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Text of EU News Release 18 Feb 2002 - 2002-02-18


Text is from the provisional version of the news release on the 2,409th meeting of the EU GENERAL AFFAIRS Council in Brussels, 18/19 February 2002

Press Release: Brussels (17/2/2002) - Press:30 Nr: 6247/02

ZIMBABWE - Council conclusions

"The elections in Zimbabwe on 9-10 March 2002 are of crucial importance for the future of the democracy in Zimbabwe.

On 28 January, the Council agreed that the consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement would be closed and targeted sanctions implemented if the Government of Zimbabwe prevented the deployment of an EU election observation mission, or if it prevented the mission from operating effectively, or prevented the international media from having free access to cover the election, or there was a serious deterioration in the situation on the ground, in terms of a worsening of the human rights situation or attacks on the opposition, or if the election was assessed as not being free and fair.

The EU began to send election observers on 3 February. Subsequently, the Government of Zimbabwe objected to having nationals of six EU Member States accredited as observers and refused to accredit the EU Chief Observer, Ambassador Pierre Schori, who was not allowed to stay in the country.

The EU remains seriously concerned at continuing political violence, serious violations of human rights and restrictions on the media in Zimbabwe, which call into question the prospects for a free and fair election on 9-10 March. The restrictive framework imposed by the Government of Zimbabwe contradicts the international standards for free and fair elections, as agreed by SADC Parliamentary Forum.

The Council concluded that the principles enshrined in article 9 of the Cotonou Agreement had not been respected despite all efforts made by the European Union through Article 8 dialogue and later, Article 96 consultations.

Consequently, the Council decided to close Article 96 consultations and take appropriate measures.

Furthermore, the Council decided to implement targeted sanctions in the form of an embargo on the sale, supply or transfer of arms and technical advice, assistance or training related to military activities and an embargo on the sale or supply of equipment which could be used for internal repression in Zimbabwe, as well as a travel ban on persons who engage in serious violations of human rights and of the freedom of opinion, of association and of peaceful assembly in Zimbabwe and a freezing of their funds, other financial assets or economic resources, as contained in the Common Position 4 and Regulation 5 concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe.

These targeted sanctions are aimed solely at those whom the EU judges to be responsible for the violence, for the violations of human rights and for preventing the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe. The EU reserves the right to take additional targeted restrictive measures, at a later date, if the situation deteriorates further.

The sanctions are designed not to harm ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe or her neighbours, nor should they prevent dialogue between the EU and Zimbabwe to address its economic and other problems. The EU remains committed to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Zimbabwe.

The Council also decided to withdraw without delay all EU electoral observers still present in Zimbabwe.

The EU will continue its dialogue with SADC, ACP and other international partners in the run-up to the Presidential election on 9-10 March."

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