BY LORRAINE MUROMO
ZIMBABWE yesterday appealed to the European Union (EU) to remove sanctions, which it says have continued to hinder development and caused the economic meltdown.
This came out during the EU-Zimbabwe political dialogue with the Foreign Affairs ministry, which was held in Harare yesterday.
Foreign Affairs minister Frederick Shava told journalists after the closed-door meeting that there was need for the EU to remove the sanctions to enable bilateral relations and trade between Harare and EU-member countries to continue unhindered.
The country has been under United States and EU sanctions since the late former President Robert Mugabe’s rule for failure to respect the rule of law and human rights. The situation has not changed even with the coming in of the new dispensation.
“Zimbabwe noted with regret that the EU continues to renew sanctions. Of course they say they are not sanctions but restrictive measures, but to us they are sanctions,” Shava said.
“This sustains a negative spotlight on the country. We call for the unconditional removal of these sanctions — of these restrictive measures so that the message reaches the EU clearly.”
Shava said the country was more than willing to ensure that it was back in good books with the EU and looked forward to more engagements.
“Most importantly, Zimbabwe renewed its commitment to re-engagement efforts as far as our relations with the EU are concerned.”
EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen said the dialogue had presented both parties with an opportunity to engage on all issues. He said the EU was equally aware of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
“We are concerned about the shrinking democratic space, lack of progress in addressing all sorts of human rights violations by security forces, and lack of thorough investigation of cases of forced disappearances. We had a detailed discussion and we got information from the side of the government.”
Olkkonen emphasised that the EU was thoroughly committed in helping the country with bilateral trade relations and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
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