Re-engagement a two-way process, says ambassador

Contrary to Zanu (PF)’s claims that the onus is on the European Union to re-engage with Zimbabwe, the Australian government has said that re-engagement should be a two-way process that can only succeed if both parties are willing to mend relations.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean, the Australian ambassador to Zimbabwe, Matthew Neuhaus said both Zanu (PF) and the EU had a role to play in restoring political and economic ties.

“I think re-engagement is about both sides. When you shake hands with someone, you move together and I think that is the position the EU will take. So re-engagement, by its name, means that both sides have to move,” said Neuhaus.

Zanu (PF) is on record saying that the EU should take the initiative in re-engaging Zimbabwe by removing the restrictive measures imposed on the country.

In August last year, EU head of delegation to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell Ariccia, told The Zimbabwean that the continental bloc was ready to re-engage with Zimbabwe but said this would depend on the message coming from the Zanu (PF) government.

Neuhaus expressed optimism about the future of Australian-Zimbabwean relations, saying that his country was prepared to assist Zimbabwe in training health personnel.

“I am very optimistic about the future of the bilateral relations. The relations between the governments are improving,” he said. “We are working on the continued training of Zimbabwean health personnel and some of them will be working in Zimbabwe while others will get opportunities overseas, but the objective is for them to work in Zimbabwe.”

He implored the Zimbabwean government to observe peace, which he said was a pre-requisite for development.

Neuhaus said that after the July 31 elections, a number of Zimbabweans who had fled to Australia over the years were now coming back to their country; a development he said was welcome.

“I think we are seeing change here in Zimbabwe and we hope we are going to be seeing more of that. But I think what is important is to have peace. We had reservations about the election results, but at least they were peaceful.

“It is important that everything is done peacefully and constitutionally,” said Neuhaus.

In May last year, Australia announced the easing of targeted sanctions against 65 individuals and three entities in Zimbabwe.

The move, according to Australia’s foreign minister, Bob Carr, was aimed at encouraging further democratic reforms in Zimbabwe.

President Robert Mugabe and 32 other people are still on Australia’s targeted sanctions list.

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