DIRCO dismisses reports on tense relationship between SA and EU

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has denied allegations of strained relations between South Africa and the European Union (EU).

This follows certain media reports that alleged that South Africa did not respond to the EU’s requests for a high-level summit, leading to speculation about tensions between the two sides.

There were also allegations in some media that South Africa reportedly ignored the request for an EU summit for a year.

However, DIRCO and the delegation of the EU to South Africa said they ‘regret the misrepresentation’ made by the media outlets.

‘We would like to reject the claim made by these media outlets that the Republic of South Africa has not responded to several requests by the European Union to hold a bilateral South Africa-European Union Summit during 2023,’ the statement read.

On the contrary, the department said South Africa and the EU have maintained a regular exchange throughout 2023 to prepare for their bilateral summit.

This includes a Minist
erial Forum in South Africa in January 2023, bilateral contacts at the Heads of State level, and ministerial visits to both Pretoria and Brussels.

The department believes that those contacts have been intensified and strengthened since the beginning of 2024 through a Bilateral Meeting between Minister Naledi Pandor and High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles on the margins of the G20 Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brazil.

According to the department, the relations have also been reinforced by Deputy Minister Alvin Botes’s visit to Brussels to participate in the Indo-Pacific Forum and the visit of EU Ambassadors from the Political and Security Committee to Pretoria.

The Director-General of the DIRCO, Zane Dangor, hosted the Bilateral Political and Security Dialogue Forum and the Human Rights Dialogue, along with his counterparts from the European Union (EU) in Pretoria.

He also participated in the Minister’s meeting with EU Ambassadors in Cape Town.

The department said that it was in this
context that they reject the claim made by the media outlets that the delays to the summit are sending a negative signal about future relations between the EU and South Africa.

‘The above-mentioned regular high-level visits and engagements illustrate the strength, depth and wide-range scope of the strategic partnership between the European Union and South Africa.

‘Against this backdrop of partnership and dialogue, and in a decisive year for democracy and multilateralism across the world, South Africa and the European Union continue to work closely together and, as part of it, to identify a suitable date for their bilateral summit,’ the department explained.

Ambassador of the EU to South Africa, Sandra Kramer, also took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to dismiss the allegations.

‘This is false and misleading indeed. South Africa and the EU are working closely towards holding a summit. A quick check-in with me or @Zwandid [Zane Dangor] would have confirmed that for you,’ she added.

Source: South African
Government News Agency

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