SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated he has been asked to be involved in mediation effort in the Russia-Ukraine conflict because it was the only way to achieve peace and stability in the region.
Ramaphosa said he would like to talk to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky after he had talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week.
He said the position of South Africa was clear and that was not to take sides in the conflict because if it did it would lead to the closure of the space to talk to these countries to find peace.
He said South Africa, many years ago played a similar role when he was asked by then British prime minister Tony Blair to mediate in the conflict in Northern Ireland with former Finnish president Marti Ahtisaari.
That led to the signing of the Good Friday agreement in Belfast in the late 1990s.
“I am pleased to hear from Putin himself that there are negotiations in progress.
“We want to hear on those negotiations and mediation.
“I have also said I would like to speak to the president of Ukraine,” said Ramaphosa.
He said South Africa was approached to intervene in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“I said in my statement we are ready to play a role.
“We played an important role in the Northern Ireland conflict,” said Ramaphosa.
He said South Africa stood for peace and would like both parties to continue talking to find durable peace.
However, Ramaphosa also spoke out against the UN saying the UN Security Council (UNSC) needed to be reformed.
He said Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion people, did not have a permanent seat in the UNSC.
“The UNSC needs to be overhauled so that there is a mechanism to resolve disputes,” said Ramaphosa.
He said UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres already called for a ceasefire in Ukraine.
This was a starting point that would allow both sides to reach an agreement.
South Africa would urge all parties to come to the table and that is the position they maintain, said Ramaphosa. – IOL