The agenda for the dialogue included issues around economic development, trade and investment, human rights and democratisation, rule of law and good governance, development cooperation, climate change and humanitarian impact and global and regional cooperation.
At the meeting Zimbabwe and the EU discussed the illegal sanctions that have been imposed on the country, political reforms and economic reforms.
The meeting was a follow up to the first formal dialogue meeting that was held at officials’ level in June 2019 which was led by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Secretary, Ambassador James Manzou.
During a press conference after the meeting, EU Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ambassador Timo Olkkonen said the bloc was willing to discuss more financial aid to the country next year.
Ambassador Timo Olkkonen further stated that Zimbabwe has an important role to play in the negotiations between the EU and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries on the successor agreement of the Cotonou Agreement.
The EU Ambassador said next year, they will also discuss the bloc’s future financial engagement with Zimbabwe against the backdrop of the general situation in the country.
The EU-Zimbabwe relations went sour when the country embarked on the land reform exercise in the early 2000’s and this led the bloc to cut direct assistance to the Government and imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002.
The European bloc has since relaxed its position from 2015 when it resumed providing development aid, mainly through development partners.
During yesterday’s meeting, Ambassador Olkkonen said they had provided US$320 million in humanitarian and development assistance to Zimbabwe.
He also said there were ongoing negotiations to conclude a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Eastern and Southern African countries.
Further, the EU and Zimbabwe, together with four Eastern and Southern African partners Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles and agreed to launch negotiations to extend the scope of EPA beyond the trade in goods to a more comprehensive partnership covering both trade and related areas such as investment and sustainable development.
The formal dialogue is now an integral part of the relations between the EU and the Republic of Zimbabwe in the sense of Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement and the dialogue provides a platform to exchange views on topics that are of common interest and identify areas where the relations can be improved.
“The EU wishes to support Zimbabwe’s political and economic reform agenda. Urgent political and economic reforms, including the fight against corruption are indeed necessary for the benefit of Zimbabwean people.
The reforms which Zimbabwe has undertaken can pave the way for a further strengthening of relations between Zimbabwe and the EU based on shared values, the respect of human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.
In his remarks after the meeting, Acting Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister July Moyo said: “This was the first ministerial meeting that we have held with the EU and we discussed issues that have to do with our relations in many areas and this type of dialogue will augur well as we move forward.
“We have urged the EU that they can assist us by removing the sanctions or talking to other people who continue to have sanctions against us and they indicated that they have removed most of the sanctions they have against us.
“For Zimbabwe, the elevation of the dialogue to ministerial level demonstrates the Government’s commitment to strengthen cooperation between Zimbabwe and the EU and the progress that the Government is making in its engagement and re-engagement agenda,” said Minister Moyo.
Zimbabwe’s delegation included Deputy Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Hon David Musabayana, Finance and Economic Development Deputy Minister, Hon. Clemence Chiduwa, Foreign Affairs Secretary, Ambassador James Manzou and several permanent secretaries, senior government officials and diplomats.
The EU delegation included Ambassador Olkkonen and 10 ambassadors from Romania, Finland, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Greece, Czech Republic and Italy.