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South Africa speaks on developments at Russia, Ukraine border

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The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) says it has taken the hard but necessary decision to shut down 10 diplomatic missions abroad. According to the department, this was in response to the country’s fiscal constraints, exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the media ahead of her department’s budget vote in Parliament, Minister Naledi Pandor said Cabinet made the resolution after a series of consultations that culminated in a decision. According to the Minister, the missions, which include embassies, high commissions and consulates, are being closed systematically during the 2021/22 financial year. “This decision is deeply regretted and South Africa expresses its confidence that the excellent diplomatic relations with these countries and regions will continue through the non-resident missions, and the diplomatic missions represented in South Africa,” Pandor said on Thursday. Pandor announced that the list of missions earmarked for closure include: Minsk, Belarus; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; The Holy See, The Vatican; Helsinki, Finland; Milan, Italy (consulate); Muscat, Oman; Suva, Fiji; Bucharest, Romania; Lima, Peru and Chicago, United States (consulate). In addition, she assured South African citizens resident abroad, businesses and tourists that a smooth transfer of civic and immigration services to non-resident missions is underway. “All affected stakeholders are advised to check with the affected embassies and consulates-general on the exact dates of termination of services,” she said. Meanwhile, Pandor said further announcements of the transfer of civic and immigration services will be made on the websites of DIRCO, the Department of Home Affairs and the affected missions. Foreign policy priorities According to Pandor, even before the global community was confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, the world had become more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. She said this includes crosscutting and border-blind challenges, global warming, terrorism, pandemics, and cybersecurity. “The global governance architecture is at a crossroads, as it struggles to manage the multiple challenges afflicting people and the planet, while governing relations between States, as well as those between States and non-State actors.” Therefore, Pandor said South Africa has to execute its foreign policy “conscious” and “responsive” to dynamic national and international contexts. “It is in this environment that South Africa promotes and protects its national interest. South Africa’s national interest displays a people-centred, progressive and developmental outlook evidenced in its foreign policy.” She believes that this could be done by promoting pan-Africanism, South-South solidarity and cooperation, North-South cooperation, and multilateral cooperation

The South African government has expressed concern about the ongoing tensions at the Ukraine and Russia border, as the situation – if allowed to further deteriorate – could have regional and global ramifications. 

“All parties have much to gain from a negotiated outcome and much to lose from an unnecessary and violent conflict,” the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, said on Wednesday.

South Africa has urged all parties to devote increased efforts to diplomacy and to find a solution that will help de-escalate tensions and avert armed conflict.

South Africa further called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to play a central role in the search for peace.

“The UNSC is the body given the mandate for maintenance of international peace and security, and it must exercise its role fully.

“As South Africa, we believe all the issues of concern to any of the parties must be addressed in inclusive talks led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Security Council,” Pandor said.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said the world does not need another war, as “that will result in death and destruction,”  hence the call for enhanced diplomacy.

Meanwhile, news reports are that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “military operation” in the Ukraine in a televised statement on Thursday. – SAnews

A military vehicle is seen on a street on the outskirts of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 23, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
A military vehicle is seen on a street on the outskirts of the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 23, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

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