“Are double standards taking over European Union external relations?” – Asks Mário David MEP

The Portuguese Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and EPP Vice President Mário David sent a priority question to the Council demanding if “the Council agrees that it is time for the EU to lift its sanctions against the People of Zimbabwe?”, stating that “if the EU were to appraise respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law seriously and coherently, how many countries would face sanctions? No matter what kind of ‘excuses’ are found to justify the lifting of sanctions on the export of diamonds, no one would understand it to be anything but a hypocritical decision taken in the interests of the EU industry”.

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In fact, Mário David reminds on the priority question that “on 23 September 2013, the EU decided to withdraw the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation from the sanctions list” and that from 2002 onwards, after the “Council Decision 2002/148/EC, [when] the EU adopted measures to suspend cooperation with Zimbabwe”, “EU sanctions have been eased on several occasions”.

The EPP Vice President also recalls that “twelve years have passed since the EU adopted measures under Council Decision 2002/148/EC to suspend cooperation with Zimbabwe, and gradual steps have been taken by the Government of Zimbabwe and the opposition to restore the country’s political and economic stability. These include the signing, under the mediation of the Heads of State and Government of the South African Development Community (SADC), of the 2009 Global Political Agreement between the ZANUPF and MDC groupings which led to the establishment of a Government of National Unity (GNU), and the subsequent adoption of a new constitution on the basis of a national referendum on 16 March 2013”.

He stressed that the “Council Decision 2012/97/CFSP of 17 February 2012 recognised that the creation of the GNU afforded an opportunity to re-establish a constructive relationship between the EU and Zimbabwe.

More recently, the EU has given an undertaking to respect both the outcome of the Harmonised Elections of 31 July 2013 and the assessment of those elections by the ACP Group, SADC and African Union observation missions”.

Then, and “quite surprisingly to the international community”, Mário David reminds that “the elections that were deemed by most international observers as the most free, fair and peaceful to have been held in Zimbabwe’s history were, to the surprise of the international community, those that gave President Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF the largest and most credible victory”.

In Mário David’s opinion “the grave economic and social consequences of the sanctions have caused deep suffering among the Zimbabwean people, in particular among the poorer members of society, by restricting employment, social services provision and development opportunities” and that’s why “when the EU reviews the subject in February 2014, it will be time for it to lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe and to restart mutual political and economic cooperation in all fields, which will only prove beneficial to both sides. The EU should not employ double standards in dealing with its partners”.

The Council will have to answer to Mário David’s Priority Question until the end of this month.