Joint Communiqué of the First South Africa-Ireland Partnership Forum
1. The first meeting of the South Africa-Ireland Partnership Forum was held at the Department of Trade and Industry Campus in Tshwane on 22 and 23 June 2006. The Forum was established in 2004 when Dr NC Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, and then Irish Foreign Minister, Minister B Cowen, signed a Declaration of Intent aimed at placing bilateral relations on a coherent and structured footing.
2. The Forum was held at senior officials' level, co-chaired by Acting South African Deputy Director-General: Americas and Europe, Ambassador Gert Grobler and Mr Rory Montgomery, Political Director at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.
3. The meeting reaffirmed the close and friendly ties between South Africa and Ireland and their shared commitment to the values of human rights and democracy, as well as to a rules-based multilateral system.
4. The South African side presented a comprehensive briefing on the Shared and Accelerated Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGI-SA) as well as on the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA). It was agreed that South Africa and Ireland would examine ways to cooperate in the achievement of the goals of ASGI-SA and JIPSA, particularly as regards skills acquisition, and officials were tasked to explore the practical implementation of such cooperation. It was also agreed that Ireland's remarkable economic success story presented an important case-study for South Africa in achieving its goals of addressing poverty, skills shortages and unemployment. A proposed visit by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to Ireland was welcomed by the Irish side and it was agreed that it would be tailored to promote the objectives of ASGI-SA and JIPSA.
5. Current trade issues and patterns were discussed and the continuously strengthening economic ties between South Africa and Ireland were commended by both sides. The meeting resolved to further these ties, including by encouraging visits by trade delegations. In this connection the Forum welcomed the planned visit of Micheal Martin, Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which is scheduled to take place next September. South Africa and Ireland exchanged views on their respective trade and investment, and tourism promotion strategies as well as on Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment policies. Ireland agreed to explore ways of assisting South Africa in strengthening trade and investment, given its own success in this area.
6. An overview was provided by the South African Department of Education on possible additional areas of cooperation. The parties agreed to further consultation meetings to discuss the way forward.
7. It was furthermore agreed that the South African and Irish authorities would explore the possibilities for a Memorandum of Understanding on Development and Exchange of Health Professionals and any other health related issues.
8. The meeting agreed that the principles contained within the Paris Declaration should be the basis for future partnerships between all donors and South Africa and both parties reaffirmed their commitment to implement the Declaration in full.
9. Both parties noted that the current Irish Aid Country Strategy Paper (CSP) for South Africa ends in 2006. An evaluation of the CSP is underway, the findings of which will inform the new strategy. The new CSP will focus on Irish Aid interventions that support South African development priorities. The South African side was informed that Ireland is currently preparing its first White Paper on Development Cooperation, which will be published later in 2006.
10. The meeting expressed its strong support for the active consolidation and promotion of the African Agenda. The Irish side was briefed on the latest developments with regard to the African Union and NEPAD and commended progress achieved, for example with the successes of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
11. Individual country situations were reviewed, including in the Sudan, Great Lakes Region, DRC, Côte d'Ivoire, and Zimbabwe. The meeting reiterated its strong support for the principle of peaceful and negotiated settlement of disputes. Trilateral co-operation in Africa, including on post-conflict reconstruction, will be actively pursued by officials, following the Partnership Forum. The South African side welcomed the recent Irish contribution to the Independent Electoral Commission intervention in support of the upcoming elections in the DRC. The Irish side noted with appreciation the constructive role of South Africa in promoting peace, stability and economic growth throughout the continent.
12. Perspectives were shared on a number of international issues of concern, including on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and United Nations Reform.
13. The Irish side provided a briefing on the latest developments with regard to Northern Ireland.
14. At the conclusion of the Partnership Forum, it was agreed that it proved to be a valuable mechanism to review and actively promote the excellent ties between South Africa and Ireland. Officials were tasked to follow up on the discussions and present clear and measurable results at the next meeting.
15. It was agreed that the Partnership Forum will meet again in 2007 in Ireland.