Lisbon, 9 December - "We won’t allow Mugabe to dictate our relations with Africa. We won’t let Mugabe exert influence that is not due to him. We should not inflate his importance but treat him for what he is: an aging dictator hanging on to outdated ideologies who has ruined his country by mismanagement, riding roughshod over human rights and democracy," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the sidelines of the EU-Africa summit.
"This EU-Africa summit, in particular, and the solid and comprehensive partnership between our neighbouring continents is a counterweight to Mugabe’s populist, anti-Western and anti-European propaganda," continued Plassnik.
The Foreign Minister welcomed the clear words expressed by the European side with regard to the intolerable situation in Zimbabwe: "It is necessary that we address problems for what they are. But it is also correct that we have not allowed the relations between the EU and Africa to be taken hostage by Mugabe. The EU is a friend of Zimbabwe and its people, it contributes the lion’s share of the country’s development aid, and there are no economic sanctions that have a direct impact on the population. The current crisis is, regrettably, a crisis triggered by bad governance. It won’t last forever," Plassnik stated. It was to be hoped that the efforts undertaken by South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki to build a dialogue between government and opposition would soon bear fruit.
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