The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: We Won't Interfere in Zim Poll - EU

THE European Union will not interfere with Zimbabwe's electoral processes this time because relations between Harare and Brussels have improved, an EU diplomat has said. EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Aldo Dell'Ariccia said there was no need for EU members to be meddlesome.

"I consider the relationship between the EU bloc countries and Zimbabwe is positive as of now. The EU has taken several steps in re-engaging Zimbabwe and several people were taken off the economic measures that did not permit trade with Zimbabwe," Ambassador Dell'Ariccia said.

"In July the measures that did not permit to have bilateral co-operation (with Zimbabwe) were suspended. We are progressing as agreed with the re-engagement with the committee on Zimbabwe.

"We really hope all efforts will be done to conclude the constitutional process and take all necessary steps for the progression of credible and peaceful elections that complete a normal relationship.

"It is a commitment Zimbabweans have taken themselves in the GPA and it is something the facilitator (Sadc-appointed South Africa) is asking for as well," he said.

EU members will meet next February to review the illegal economic sanctions they imposed on Zimbabwe as part of group solidarity with Britain in the wake of the fallout out over the land reform programme.

The EU seized on the expulsion of the head of its observer mission to the 2002 presidential election, Pierre Schori, to impose a ruinous economic sanctions regime.

The positive developments on the ground, observers say, are likely to influence the EU's new position.

Ambassador Dell'Ariccia said President Mugabe's speech at the just-ended Zanu-PF 13th Annual National Peoples Conference in Gweru meant the country was progressing positively.

"As diplomats, we were invited to the opening of the conference and President Mugabe always surprises everybody. This year President Mugabe's speech was different and was purely that of a party leader speaking to his people.

"He focused on issues which are internal and in my view it was remarkable. He also asked all veterans to stick together and denounced corruption. This time it was different because we have been used to certain types of presentations from him," Ambassador Dell'Ariccia said.

While on Star FM on Monday, the ambassador spoke about the Nobel Peace Prize the EU won recently.

The EU was handed the prize on Monday in Oslo, Norway for "promoting peace and human rights in Europe following the World War II", and the bloc was urged to use that unity in its battle with an economic crisis that is causing suffering for many of its citizens.

The bloc got the prize, amid demonstrations, despite some its members such as France having been accused of funding wars and effecting illegal regime change in North Africa.

In defence, Ambassador Dell'Ariccia said the decisions to move into those countries were taken after United Nations resolutions despite the fact that UN Resolution 1973 was passed to effect a no-fly zone over Libya per se.

"The Libyan case is absolutely not an EU issue since the action was decided at the level of the UN.

"It was a UN and AU resolution and decisions were taken at an international level.

"The fact that the country (Libya) is going from bad to worse I think we should ask the people to say what they think about the repression."

He admitted that the Nobel Peace Prize for peace with prize money of US$1,2 million and handed to the EU was a surprise to many people at a time when there was a crisis in EU.

"We would not be discouraged by the negative criticism and the prize is a reminder of what the EU stands for which is to transform war-torn continent into a peaceful continent. The prize is not always given to an individual, but non-governmental organisations like Amnesty International.

Asked to comment on remarks by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa that former US President Mr George W Bush and former British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair be brought before the International Court of Justice for crimes against humanity, he said: "I do not think there is a need to comment on what has been said by Mr Tutu. He says things on facts he knows."

The International Criminal Court has been abused by the West and since its inception only suspects from the developing world have appeared before it.

About 20 European government leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Premier Mario Monti, attended the ceremony in Oslo, an oil-rich country that has twice rejected joining the EU.

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso received the prize from Norwegian Premier Jens Stoltenberg.

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