"The European Union has two major programmes in the pipeline for southern Africa within the European Development Fund: one is dedicated to peace and security, and the other one – to migration. I would like to announce that this week the EU approved a EUR 15 million package for the peace and security programme that hopefully we will be able to launch sooner rather than later."
These were the opening words of Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva at the ministerial meeting in Pretoria between the EU and the Southern African Development Community.
The first Bulgarian diplomat is co-chairing the ministerial meeting in the framework of the political dialogue between the European Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Mrs. Zaharieva leads the European delegation in her capacity as foreign minister of the rotating presidency of the EU Council.
In Pretoria Zaharieva is accompanied by senior diplomats from the European External Action Service, from the European Commission, as well as by EC Delegations from several countries in the region.
"We need an innovative and bold approach to help us meet the challenges of modernity," Zaharieva argued. "I am glad to be here, in the Republic of South Africa in this historic year when we honour the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth and the legacy he bequeathed us."
The Peace and Security Program to which the EU commits EUR 15 million, is designed to bolster the long-term monitoring of electoral processes in the countries of the region, to promote mediation as a conflict prevention method, to stimulate international police cooperation aimed at fighting organised crime, and especially drug trafficking.
The Bulgarian Foreign Minister emphasised how important SADC was for the stabilization of this part of the continent. "We need to discuss what can be done to strengthen democracy and peace, in order to make sure that transparent elections are held throughout the region in the years to come.
They are the only way to give us certainty that we will witness reforms backed by society," Zaharieva said. The Bulgarian deputy prime minister also highlighted the importance of giving the region's young people a promise for the future and allocating resources to their education, which is directly linked to another important issue, migration.
SADC was established in 1992. It involves 16 countries: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Comoros, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Seychelles and Tanzania.
The EU and SADC delegations also discussed the results of the November 2017 EU-African Union Summit in Abidjan; the ways to boost the flow of investment to the region’s agriculture, energy, pharmaceuticals; how to promote labor market-related education programmes; and how to deploy the Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programmes.