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Zim remains important to EU: envoy

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European Union ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldor Dell Ariccia says Zimbabwe is an important country to the bloc hence the efforts to re-engage and restore normal relations with the country.

Speaking at a public debate on sanctions on Tuesday, Ariccia said the bloc was interested in assisting the inclusive government to enable it to consolidate the positive gains so far achieved.

“Our plan is to re-engage the country towards the restoration of relations,” said Ariccia.

“It is our desire to ensure parties to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) returns the country on the path of development.”

He said the EU was Zimbabwe’s second largest trading partner after South Africa.

Dialogue between Zimbabwe and the EU to explore ways of normalising relations between the two sides resumed in July this year.

Relations between Zimbabwe and the EU have remained frosty in the last 10 years.

Western countries argue President Robert Mugabe has not done enough to honour the power-sharing agreement and to restore law and order and bring about sweeping democratic reforms.

Ariccia said the targeted sanctions were not to blame for the economic collapse which hit the country over the years.

“There is no direct impact on the overall performance of the economy. What you have are certain businesses not being able to conduct business,” he said.

The other discussant at the event Tafataona Mahoso said sanctions were not entirely to blame for the collapse of the economy as there are other contributory factors such as corruption.

“The economy is like a river. Sanctions are like putting poison in the river,” said Mahoso.

Mugabe accuses Western countries of maintaining sanctions on the country for their personal benefit and to advance a regime change agenda.

Whilst acknowledging that there has been some progress made since the formation of the inclusive government in February 2009, the EU believes Zimbabwe has not done enough in implementing the GPA and respecting the rule of law.

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