12 European Embassies to Close Monday : Common Mart Considers New Sanctions
The 12 European Economic Community countries will close their embassies in South Africa for one day Monday and are considering new sanctions in response to the government’s new state of emergency, officials said Friday.
Foreign ministers from the Common Market countries are to discuss the issue Monday in Luxembourg.
Lower-level officials met Thursday and Friday in The Hague and agreed on the one-day embassy shutdown as a security precaution, said Andreas de Boekhorst, a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman. He said they also considered other unspecified measures aimed at pressuring the Pretoria government to end apartheid.
Gesture of Concern
Christopher Meyer, chief spokesman in Britain’s Foreign Office, said the embassy closure was also intended as a gesture of concern.
The South African government declared a nationwide state of emergency Thursday, giving police sweeping powers and imposing a news blackout on unrest and anti-government political activity.
That action, combined with the release Wednesday of a Commonwealth report defending the usefulness of economic sanctions against Pretoria, has put the Common Market under pressure to act.
Even so, it appeared highly unlikely that the Common Market would agree any time soon on a comprehensive trade ban against South Africa.
Virtually all the Common Market countries have publicly criticized the emergency declaration and the government’s arrest this week of hundreds of anti-apartheid activists.
Firmer Measures Urged
Denmark and Ireland have been among the most vocal advocates of broader and firmer Common Market economic measures against South Africa. They have failed, however, to win over the main foes of comprehensive trade sanctions, Britain and West Germany, which are South Africa’s most important European trading partners.
London and Bonn have argued that broad Common Market economic sanctions against South Africa would hurt the black population there without assuring a policy change by the government.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on Friday reiterated her opposition to economic sanctions against South Africa, saying in a television interview that she sees “no reason and no evidence” for believing that sanctions would lead to peaceful change and warning that they “could make the violence worse.”
Britain’s Role Crucial
As the single largest source of foreign investment in South Africa, and its third largest supplier of imports, Britain plays a crucial role in the South African economy. Its participation would be a central element in effective sanctions against Pretoria.
In Geneva the World Alliance of Reformed Churches expressed outrage over what it said were more than 2,000 arrests by the South African security forces and called on Christians to pray for the detainees.
Japan said it strongly regrets the state of emergency, while Egyptian minister of state for foreign affairs Butros Butros Ghali said Cairo will argue again for sanctions at a conference on Namibia opening in Paris on Monday.
In the Communist world, the official Soviet news agency Tass said Pretoria’s latest measures show the “agony of a doomed regime.”