Sanctions Action Delayed by European Communities
The European Communities postponed a decision Monday on whether to respond with economic sanctions to the nationwide state of emergency imposed by the South African government, officials reported.
Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of West Germany said that he and the other ministers agreed on the need for a “common response.”
Sources in the delegations said the Netherlands appealed for a joint ban on imports of South African fruit, vegetables and wine, but the foreign ministers could agree only to have lower-level officials draw up a list of recommended measures.
Bill Nolan, spokesman for Ireland, said that his government will unilaterally cut off imports of fruits and vegetables on grounds that forced labor is used to produce them.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Britain and West Germany were the most vocal opponents of broad, mandatory economic sanctions, which they consider to be ineffective. Those two countries and the United States, which also opposes tough sanctions, account for most of the foreign investment in South Africa.
Geoffrey Howe, Britain’s foreign secretary, told reporters after the meeting that his government remains opposed to “comprehensive economic boycotts” because “they don’t work.”
Howe told reporters “a number of other countries” support his position that a general economic boycott is unwise and unnecessary, but he did not name the countries. “The purpose must be to bring down apartheid and not the South African economy,” he said.
Because the foreign ministers were unable to agree on sanctions, the question will confront a Common Market summit meeting scheduled June 26-27.
Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek of the Netherlands, the communities current chairman, said that delegates from member countries will draw up a list of possible actions for submission to the summit.
The European Communities imposed economic and political sanctions last September that were largely symbolic, including withdrawal of military envoys and moves to discourage cultural and scientific exchanges.
Meantime in Washington, about 300 demonstrators protested apartheid at a rally near the South African Embassy.
Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) said that the white majority in the United States “stands in solidarity with the black majority in South Africa,” and he called on Congress to enact tougher sanctions against that country.
Randall Robinson, director of the TransAfrica lobby, declared that if the international community does not “act now, there’ll be a holocaust in South Africa.”
Seventeen protesters were taken away by police.
On Capitol Hill, Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, warned Pretoria that unless it yields to a plea by President Reagan and the Western allies, the United States will be forced to tighten economic sanctions.