The war in Ukraine appeared to be high on the agenda during Tuesday’s meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and German Chencellor Olaf Scholz, with Scholz accepting Ramaphosa’s explanation as to why SA voted in the UN General Assembly vote
During a media briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, Ramaphosa was asked if SA had changed its position and why it does not support sanctions against Russia.
Ramaphosa said: “Chancellor Scholz and I had a good few minutes at our tête-à-tête and we talked about a range of issues including the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. I was quite encouraged by the explanation he gave regarding Germany’s stance.”
Ramaphosa said Scholz understands other countries’ positions.
“There are a number of countries who mostly supported the position taken at the UN General Assembly. He understands the reasons why each country voted for Russia and abstained.
“We took the position that we want negotiations, dialogue and engagement with Russia on this matter or between the two countries . We have been quite consistent on this because we know very well the value of dialogue, negotiation and cooperation as in many ways they have created our own democracy.”
Ramaphosa said SA was in a position to where it is today because of the dialogue, negotiation and cooperation between warring entities.
“We were played off against each other by the apartheid government regime. Only dialogue and negotiations ended the conflict, and that is the position we have articulated.”
This is a position Ramaphosa took to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, USA, President Joe Biden, China’s President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron have articulated.
He said: “I think this position should be the order of the day. This is why we say we want this conflict to end and one of the best ways is to demand a cessation of hostilities and this should be achieved through negotiations. Once there is a ceasefire, we will be able to bring the two warring factions into serious negotiations.”
Regarding the sanctions imposed on Russia, Ramaphosa said: “These have far-reaching implications, even on Countries that do this are bystanders or not part of the conflict. They will also suffer from the sanctions imposed on Russia.”
He said the sanctions imposed on SA during apartheid were different.
“What was successful was negotiations. The negotiations brought an end to the apartheid nightmare and conflict, and Chancellor Scholz understands the position we have taken.”
Scholz said it was important to discuss the global implications of the war.
“I think it was a good decision by the G20 to invite Zelenskyy. It is an important step and we need to talk about further steps to get closer to the G20 summit. We decided to impose sanctions on Russia to persuade them to end the war. We decided to stop the import of coal in Europe and Germany in the autumn of this year.”
He said that sanctions include stopping imports of Russian oil.
“In Case of EU, we are discussing it because some countries have no problems to solve because of infrastructure.” Asked if he thinks African Union leader Macky Sall’s meeting with Putin and Zelenskyy would help to improve the two leaders At the table, Ramaphosa said: “It was decided that Sall should go to Russia, but we also said that he had to go to Ukraine so that it wouldn’t be a one-way visit.”
Ramaphosa said the visit is important because “Africa has a role to play because it has access to both leaders to facilitate the process of dialogue and negotiation.” ”
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