Zimbabwe's Press free: EU
Posted: Friday, September 17, 2010

By Farirai Machivenyika
September 17, 2010 - The Herald

INCOMING European Commissioner to Zimbabwe Mr Aldo Dell'Ariccia yesterday acknowledged the existence of a free Press in Zimbabwe and pledged to normalise strained relations during his term here.

Speaking after presenting his credentials to President Mugabe at State House, Ambassador Dell'Ariccia exp-ressed confidence that Zimbabwe-EU dialogue would achieve the desired results.

"I have been in this country for the past eight days and what I can tell you is that there is a Press that is free.

"You can read newspapers in this country and have a feeling of independent information," he said.

On Zimbabwe-EU dialogue, Amba-ssador Dell'Ariccia said: "The aim is to achieve good relations and I think that we have to progress in a secure way.

"I am convinced that it is conceivable and achievable."

The European Commissioner des-cribed his discussions with President Mugabe as cordial.

"It was a friendly experience and we discussed the relationship be-tween the EU and Zimbabwe and the way forward.

"My mandate here is to re-establish the relationship that exists between the EU and Zimbabwe and I am optimistic it will happen," he said.

The EU imposed illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe citing, among other issues, the non-existence of free media and human rights abuses.

Dialogue between the two has stalled with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicating the EU is not interested in normalising ties.

The new Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Anders Liden, said he wanted relations between the two countries to improve.

"We have had a very good discussion together and he (President Mugabe) reminded me of the old times when we supported Zimbabwe's liberation struggle.

"I am looking to the future to see if we can go back to the good old days," he said.

Sweden is an EU member.

Holland's new top envoy here, Ms Helena Joziasse, said she would work to open bilateral dialogue.

"The discussion (with President Mugabe) focused on ways to further dialogue with the people of Zimba-bwe.

"We discussed ways we can co-operate in various areas like agriculture, water management, transport and so many other fields," she said.

A further four new ambassadors from Kenya, Malawi, Serbia and the Slovak Republic also presented their credentials to the President.

Ambassadors Ladislav Straka (Slovakia) and Goran Vujic (Serbia) pledged to strengthen ties between Zimbabwe and their respective countries.

Nairobi's chief diplomat in Harare, Ms Josephine Awour, said she would work to resuscitate the Zimbabwe-Kenya Joint Commission.

"Kenya and Zimbabwe enjoy good relations and my job is to strengthen those cordial relations and increase trade and resuscitate the joint commission, which has been dormant for a while now," she said.

Malawi's Ambassador Richard Phoya said he would want Zimbabwe to assist his country in the education sector.

"The relationship between Malawi and Zimbabwe is extremely good and so I am here to make sure that relationship is maintained and uplifted.

"I want to see Zimbabwe companies operating in Malawi and Malawian companies operating in Zimbabwe.

"I also want to take advantage of your educated people and see how we can tap into their expertise," he said.

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