The Fourth Meeting of the BRICS Deputy Ministers on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region kicked off in Pretoria on Tuesday morning.
The meeting, which is chaired by International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers, is expected to discuss the current situation in these two regions, including the developments in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and the Middle East Peace Process.
Speaking at the opening session, Landers said the MENA region is especially important because the countries are at a critical juncture in their history as they struggle to resolve and contain their conflicts and extremism.
Since 2011, several countries in the Middle East and North Africa have experienced waves of revolts based on demands for political, social and economic reform.
These conflicts are deeply complex, Landers said.
“The reason we are deliberating on the Middle East and North Africa in a separate meeting is that what happens there has an impact on our national interests, as brothers of global peace, security and stability. It has become more critical since the 2011 Arab Uprising because conflicts of diversion in the Middle East and North Africa have spread into other regions,” said Landers.
The MENA region is generally important to South Africa because it is dependent on the region for oil and it is a destination for high-value products, which in turn supports industrial development and employment objectives at home.
In their opening remarks, BRICS country representatives expressed serious concerns about the political and security situation and escalation of the armed conflict in Libya and the negative consequences it has on the region.
They also expressed their concern with regard to the continuing violence in Syria, especially the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and growing threat of international terrorism and extremism.
Furthermore, they stressed their concern for the humanitarian impact of the ongoing military operation for the liberation of Mosul, while they reaffirmed their commitment to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The BRICS representatives reiterated that the crises should be resolved in accordance with international law and the UN Charter.
They said resolutions should not resort to force or external interference but rather through broad national dialogue with due respect for independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region.
The Deputy Ministers are setting the stage for the 10th BRICS Summit taking place in July under the theme ‘BRICS in Africa: Collaboration with Developing Countries for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution’.