The incoming European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe will continue to press for the total removal of illegal sanctions imposed on the country when the bloc’s representatives meet in November to review the embargo, an official said yesterday.
Former EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Aldo Dell’Ariccia, who left the country yesterday after finishing his tour of duty, was optimistic that relations between Zimbabwe and the EU would normalise following the re-engagement process started five years ago.
“Well, I hope we can continue with this positive trend and that indeed the situation will continue improving to the bond that we will be able to completely normalise relations with Zimbabwe.
“Some work still needs to be done and I’m confident that my successor will continue in the same trend and I hope that he will have the same positive response from the Government as I, with my team had,” he said.
However, The Herald could not establish Ambasador Dell’Ariccia’s successor yesterday.
He said: “Well, from the professional point of view it was extremely interesting and very challenging at first. The challenge was to implement the new policy that the EU had adopted towards Zimbabwe, the policy of engagement and together with my team of excellent professionals, I think we have done a good deal in that direction.
“Thanks also to the positive response of the Government and it has been a co-operation and has turned 360 degrees in social sectors, culture, trade and even sports and gender,” he said.
Ambassador Dell’Ariccia said he hoped that Zimbabwe and the EU would continue with the re-engagement process and ultimately normalise relations.
The EU imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 at the instigation of the British Government following the implementation of the land reform programme that was meant to correct colonial land ownership imbalances.
The former coloniser managed to internationalise its bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe, resulting in many countries imposing punitive measures against the country and its leadership.
However, this year the EU removed all officials from its travel ban list but retained President Mugabe and the First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe.
The decision has been widely condemned by observers who said the retention of the President, who is the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces on the sanctions list, effectively meant the sanctions against the country were still in place.
The EU has also pledged to resume direct co-operation with the Zimbabwean Government in November when the bloc representatives meet to review many world issues, among them Zimbabwe.
The decision comes after a grouping of Western countries called Friends of Zimbabwe claimed it had poured in US$2,6 billion into the country through NGO’s during the tenure of the inclusive Government, although there was no evidence on the ground to indicate such a figure had been invested, raising fears that the money could have been abused.
The so-called FoZ comprise Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, the EU, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
However, America has maintained the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe and just recently added more prominent Zimbabweans on the embargo list.
Ambassador Dell’Ariccia was expected to leave the country last night.