International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor
- Ukraine’s ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova, will be allowed to continue functioning in the country.
- Abravitova has been highly critical on social media about South Africa’s stance on Russia’s war with Ukraine.
- According to Minister Naledi Pandor, South Africa is more interested in offering peaceful solutions.
Ukraine’s ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova, will be allowed to function in South Africa despite her very public critique of the country’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine war.
This is according to International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, who, however, maintains Abravitova’s criticisms are “unfortunate”.
“I think some of the comments the ambassador has made are most unfortunate, and it has certainly not assisted relations between her mission and ourselves, but we continue to allow her the opportunity to continue to function in our country. We advise our own representatives throughout the world that they should conduct themselves rather differently,” she said.
Pandor was speaking before the National Council of Provinces on Thursday.
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Added to this, Pandor told MPs that South Africa is more interested in offering a peaceful solution.
“I believe the ambassador is fully aware of South Africa’s statements and views. She is of the belief that we must choose a side which we believe would be wrong because then we become embroiled in the inferno of conflict, rather than being a country with the ability to offer a solution,” she said.
Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova.
In April, Abravitova tweeted a video in which she called on South Africa to be on the right “side of history” amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia has bombed our schools, our hospitals, our theatres, and our churches. Our cities are in ruins. Even some of my embassy staff have no homes to return to. You need to be on the right side of history. You cannot allow this brutal war to continue. Please stand up for the people of Ukraine,” she said.
Responding to the video, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the government has requested an opportunity for President Cyril Ramaphosa to speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In response to Abravitova’s video, Monyela tweeted: “Ambassador, you know this is wrong and undiplomatic. You met Dirco diplomats on 3 March. [Our] head of Europe branch several times [and the] president’s international relations adviser.”
Monyela said Deputy Dirco Minister Alvin Botes also met Abravitova.
Ambassador you know this is wrong & undiplomatic. 1. You met @DIRCO_ZA diplomats on 3 March. 2. Head of Europe Branch several times.3. President’s IR Advisor. 4. DM @alvinbotes.We’ve long made a request for HE C Ramaphosa to speak to your President. You’re not responding. https://t.co/b2f7RIY0Tf
— Clayson Monyela (@ClaysonMonyela) April 11, 2022
Furthermore, Pandor said South Africa’s position on the conflict remains unchanged.
“We remain deeply concerned about the continued conflict, the loss of lives and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine. We maintain that in conflict zones, civilian infrastructure and other non-combatants must be protected. Wars end when dialogue begins. It is best to pursue dialogue from the beginning,” she said.
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Pandor also said South Africa maintains its neutrality.
“South Africa is not at war with Russia. South Africa is not at war with Ukraine. The perception that because there is a war between Russia and Ukraine and certain countries in Europe and the US are involved in supplying arms and other material, does not imply that there is a conflict between all of us.”
Previously, Pandor said South Africa could not be seen to be taking sides in the conflict after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because it goes against the nation’s principles.
In February, Dirco issued a statement in which South Africa called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine, in line with the United Nations Charter.
Days later, Pandor backtracked on her earlier statement that Russia should withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine.