Zimbabwe-EU dialogue goes to ministerial level

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen

HARARE – The re-engagement policy being driven by President Mnangagwa will reach a milestone next week when the second session of the Zimbabwe and European Union (EU) formal political dialogue is elevated to the ministerial level.

 The elevation of the dialogue shows progress that is being made by the two sides in finding each other, and the importance that they attach to the re-engagement process.

The meeting will take place in Harare, coming after the first formal meeting between the two sides in about 17 years was held on June 5 this year at the level of officials. 

The June 5 meeting was co-chaired by Foreign Affairs and International Trade permanent secretary Ambassador James Manzou and EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen. 

But next week, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo will take over from Ambassador Manzou and co-chair the meeting with Ambassador Olkkonen.

The meeting will focus on areas of cooperation between the two parties.

The dialogue is in line with Government’s re-engagement policy, which aims at re-establishing relations with all countries that had stopped formal dialogue with Harare in the last decade.

 In a statement yesterday, Ambassador Manzou said: “Following the successful launch on 5 June 2019 of the formal political dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the second session of the dialogue will be held in Harare on 21 November 2019. 

“The meeting will include the participation of the Ministries of Finance and Economic Development and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on the Zimbabwean side and the Heads of Mission of EU member States accredited to Zimbabwe on the EU side.”

Ambassador Manzou said a number of co-operation areas and objectives would be discussed.

“Discussion will focus on priorities, shared objectives and areas of co-operation between the two parties in the areas of economic development, trade and investment, human rights, democratisation, rule of law and good governance, development cooperation, humanitarian impact and climate change and global and regional partnership,” he said.

“The escalation of the second session of the formal political dialogue to ministerial level demonstrates progress in the Government’s engagement and re-engagement agenda, as well as commitment to strengthening co-operation between Zimbabwe and the EU.” 

Zimbabwe and the EU have endured strained relations in the past two decades and the dialogue process is expected to boost the country’s efforts to revive the economy through cooperation in various fields.

In his remarks at the June 5 meeting, Ambassador Manzou said re-engagement with the EU was one of President Mnangagwa’s top foreign policy priorities. 

He said Government was making significant strides in carrying out various political and economic reforms, which are critical in the attainment of Vision 2030 of an upper middle income economy.

Ambassador Olkkonen said then that the discussions offered a platform for a frank exchange of views and building of a relationship as partners.

He said the dialogue would be an integral part of the relationship between the two parties in future.

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