SA remains concerned about ongoing Russia-Ukraine, Israel-Palestine wars - Pandor

Monday, November 6, 2023
Ministers Pandor and Kubela hold talks in Pretoria.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has told her Ukrainian counterpart, Minister Dmytro Kubela, that South Africa remains deeply concerned about the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the continuing loss of lives and the very worrying humanitarian situation.

"We are in discussion with our own leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to look at how we can have a greater impetus to the Africa Peace Initiative to address our concerns with respect to this war,” she said on Monday. 

Pandor was hosting Kubela in Pretoria for political consultations, where the two leaders also briefed media.

Africa, Pandor said, has been witness to numerous conflicts and overcame difficult wars over the years. 

“All conflict has devastating effects on the countries involved. The effects are felt both politically, as well as economically and in terms of the development opportunities for often innocent citizens.

“As a continent, we continue to strive to build peace; strive to work toward developing a culture of peaceful resolution of conflict, and the promotion of the importance of diplomacy and peace as the route to resolving any dispute.” 

This is the reason the Minister said South Africa always encourages a process of peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa and globally. 

“We believe the only path to peace is through diplomacy, dialogue and commitment to the principles of the United Nations Charter, including the principle that all Member States shall settle their disputes by peaceful means, and many people forget this particular provision of the UN Charter.”

Regarding the unfolding tragedy in the Middle East, Pandor urged the international community to be louder in voicing a call for the immediate cessation of hostilities. 

During his address to the General Assembly in September this year, President Ramaphosa insisted that the UN Charter principle of respect for the territorial integrity of every country be upheld. He told Member States that South Africa values the importance of engaging all partners in conflict to achieve peaceful, just and enduring resolutions. 

“Minister, we’re meeting at a time when the world is experiencing a grave escalation of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The carnage and senseless destruction of property, as well as the untold pain and suffering on all sides, should be condemned unreservedly,”  Pandor said on Monday.

The unfolding events, she said, reminded South Africa of its own suffering at the hands of the apartheid machinery. 

“Therefore, we call for an immediate end of hostilities, unconditional provision of medical supplies and humanitarian aid. It has thus become more urgent that the relevant UN resolutions and decisions are fully executed to ensure peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine for sustained peace. [It] is our belief, as President Mandela, said that the struggle of South Africa is not complete if the people of Palestine are not free.” 

Kubela said he was happy that he is the first Ukrainian Foreign Minister to visit South Africa since 1998. 

“On the other hand, I am unhappy that the pause in high-level bilateral contacts between foreign ministers has taken so long. We should commit today never to allow this to happen again, and to have regular political dialogue between our countries.” 

Kubela said the leaders will not only discuss bilateral relations between Ukraine and South Africa but also the larger regional perspective of African politics and development. 

“No one in today's world exists in isolation. Neither peace nor war exists in isolation in today's world. 

“So while Ukraine has been suffering from the large-scale invasion by Russia since February 2022, we do observe and follow with utmost concern the crisis in the Middle East, and we wish for just and lasting peace to be restored in the Middle East based on the principle of a two-State solution.”

Kubela said he believes that the deeper the contact between the countries, the higher the level of trust between both nations. 

“There are good reasons for that to happen, which will allow us to address the most sensitive issues in the bilateral and Global Agenda successfully and together.” 

These issues, according to Kubela, include the implementation of Ukraine's peace formula to end the war, international organisations, the development of trade and the involvement of Ukrainian expertise in the digitalisation of government services, and the production of agricultural food products across Africa. 

“All of this is on the table and I'm looking forward to a fruitful discussion, and as we diplomats like to say, 'result-oriented discussion',” he said. –