Today, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas spoke to South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor via video link. The talks replaced the meeting of the two Foreign Ministers in Pretoria for the 10th Binational Commission of the two Governments planned for today (20 March). Foreign Minister Maas issued the following statement after the video conversation:
Since South African President Cyril Ramaphosa assumed office, we have been able to inject considerable impetus into our bilateral relations. I am pleased that, in the current situation, it was possible for our Binational Commission to take place through virtual channels and that we were able to agree on the final document. The most important agreements concern Germany’s support with developing the South African vocational training system and closer cooperation in the area of international climate policy and the climate‑friendly expansion of the South African energy grid.
I was able to speak to my counterpart Naledi Pandor via video link. The most important issue other than our long-term bilateral projects was of course our handling of the coronavirus crisis, which in these days is now starting to spread across the African continent. We talked about the impact on those affected and on national economies and discussed joint approaches. Moreover, numerous German tourists are currently in South Africa, and ways to return them home are being sought. I am glad that we have been able to find a solution for the passengers of the Aida Mira.
We are also close partners in the area of foreign policy. South Africa is shouldering particularly weighty international responsibility this year as Chair of the African Union. Germany is assuming the EU Council Presidency. Both of us are non‑permanent members of the UN Security Council and are working together on our Alliance for Multilateralism. To this end we also discussed the developments in Libya, South Sudan and the Sahel region today.
The German‑South African Binational Commission convenes every two years, alternating between Berlin and Pretoria. The two partner countries debate on global challenges and coordinate potential cooperation in the areas of politics, business, the environment, development cooperation, defence, education, science, technology, culture, labour and social affairs. In recent weeks, the ministries of both countries drafted concrete cooperation projects for the German‑South African Binational Commission.