EU MP calls for sanctions removal Fulvio Martusciello

Political Editor

A MEMBER of the European Parliament, Fulvio Martusciello, has called for the removal of illegal economic sanctions that were imposed by the Western world on Zimbabwe, saying Harare needs a fresh start as it has made essential democratic reforms.

This comes as the world is mellowing towards Zimbabwe in the face of political and economic reforms that have been initiated by President Mnangagwa since he came into office in 2017.

The change of heart in Western capitals is also due to the Second Republic’s foreign policy of engagement and re-engagement which has resulted in the European Union (EU) removing most of the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe as it broke ranks with the United Kingdom which is no longer part of the 27-member bloc.

Commenting on the recently held by-elections, Mr Martusciello described the polls as free of any blemishes and counselled his counterparts to consider a wholesome removal of the baneful sanctions that are stifling Zimbabwe’s growth potential.

“The 26th of March elections in Zimbabwe have been observed by various EU observers and they took place under peaceful conditions and democracy was respected. It would seem that the clashes of the past are behind us…should we, therefore, reassess the role of Zimbabwe, and Europe should perhaps make efforts to bring Zimbabwe back into relations with Europe, so it would not be interested in being a partner of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.

“I think Zimbabwe deserves the opportunity in fact of having discussions with us, perhaps the sanctions that have been imposed could be lifted because Zimbabwe is fighting Islamic jihadism in Africa,” said Mr Martusciello, who is Italian.

In an interview with French Publication La Tribune recently, President Mnangagwa explained how the sanctions, which have been in place for more than two decades, have negatively affected Zimbabwe.

“We have been under sanctions for over two decades. They limited our trade with the international community and led to a deep crisis that did not allow us to repay our debt, nor to be able to meet our food needs. In Zimbabwe, the regime has changed! Discussions with the current government must open. We have started repaying a small part of our debt with the World Bank since last year.

“The situation is progressing. We recently participated in the African Union (AU)-European Union (EU) Summit in Brussels and we have good relations with France, Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and many other countries in Europe. Today, our main objective is to strengthen our competitiveness in the international market. We want to attract investors and to do this, we strive to create favourable conditions for an attractive business environment,” he said.

President Mnangagwa said the country’s decision not to vote against Russia at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly following its special military operation in Ukraine was taken because Zimbabwe believes in dialogue to resolve any political crisis.

“It is true that we co-operate politically and economically with the Russian Federation, but our decision is not motivated by considerations of an economic nature. Our abstention on March 23 at the United Nations is justified above all by the fact that we believe that dialogue remains the best solution to reach a settlement of the conflict between the two countries”.

While in the past the UK stood as a stumbling block to full engagement with Europe, its exit from the EU has led to a change of heart especially considering Zimbabwe’s strategic geopolitical location in the region, observed said.

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