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EU reaffirms aid, but says sanctions must remain

Video by Shirli SITBON


Latest update : 2009-09-14

EU officials will give 90 million euros in aid in 2009 to Zimbabwe after two days of talks with President Robert Mugabe, but said sanctions will remain in place, signalling concern over continued human rights violations.

AFP - The European Union on Sunday said sanctions will remain against Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe but reaffirmed its support to the troubled nation, saying more aid could follow greater reforms.
"The European Union has never stopped helping Zimbabwe," said EU aid commissioner Karel de Gucht at the end of a two-day visit to Zimbabwe for the bloc's first talks with Harare in seven years.
"Between 2002 and 2009 roughly 600 million euros has gone to humanitarian aid and we are switching to more structural aid, what we call transitional aid for education. In 2009 alone we will invest 90 million euros in Zimbabwe."
Speaking later in Johannesburg, De Gucht said the bloc had contributed 7.5 million euros for a donor-funded education programme that will be launched on Monday and that further aid was a possibility.
"If there is positive response, we can do more. We are presently in the European Commission working on a package and we hope to finalise it by the end of this month," he said.
"But it's also very much in the hands of the Zimbabweans. The more they give us the possibility to do, the more we will do but the conditions have to be met."
The EU delegation, which held talks with President Robert Mugabe and his former political rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, slammed reports of human rights violations in Zimbabwe.
"We still have a lot of reports on human rights violations. That is unacceptable and not the spirit" of the power-sharing agreement, said Swedish Development Minister Gunilla Carlsson, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
"The EU has a clear line that the key to re-engagement is the full implementation of the global political agreement," she said in Harare.
Mugabe and Tsvangarai formed a unity government in February which has acted to steer Zimbabwe back to stability, but has been plagued by power struggles over key posts and continued persecution of Tsvangirai's supporters.
The visit by the EU delegation came as regional leaders demanded the bloc drop its targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his close allies imposed after 2002 elections that Western observers and local poll monitors said were flawed.
De Gucht said Mugabe had touched on the penalties but that the issue had not dominated the landmark talks in Harare.
"This now is certainly not the moment to lift them - that's what we made very clear," he said.
Zimbabwe had entered a period of stabilisation after the chaos following disputed polls last year but more was needed to kickstart the country's development, he said.
Key issues were a solution to Zimbabwe's land reform process, restarting of the agriculture secture and greater action on the rule of law.

Date created : 2009-09-13