President concludes working visit to 5th AU-EU Summit

President Jacob Zuma has concluded his working visit to CAte d'Ivoire where he attended the Fifth African Union-European Union Summit in Abidjan.

The Presidency said on Friday there was a unanimous view from the leaders of both regions that there was an urgent need to change the nature of relations between the AU and EU from one of dependency to a new partnership of interdependence that addresses Africa's development challenges and contributes to shared prosperity between the two regions.

Leaders from both regions raised the view that in order to strengthen relations, it is essential to assess and review the relationship between the two regions.

According to President Zuma, fundamental changes were needed because there is a common view that the relationship, which is evolving from a donor-recipient model, is largely benefiting European countries and that can no longer be sustained.

A number of leaders from both regions agreed that the continued underdevelopment of Africa and conflicts in certain part of the continent were, to a certain extent, the result of the history of our uneven relationship.

Therefore there was an urgent need to fundamentally transform the structure and content of our relations into a new meaningful and mutually beneficial partnership that will particularly benefit the youth and women, the President said in a statement issued after the talks.

Libyan migrants

President Zuma used the summit to express repulsion at the violation of the rights of African migrants who are unlawfully detained, abused and auctioned in Libya.

He condemned this gross violation of human rights in the strongest possible terms and the summit agreed to work together with authorities in Libya to urgently curb the practise.

We unanimously agreed that the Libyan government should immediately institute investigations on this matter and publish the report. We also agreed that the two regions and the United Nations will study that report and if there are any challenges or discrepancies, these institutions will have to intervene immediately.

The summit called on the international community to urgently provide financial, material and technical support for the efforts of the AU Commission, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the countries whose nationals are stranded in Libya, to facilitate the return of migrants who wish to be repatriated.

President Zuma said South Africa was of the view that there was a need for both regions to swiftly address the underlying factors that force migrants to flee their countries including conflicts, underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment and a lack of economic opportunities in Africa

South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership

On a national level, the summit gave new impetus to the South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, especially as it is the 10th anniversary of the partnership.

To enhance this strategic partnership, President Zuma held a bilateral meeting with the EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, on the side-lines of the summit.

The two leaders agreed on the need to strengthen the partnership. Our meeting with EU Commission President was very successful and we agreed that we will hold a South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership summit early next year in Europe as the last summit was held in South Africa in 2013.

South Africa's political and economic relations with the EU are strong and cordial and the President hoped that next year's summit will further reinforce and cement relations.

United Nations Security Council

Furthermore, Pretoria used the summit to lobby the EU to support its campaign to get a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council next year.

It would be South Africa's third turn on the peace and security decision-making body since 1994S if the lobbying is successful.

Pretoria was a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2007 and 2011.

African Union leaders further used the summit to lobby the EU countries to support Africa and other regions' call for the transformation of the United Nations structures for the benefit of all member states, not the few, and also to change the nature in which the UN is operating, particularly the Security Council.

Africa has been a driving force for representation at the UNSC, arguing for the right to permanent representation on an equal basis, including the right to veto � which is presently reserved for the existing five permanent UNSC members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States

South Africa further used the summit to enhance strategic economic and diplomatic relations through various engagements at the summit and during events held on the side-lines.

President Zuma was accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Bulelani Magwanishe.

Source: South African Government News Agency