussels in May 2007, provides for regular engagements at different levels, including a Joint Cooperation Council (JCC) at senior officials’ level, the Ministerial Political Dialogue, and a summit at presidential level.