Being a good listener and identifying opportunities for closer cooperation – that’s what I’ll be doing during my trip to South Africa. As an African opinion leader in the United Nations, the G20 and COP, South Africa is one of our key partners when it comes to addressing global issues: fighting the climate crisis, promoting global health or ensuring food security. In all of these areas, I see time and again that when the country of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu raises its voice against injustice, the world listens. That is why, while in Pretoria, I also want to talk about how South Africa can leverage its weight to help bring an end to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and to preserve the UN Charter. By proposing an African peace initiative, President Ramaphosa and his counterparts have already made clear that this brutal war in Europe is also a matter that concerns Africa.
South Africa is clear proof that, in the sphere of foreign policy, interests and values are not opposed to one another, but instead depend on one another. It is precisely the country’s vibrant democracy, its free and vocal press and its independent judiciary that make South Africa an attractive location for investment and generate the kind of deep and multifaceted cooperation that only two democracies can enjoy. This benefits the people in our countries in a palpable way, be it through the expansion of mRNA vaccine production in South Africa or our investments in green technologies of the future so that South Africa can overcome its energy crisis and at the same time reach its climate goals in a socially equitable way.
At the same time, intensifying this relationship is in the geopolitical interest of both our countries. Therefore, in view of the dramatic developments in Russia, I believe it is especially important now for me to meet and hold discussions with our South African partners, so that I can better understand how they view the current global situation.