Borrell travels to South Africa to strengthen relations despite rapprochement with Russia

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell – -/European Council/dpa

The High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, will travel to South Africa on Thursday in an attempt to strengthen relations at a time when the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has taken steps to move closer to Russia and denounced the effects of European sanctions over the war in Ukraine on the African continent.

A ministerial meeting between the EU and South Africa will take place in Pretoria on Friday, in an appointment to resume dialogue in different areas. Borrell will be joined by the Commissioner for Financial Services, Mairead McGuinnes, the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, and the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Jutta Urpilainen.

The meeting comes at a time when the relationship between the EU and South Africa has grown in depth and ambition «despite the challenging international context,» said the EU diplomacy in a statement.

«Ministers will review the strategic partnership focusing on several areas of mutual interest, including peace and security, multilateral cooperation, bilateral trade and investment, vaccine production and health, climate change, renewable energy, just energy transition, science, innovation and education,» the note from Borrell’s office said.

South Africa announced a few days ago that during the month of February it will carry out joint military maneuvers with Russia and China with the aim of «strengthening the already flourishing relations» between the three countries. It is one of the countries of the African continent that has declined to take a position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and assumed in December 2022 the rotating presidency of the group known as BRICS, which also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Thus, the visit will serve to maintain bilateral contacts with Ramaphosa and with the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Naledi Pandor, while on Saturday, the High Representative will travel to neighboring Botswana to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lemogang Kwape, and with Elias Magosi, the executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community, a regional organization comprising 15 countries in the area and headquartered in Gaborone.