The Herald (Harare)

28 March 2014

Africa: EU Keen to Have Africa at Summit

Photo: Bobby Hiddy/Flickr
European Union.

The European Union yesterday made a plea to African governments not to boycott next week's EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium.

EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Aldo Dell'Ariccia said a lot had been invested in preparing for the Summit of 64 Heads of State and Government.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said permanent representatives to the African Union had already informed their principals of the Peace and Security Council's decision to boycott the summit if the EU insisted on interfering with the composition of the continental delegation.

AU members have asked why Eritrea and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic have not been invited when they are full members of the bloc. At the same time, the EU has invited Morocoo - which ceased being a member in 1984 because Africa opposed its colonisation of SADR - and Egypt, which remains suspended following a military coup last year.

The EU also initially sent an invitation to Zimbabwe but not to President Mugabe. A personal invitation to President Mugabe only came when he was elected the AU's First Deputy Chair and the continent threatened to boycott the summit if he was not present.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has also not been invited but an "invite" was sent to his country, because there is an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for him.

The AU has resolved not to co-operate with any attempt to haul a sitting Head of State before the ICC.

Yesterday Ambassador Dell'Ariccia said, "The African Union, the African continent should consider this summit important and we hope that it will proceed considering there are also coming events that are important.

"I can tell you at present that these recommendations of course came as a surprise, we have to see how things follow from there. The preparations of the Summit will continue as normal. If there is a decision on the side of the African Union to postpone the event, then we will see the reaction of the European Union."

Minister Mumbengegwi said Africa was expected to endorse the PSC's decision.

"The EU has no right whatsoever to interfere in any way in the composition of the African Union delegation let alone the composition of individual members of the African Union.

"This, they have done against the decision of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa in January (that all members be invited).

"All the ambassadors in Addis Abba have reported to their capitals and the capitals are going to respond to the recommendation of the Permanent Representatives Council that until such time that there is agreement between the two sides that there is sovereign equality between the two sides and therefore none of the two sides should dictate to the other as to who may or may not attend that summit. Until there is agreement and understanding on that score then the summit should stand postponed.

"The capitals should not have any other option but to endorse that recommendation because it is consistent with the decision taken by the Heads of State and Government themselves in January."

Africa, Minister Mumbengegwi said, should re-consider its relations with the EU until Europe treats the continent as an equal.

"Africa should say no. If all the capitals or the overwhelming majority of the capitals reaffirm the decision that they took in January then this Summit should be postponed and then the EU will be in a position to respect us much better," he said.

Ambassador Dell'Ariccia said he remained hopeful that the Summit would go ahead.

"Mobilising 64 Heads of State and Government is a complicated situation and if the proposal to adjourn or postpone succeeds, then I am not sure if it will be easy to find another date that will be suitable for the Summit. This is of course something that can be decided at the highest level," he said.

"We know that this has been a recommendation of the African Union Peace and Security Council to the chair of the African Union. There is specific sequence of the events that have to happen in order for this information to be transmitted to the EU. At the moment it is just the recommendations which are not engaging and it is not binding," he said.

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