South Africa: German foreign minister in Pretoria for talks

Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock was in Pretoria on Tuesday to meet with her South African counterpart Naledi Pandor for the German-South African Binational Commission.

Key issues expected to be discussed at the talks centred around energy security, climate change and geopolitical issues affecting Africa and Europe, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

South Africa has faced criticism for its neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has refused to condemn Russia, instead calling for dialogue between the warring countries. 

Earlier in June, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was part of a delegation of African leaders who met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Kyiv and Moscow, respectively, in an attempt to broker peace talks between the two countries. 

War in Ukraine

“This war is, and we have discussed this already, is an attack on the U.N. charter, on the very rules that bind and protect us all,” Baerbock saidduring Tuesday’s talks. “The African delegation, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, made this very clear in St. Petersburg. This war also concerns Africa, the U.N. charter must be respected, and we are thankful for his clear words.”

The war has greatly affected food security and oil prices globally, with African countries amongst those most impacted. 

“Today we are faced with different and yet equally serious global challenges in Africa and elsewhere in the world, including in Europe, where the war in Ukraine has had global ramifications,” Pandor said. 

Diplomatic dilemma

In August, South Africa will also host a BRICS summit in Johannesburg. The BRICS group includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. 

The move placed Pretoria in a diplomatic dilemma over pressure from Western nations to arrest Putin over alleged war crimes related to the war in Ukraine. 

Putin is the subject of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court and South Africa is under obligations to arrest him as a signatory of the Rome Statute which formed the court. 

Earlier this year, relations between South Africa and the United States soured after Washington accused Pretoria of supplying arms to Russia through a Russian ship which docked in Cape Town in December 2023. South Africa has denied the allegations.