Zimbabwe: EU Told to Lift Sanctions
Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2007
Lift sanctions, create right context for dialogue, EU told
The Herald, News Editor
May 10, 2007
The European Union says it is still willing to have dialogue with Zimbabwe but the Government wants EU sanctions lifted before any talks.
Head of the European Commission in Zimbabwe Mr Xavier Marchal — in a speech to mark Europe Day in Harare yesterday — said the grouping remains willing to carry out dialogue with Zimbabwe "aimed at making progress towards a situation where the resumption of full co-operation becomes possible."
But in response, Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joey Bimha said the EU should lift the sanctions and create the right context for dialogue.
"Zimbabwe has never refused to engage in dialogue.
"However, I should point out that dialogue takes place within a specific context where neither party sets benchmarks for the other, a context where neither party imposes punitive measures against the other and a context where objective criteria are applied as opposed to double standards and the shifting of goal posts.
"In that regard, the EU should help create the right context for dialogue by removing its sanctions against Zimbabwe," Mr Bimha said.
He said both Zimbabwe and the EU had much to gain from a normalisation of relations and Harare welcomed the blocís decision to embrace the stance taken by Sadc regarding the Zimbabwean issue.
Sadc leaders recently called for the lifting of the sanctions and urged Britain to pay compensation to farmers whose farms were acquired for resettlement.
They also undertook to assist Zimbabwe overcome the crippling economic sanctions.
"As you are aware, the (Sadc) communique offered a full package for helping Zimbabwe meet its current challenges.
"We therefore hope that by embracing this regional initiative, the EU has embraced the whole package as outlined in the Sadc communique."
Mr Marchal said he was supportive of internal dialogue in Zimbabwe.
"I feel very strongly that internal dialogue between all Zimbabweans can succeed, and further challenges addressed, only in a violence free environment, in which everyone is treated humanely, and which clearly does not exist today. I strongly encourage the urgent way forward towards such an environment," he said.
Ambassador Bimha said Government abhors violence and believed that in a democratic society people should pursue their political objectives by non-violent means.
"Violence should therefore be condemned by all whenever it rears its ugly head irrespective of who perpetrates it.
"However, serious questions are being raised when certain sections of the community remain sacrosanct from criticism when there is overwhelming evidence of violence on their part," he said.
Ambassador Bimha said the same yardstick should be used to ensure consistency and objectivity when judging.
"The absence of the objectivity is the missing link in the Zimbabwean equation."
MDC faction leaders Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Arthur Mutambara, National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku and several senior opposition leaders and MPs from both camps were in attendance.