FORMER Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov will lead a delegation which includes Vice-President of the European People’s Party and a Member of the European Parliament from Portugal, Mario David, to Harare on Sunday to promote dialogue between European Union (EU) businesspeople and local policy-makers ahead of the further removal of targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe’s leaders and corporate entities by the 28-member bloc next month, the Zimbabwe Independent has ascertained.
Stoyanov — who was Bulgarian president from 1997 to 2002 — and his delegation which includes David, is coming from the Vienna-based Centre for Global Dialogue and Cooperation (CGDC) whose secretary-general Stamen Stantchev, an entrepreneur, is already in Harare, a senior CGDC official confirmed last night.
The CGDC, a politically independent international non-governmental organisation, was formed in 2009 by Stoyanov, Walter Schwimmer, Werner Fasslabend, Etienne Declercq and Stantchev to liaise between business and politics regionally and globally.
David, an Angolan-born Portuguese national who sits on the CGDC international board, played a major role behind the scenes to get EU sanctions on Zimbabwe scaled down.
The EU, whose trade with Zimbabwe is close to US$1 billion annually, has largely removed sanctions on Zimbabwe except on Mugabe, his wife Grace and military commanders, as well as several business entities.
The EU’s move next month will pave way for normalisation of relations which have been strained since sanctions were imposed in 2002 due to policy differences over land reform, human rights and electoral violence and manipulation.
The measures were triggered by Harare’s refusal to accredit EU election observer mission head Pierre Schori ahead of the 2002 presidential poll.
As a result, on February 18 2002, the EU council decided to take “appropriate measures” against Zimbabwe following the conclusion of the consultations held under Article 96 of the ACP-EC Partnership (Cotonou) Agreement.
These measures included the suspension of the financing of budgetary support and funding for projects, as well as the signature of the 9th European Development Fund National Indicative Programme, but explicitly did not affect humanitarian issues and projects in social sectors, democratisation, human rights and rule of law.
They also included the suspension of Article 12 of Annex 2 to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement concerning current payments and capital movements. The EU cited “serious violations of human rights and of freedom of opinion, of association and of peaceful assembly”.
A more immediate reason was the attempts by the Zimbabwean government to prevent free and fair elections, notably by refusing access for international election observers and the media.
According to Article 2 (3) of the Decision of 18 February 2002, the measures were to apply for a period of 12 months reviewed annually and would be only lifted once human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law had been restored.
Since 2012 the EU has been scaling down the sanctions which might be wholly lifted by February next year after 13 years of strained relations.