THE European Union (EU) Delegation to Zimbabwe had considered a joint exhibition at the just ended 55th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), but the idea was not followed through amid speculation that the change of dates scuppered the plans.
Head of Delegation ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia told Southern Eye that the idea of a joint EU pavilion was once toyed around by member countries.
“The EU as such has not planned a participation/exhibit at the ZITF in Bulawayo this year. It was considered at a certain point in time to see whether several member states of the EU intended to participate in order to assess the feasibility of a joint EU pavilion,” he said.
“However, this was not followed up as not many EU member states will expose this year. The change of dates has not had any effect on this.
“Several European companies and organisations are exposing at the fair, but on individual or national capacity.”
This year’s edition was moved to April from May and no official reasons for shifting the dates for the exhibition were given.
President Robert Mugabe officially opened the exhibition last Friday and immediately left for the Vatican City for the canonisation of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII who were declared saints of the Roman Catholic Church in an unprecedented double-canonisation mass in St Peter’s Square by Pope Francis I yesterday.
Early this year, the European block partially lifted sanctions on Zimbabwe, but kept restrictions on Mugabe to encourage further progress in political reforms.
The 27-member EU, which imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002 in protest over human rights abuses and violations of democracy under Mugabe, has gradually eased sanctions over the past few years to encourage political reform.
The United States made a return to the annual exhibition after a long absence.
The US has been criticised by the Zimbabwean government for imposing sanctions on the country.