Mugabe: Europe must stand firm and resist calls to invite Zimbabwe dictator to EU-Africa Summit

Brussels: July 3rd 2007 — Conservatives urged the Portuguese EU Council Presidency not to cave into demands by African countries that they would boycott the EU-Africa Summit if Mugabe was not invited.

Portugal, which assumed the EU Presidency on 1 July, is planning to undermine the EU’s targeted sanctions against the Mugabe regime by inviting Mugabe to their proposed EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon on 8-9 December 2007.

Portugal is keen for the EU-Africa Summit to go ahead at any price, as the showpiece of its Presidency. The first and last such Summit took place in Cairo in 2000. Since then, African countries have refused to attend summits in Europe unless all African leaders are invited. The EU’s targeted sanctions, first imposed in 2002, ban certain named members of the Mugabe regime from travelling to EU countries - and Mugabe himself tops the list.

Sir Robert Atkins MEP and Deputy Leader of the Conservative Delegation in the European Parliament commented:

“If it is to have any credibility, the EU must stand firm. An invitation to Mugabe would mean that the EU’s targeted sanctions policy was not worth the paper it was written on. Even talk of inviting Mugabe gives comfort to his appalling regime.

“Without good governance there will be no meaningful improvement in the lives of African people. The litmus test of commitment to good governance by African countries is their attitude to Mugabe’s regime. Is their solidarity with fellow African regimes worth more than solidarity with their own citizens?

“Diplomatic efforts should focus on persuading individual African governments to withdraw all support for Mugabe - only in that way will change take place and the miserable lot of the Zimbabwean people improve. If the EU-Africa Summit does not take place it will be Africa’s loss. We need principled leadership on this issue from the major African countries and from our own Government, not a vanity project from the EU Presidency.”

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