President Cyril Ramaphosa assured Belgium’s King Philip that South Africa would continue to use its influence to attempt to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Ramaphosa received King Philippe and Queen Mathilde on a state visit to Pretoria. This is the first state visit by the Belgian monarch to South Africa.
It aims to strengthen ties between the two countries and promote trade, foreign direct investment and tourism.
President Ramaphosa said the war between Russia and Ukraine triggered the global cost of living crisis. He told King Philippe of Belgium that these were difficult times and reiterated South Africa’s position calls for dialogue to end the conflict.
“The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is of grave concern to us all. As South Africa we continue to emphasize the importance of finding a peace solution to the crisis. As you rightly said in 2013, your majesty dialogue and reconciliation can change the world,” says Ramaphosa.
Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said he was determined to find a solution to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
He explained that the situation in Ukraine is an important foreign policy issue for Europe and will remain so for at least the next month. He further stated that his country is determined to help Ukraine to defend itself.
“It is fundamental to uphold the security of Europe and the international principles of the United Nations Charter. We understand South Africa’s decision to remain non-aligned in the conflict, but we see you as a partner for peace and, given your close ties with Russia, we invite you to do so. Make sure there is a way to peace,” he says to Lahbib.
The Belgian King stressed that Brussels values its unique partnership with South Africa.
“We know your country very well, we have a large number of Belgians who live here. It’s between 10 000 to 15 000 people. South Africa is playing an important role representing Africa as G20 and BRICS that you will preside over soon by this visit we want to emphasize collaboration, we need to increase its in so many sectors and we have a strong delegation,” says King Philippe.
Belgium is among the top ten sources of international tourists to South Africa. The King of Belgium and his delegation will also visit Johannesburg and Cape Town to engage with academics, business and civil society.