EU Officials Charged with “Bullying” Africa

At her public press conference with Antony Blinken on Aug. 8, South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor, was asked by a journalist about those that want to force Africa to choose between Russia and China or the West. She mentioned in her answer that “in our interaction with some of our partners in Europe and elsewhere, there has been a sense of patronizing bullying toward ‘you choose this or else’.”

Intrigued by this remark, the correspondent of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in Brussels, Rosie Birchard, asked (unnamed) political figures in Brussels for their reaction to it. The only answer she got was “no comment,” according to the SABC report, which also notes that the EU leadership is very upset over Africa’s refusal to follow the NATO narrative on Russia, and is considering linking future aid to compliance with the EU’s policies.

The background to this is a leaked, internal EU report by European diplomats that was circulated in Brussels the week ending July 22. According to the media outlet Devex, it shows concern about the EU “losing Africa” and what to do about it. In that context, they suggest that foreign aid should be tied to African nations’ willingness to go along with Europe’s narrative about the Ukraine war, among other issues.

This internal report points to African Union President Macky Sall’s trip to Sochi in early June to meet Vladimir Putin and negotiate a grain deal for Africa, which is seen, according to Devex, as “part of ‘a trend which seems to indicate that the AU and its Member States may be drifting further away from our position’.”

We would add another contentious issue to the frictions, that concerns the measures the EU wants Africa to take to combat “climate change”. In a document drawn up in June, African Union Energy Ministers insisted that fossil fuels, especially natural gas, “will have to play a crucial role” in expanding access to energy and electricity on the continent. The climate change lobby, in particular in the UK, fears that the AU could take a common stance on the need for development at the next climate change conference in November in Egypt.

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