EU meeting not about sanctions

A meeting this week between Zimbabwe government officials and the European Union (EU) was unlikely to dwell only on the targeted sanctions still in place against the Robert Mugabe regime, but focus on ‘trust building’.

Patrick Chinamasa
Patrick Chinamasa

The meeting was set for Thursday in Brussels with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton and a three member Zim government delegation, including Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Energy Minister Elton Mangoma and Regional Integration Minister Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga.

ZANU PF said earlier this week that the talks should focus on the lifting of the ‘shopping sanctions’, which the party insists are an illegal measure and constantly blame for the downfall of the country. Party spokesman Rugare Gumbo said this that “discussion on the political relations between Zimbabwe and the EU should only come after the first issue (sanctions) has been resolved."

But the EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell'Ariccia said on the eve of the talks that discussions will be aimed at ‘building trust and confidence’ between Zim and the EU. Dell'Ariccia told journalists on Wednesday that the EU hoped to begin serious political dialogue with Zimbabwe to restore relations.

"The meeting should enhance our common understanding and help build the trust and confidence needed on both sides to move forward," he said.

He added: "The EU is keen to engage in a serious political dialogue with Zimbabwe. We trust that the meeting between the Zimbabwean Ministerial Re-engagement team and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, and taking place on May 10 in Brussels will be constructive and pave the way for a process towards normalised relations."

The EU in February this year removed a visa ban and asset freeze on 51 individuals on the list of targeted restrictive measures, to encourage “further progress” of political reforms in Zimbabwe. This was quickly followed by a similar show from the Australian government, which dropped its version of restrictive Zim sanctions against 82 people on its list. Both countries have said that more political reforms need to be witnessed before the measures are further relaxed. – SW Radio Africa News

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