The Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, 21.09.12
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, met today at the Foreign Ministry, with the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The South African Minister is on a one-day official visit to Cyprus at the invitation of her Cypriot counterpart.
Bilateral relations, the Cyprus problem, EU-South Africa relations, the developments in the Middle East and Africa, as well as multilateral issues were among the subjects of discussion during today’s meeting. Following the meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Political Consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and South Africa was signed by the two Ministers.
In her statements to the media, the Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed her happiness for the South African Minister’s visit to Cyprus, “the first Foreign Minister of South Africa to visit Cyprus since our independence in 1960”, expressing confidence that it will serve as a springboard for augmenting and widening the ties between the two countries and peoples.
Referring to the historical ties between the people of Cyprus and South Africa, the Foreign Minister noted that this is reflected in the active cooperation of the two countries in the Commonwealth and the United Nations. As she said, “Cyprus, as a leading member of the Non Aligned Movement from 1960 to 2004, had joined the international struggle to eradicate apartheid and was particularly active on the side of the African National Congress and the South African people. We are proud that our efforts, along with the efforts of the rest of the international community, resulted in the abolition of apartheid and the emergence of a free and democratic South Africa following the elections of April 1994.” She also praised the former South African President Nelson Mandela and the other great South African leaders, noting that they remain an inspiration for all of us for freedom and democracy.
The Minister added that the people of South Africa have been very close in the hearts of Cypriots also due to the prolific Cypriot South African Community that lives and works there, “a community fully integrated in the South African society and contributing to its social, economic and multicultural development. Their presence guarantees the continuation and excellence of our bilateral friendship”.
As she said, she is delighted that during today’s meeting, decisive steps have been taken to deepen the institutional framework of the bilateral relations through the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Political Consultations that provides for regular consultations on important bilateral and multilateral issues. Furthermore, they discussed ways to diversify the bilateral relations to include fields such as Business and Trade, Education, Research and Development, as well as Tourism.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, Dr Kozakou-Marcoullis said she had briefed her South African counterpart on the latest developments of the Cyprus problem, “which remains an issue of foreign military occupation and massive violation of the human rights of Cypriots, resulting from the divisive, segregationist and racist policies of the occupying power”. “It would be an omission not to make a specific mention on the principled stance of South Africa on the Cyprus problem and express our sincere gratitude for the valuable and principled support granted throughout the years in all international fora.”
She also noted that the accession of Cyprus in the EU has given a new perspective to our multifaceted strategic relationship with South Africa and she assured her counterpart that Cyprus strongly supports the further strengthening of the South African – EU relations, based on the strategic partnership that was reaffirmed by the successful EU-SA summit that took place on 18 September 2012.
During their talks, the Cypriot Foreign Minister also had the opportunity to be briefed on the very instrumental mediation efforts and initiatives that South Africa has been carrying out in resolving several conflicts and challenges in the African continent, including in the area of maritime security, in particular piracy which is of utmost importance to the maritime nation of Cyprus.
In addition, they exchanged views on the events unfolding in the Southern Neighborhood, with a special focus on Syria, and shared their deep concern over the dramatic situation in the country and the need to bring an end to the spiral of violence that has resulted in the loss of thousands of innocent civilian lives. “We reiterated our full support to the UN – League of Arab States Joint Representative for Syria, Mr Brahimi, in bringing an end to the fighting, finding a negotiated solution to the crisis and supporting a political solution towards a free and democratic Syria, through a united action by the international community and the UN Security Council,” Dr Kozakou-Marcoullis noted.
Finally, the Foreign Minister said that there is a mutual concern that the outbursts of sectarian conflict will have a spillover effect on the entire region, with unpredictable humanitarian and security challenges.
On her part, the South African Minister expressed her happiness for being in Cyprus and thanked the Foreign Minister for this “historic visit”, at a time when Cyprus is holding the Presidency of the Council of the EU. She also conveyed the warm and fraternal greetings of the people of South Africa and the government which is led by the African National Congress, “the oldest political movement on African soil, that this year celebrates its 100-year anniversary”.
The South African Minister noted that today’s deliberations were conducted in a very friendly and cordial manner, during which they had the opportunity to reiterate their gratitude for all the support given to them by Cyprus practically and morally, and in various multilateral fora, including the Non Aligned Movement and the UN.
Referring to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said that this agreement seeks to promote political, economic and social cooperation. As she noted, social cooperation between the two countries began informally by people-to-people contact during the anti-Apartheid struggle, adding that now more than 60.000 Cypriots call both Cyprus and South Africa, “home”.
As regards the Cyprus problem, the South African Foreign Minister stated that South Africa consistently supported the need for a peaceful negotiated settlement and the UN-led peace talks throughout. “The South African Government has supported the relevant UN resolutions on Cyprus. South Africa specifically supported the actions of the UN and its Secretary-General, as well as the initiatives by the Commonwealth, the Non Aligned Movement and the EU towards a peaceful negotiated solution to end the division of this historic island,” noted the Minister, adding that they are unshaken in their resolve to stick to this politically progressive and very well known position that Africa holds.
Referring to the cooperation of the two countries and the EU-South African relations, she stated that they know that with Cyprus, they have a very good, dependable and reliable partner in the EU.
Referring also to the cooperation opportunities in the business and trade sector, the South African Minister said that Cyprus due to its strategic geographic location could become a springboard for South African businesses that want to activate in the region. She also noted that South Africa could be a springboard for Cypriots who would want to take advantage of business opportunities in the African continent.
Finally, the South African Minister invited Dr Kozakou-Marcoullis to visit her country, in order to take this relationship forward, and she expressed the hope that they will continue their consultations on the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly. She also reiterated her country’s support to Cyprus and thanked the Cypriot people for its support for the freedom of the African people.