EU happy to engage Zimbabwe

Timo Olkkonen
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HARARE – The European Union (EU) is happy to dialogue with Zimbabwe and is looking forward to scaling up engagement through discussing areas of divergence.

This was said by EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Timo Olkkonen after leading a delegation of EU envoys accredited in Zimbabwe to meeting with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava at his offices in Harare.

This thawing of relations between Zimbabwe and Europe could further give impetus to Zimbabwe’s engagement and re-engagement drive.

Zimbabwe’s differences with other key international agencies like the United States of America are largely as a result of its differences with the EU and the United Kingdom.

Ambassador Olkkonen and envoys from other European States this week met Amb Shava ahead of next week’s sixth European Union — African Union summit in Brussels.

“We are certainly happy that we have our political dialogue going and that we can discuss with the Zimbabwean and Government also about issues we were disagreeing with and also that we can have an honest and frank discussion.

“This readiness from the Zimbabwean side to engage on these topics and of course topics which are less controversial but equally important such as economic cooperation and free trade, the environmental agenda,” said Amb Olkkonen.

Of the meeting he said: “This was a very important meeting, we had a meeting with the Foreign Minister Hon Shava together with European union member states represented here in Zimbabwe. “The primary focus of our meeting today were to discuss the preparations for the EU summit taking place on the 17th and 18th of February that is next week in Brussels.

“We are hoping to make progress on the Africa, Europe relations. Zimbabwe views and expectations vis-à-vis that summit was a very good and interesting discussion,” said Amb Olkkonen.

Ambassador Shava noted that from the discussions there appeared to share the same viewpoints.

“Every year, every week, every day – Zimbabwe continues to make great strides in re-engaging with the world,” said Amb Shava.

“As we prepare to go to the AU-EU summit in Brussels, it was a pleasure to speak with Ambassadors from nine European nations on how our people can work together. It appears we are reading from the same page and that is good for humanity.”

President Mnangagwa is expected to lead the country’s delegation to Belgium next week. – Herald