European Parliament welcomes Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela, Vice - President of the African National
Congress (ANC), was welcomed by Community MPs when he visited the European
Parliament in Strasbourg from 11 - 14 June. The House paid tribute to his
courage and democratic convictions and to his determination to seek broad
agreement on new democratic institutions in South Africa. Since you were
freed, European Parliament President Enrique Baron Crespo told Mr Mandela,
the whole world has been impressed by your sense of dignity and immense
bravery and especially by your will to dialogue with the South African
Government to find a peaceful solution to the problems raised by apartheid...
Therein lies the immense strength of the unshakeable tenacity of the past 30
years which has sustained you in your uncompromising rejection of racial
segregation and in your quest for a new political order based on one man,
Nelson Mandela responded to the President and other speakers by
saying that, in pursuing the cause of the freeing of all the political prisoners
in South Africa and the emancipation of our people from racial
bondage, the European Parliament had given proof of the nobility of
the human mind .
He went on to stress to importance of maintaining economic
sanctions against the South African Government. He reminded the House of his
confidence in President De Klerks good faith and recognised the progress
which the South African Head of State had made towards abolishing apartheid.
However, Mr Mandela said, the principal foundations of the apartheid policy were
still in place and it would be weakening the ANC to remove the economic
sanctions against the Pretoria Government now. It would be a knife in our
peoples back, because the conditions for relaxing external pressure
on the Pretoria authorities were not there, he thought. We want to put you
seriously on your guard that any retreat from this position would be a threat to
the process of negotiation itself - a plea repeated time and time again in
the many talks he had with leading political, economic and trade union figures
Nelson Mandela also mentioned the economic aspects of what he
was doing. It is equally important for the political changes to be
accompanied by significant economic transformations , he maintained,
as we have to make sure that the economy serves the interests of all our
people and is used to put an end to the terrible poverty and deprivation
which are the legacy of apartheid.
And here, Mr Mandela said in answer to a question from The
Courrier, the Community had a considerable part to play in the process of
establishing democracy and peace in South Africa. More specifically, he also
hoped that the Community would provide a large amount of aid to resettle
(roughly 120 000) refugees, train workers and ensure the general development of
The European Parliament, with a left - wing majority, supported
and voted for a resolution to maintain economic sanctions against Pretoria.
But the French Liberal, Simone Veil, also took a constructive
position, pleading for sanctions to be maintained but also for a gesture to be
made to President De Klerk so as not to ignore the efforts of the South African
Head of State - who had to stand up to white extremists, just as Nelson Mandela
had to stand up to the hard - liners of violent action in the black population.
Before leaving Strasbourg for Rome, Canada and the USA, Nelson
Mandela and his wife Winnie, together with Peter Pekane. the ANC representative
in Brussels, received a delegation of ACP Ambassadors led by Amaduaogo
(Burkina Faso), the President of the OAU Group in Brussels, and Raymond Chasle
(Mauritius), the doyen of the ACP diplomatic corps. The meeting was also
attended by, Emmanuel Gasana, the Head of the OAU office in Brussels, and
Kapembe Nsingo, the Zambian Ambassador, who paid enthusiastic tribute to Mr
In 1988, the European Parliament awarded Nelson Mandela the
Sakharov prize, which goes to leading figures who have made a significant
contribution to the furtherance of human rights and freedoms. The publishers P.
Staedl, of Strasbourg, also paid a philatelic tribute to the South African
leader at the Palais de lEurope.