EU resumes aid to Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa: the aid marks a significant step towards improving ties
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa: the aid marks a significant step towards improving ties

The European Union (EU) has given Zimbabwe €234m, it said early this week, the first time the government has received EU aid since 2002.
The EU has gradually eased biting sanctions to encourage political reform, although it has kept an asset freeze and a travel ban on President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace, as well as an arms embargo.
Since imposing the sanctions, the EU has shunned the government, and restricted its funding to charities.
The EU ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philippe van Damme, said during a signing ceremony that the agreement opened a new chapter in the bloc’s relationship with Zimbabwe, but cautioned that new problems could still emerge in future.
‘Does this mean that everything is suddenly sorted out and that we are entering a new honeymoon? No, we have cleared some obstacles in our partnership, and as in any partnership new problems may emerge, old problems may reappear,’ he said.
President Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) party has long demanded the complete removal of EU sanctions it denounces as illegal.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said the aid marked a significant step towards improving ties but that sanctions on  Mugabe and his wife would hurt full normalisation.
‘As long as the CE remains under sanctions, our relations remain poisoned and unproductive,’ he said.
Half of the money would be released this year, and the rest would be paid gradually until 2020, van Damme said.

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