The talks on Wednesday (16 November) between the high-level delegations, headed by Foreign Ministers Frank-Walter Steinmeier for Germany and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane for South Africa, were marked by many common interests. In addition to economic relations and cooperation in the sphere of education, the meeting focused on the challenges facing both countries at present as a result of refugee movements and migration. The International Criminal Court was also discussed.
Good economic results
The Binational Commission stems from an initiative by the Heads of Government Nelson Mandela and Helmut Kohl. Since 1996, it has met every two years, alternating between Germany and South Africa. Just under 9000 kilometres separate the two strategic partners – but they have more in common than many realise. This is partly due to the more than 600 German companies which operate in South Africa and the over 100,000 people who they employ in that country. Foreign Minister Steinmeier therefore spoke of “good results” in the economic sphere. He said there was growing interest in South Africa in German investment and German companies, in turn, are relying on the efforts of the South African Government in the spheres of good governance and conditions for investment.
Joint challenge: refugees and migration
Something else which Germany and South Africa have in common is that they shoulder responsibility in their respective regions. Both countries have taken in a large number of refugees and now want to enter into a dialogue about migration and humanitarian assistance in order to learn from each other and to compare tried and tested instruments. The efforts of the African Union to stabilise Libya as well as how African states deal with the limitation of legislative terms were among the regional issues on the Commission’s agenda.
Discussion on the International Criminal Court
Developments surrounding the International Criminal Court were also discussed in the course of the talks. “We know that not all member states of the United Nations, including some of the larger member countries, have been in favour of the road to the International Criminal Court. It is therefore all the more regrettable that support is falling at present,” said Foreign Minister Steinmeier after the talks. The reasons why South Africa currently does not support the Court were also discussed.
At the end of the meeting, the Commission adopted a 15-page joint report which reflects the entire breadth of the cooperation: foreign and security policy, the economy and energy, development cooperation, the environment, science and technology, the arts and culture, labour and social affairs as well as vocational education and training.
The next Binational Commission is scheduled to take place in South Africa in 2018.
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