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close this bookThe Courier N 122 July - August 1990 - Dossier Tourism - Country Report: Mali (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)
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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, one vote’”.

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 Klerk’s 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 people’s 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 in Strasbourg.

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 economy.

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 Mandela.

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 l’Europe.