Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Belgium is trying to defend the attendance, in Brussels, of Zimbabwe's Trade Minister. A man, who like Mugabe faces a travel ban.

Belgium's foreign affairs ministry said that its decision to grant the banned minister a visa to attend the conference was a diplomatic requirement and "absolutely not political".

"We find ourselves under an obligation in international law to allow [the ACP] to invite representatives of their member states," he said. "It is absolutely not a political case."

Justifying Mumbengegwi's entry for the conference, the spokesman hinted that the minister may have been barred if the choice was Belgium's alone.

"It is not a Belgian issue," he said.

"It is like when the UN are allowed to invite someone to address the general assembly, some of these people are not considered a friend of the US but there is an agreement and the situation is similar here."

British MEP Geoffrey Van Orden disputed the claims. "The ACP is just an EU creation, a conduit for the EU's own aid programmes. So we have the ludicrous situation of an individual banned by the EU, coming to the EU's 'capital', with the host country claiming it has no power to stop this," he said.

"The simple fact is that if EU Governments wanted to prevent Mugabe's henchmen from attending meetings in the EU, they would."

< email | 5/15/2003 03:02:00 PM | link

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