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[RPA] THE FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY OF SOUTH AFRICA TOWARDS THE INDIAN OCEAN REGION FOLLOWING THE END OF THE COLD WAR
Jakub ZajÄ…czkowski, Instytut StosunkĂłw MiÄ™dzynarodowych, Uniwersytet Warszawski; 2003 03 15; Warsaw University Conference celebrating 'The tenth anniversary of the abolition of apartheid regime in the Republic of South Africa'
The Indian Ocean is the smallest of the world’s three oceans. It covers an area of 76 170 thousand square kilometers, its average depth is 3897 meters, and the total length of coastline is 66 526 kilometers. In the Indian Ocean region there are 36 countries inhabited by over 2 billion people.
Although most of these states are poorly developed, the region itself is rich in natural resources and sources of energy. For example, 75% of the world’s petroleum deposits are located in the Persian Gulf region, while the Indian Ocean bed holds the most abundant deposits of manganese ore in the world.
Furthermore, the Indian Ocean plays a significant role in global trade. It includes major sea lines of communication and shipping routes. Two thirds of all sea traffic leads across it. More than half of the world’s petroleum and one third of all goods shipped by sea go along Indian Ocean routes. It is worth mentioning here that recent years have seen the growing magnitude of interregional trade. Its volume has been increasing by the year, which is a result of the liberalization of trade and economic transformation in most of the Indian Ocean states.
Thus the world’s major powers, as well as regional powers like South Africa, are making all necessary efforts to counteract or eliminate any threats to the free flow of trade through the Indian Ocean straits.
2. The background and principles of South African foreign policy towards the Indian Ocean region
During the 1990s, South Africa realized that in order to seek the role of a leading power in the region, it must fully take advantage of the potential the Indian Ocean has to offer. In the view of an African political scientists, the Indian Ocean, which is gateway to several seas, will definitely play a considerable role in shaping international relations in the region.
A majority of South Africa’s foreign trade exchange takes place along shipping routes on the Indian Ocean. They link South Africa with countries in the Persian Gulf, South and South-East Asia and the Far East. More importantly, petroleum and petroleum-related products are transported from the Middle East to South Africa along Indian Ocean routes.
Moreover, sea transport plays a major role in the South African economy. The amount of cargo handled in sea ports exceeds 100 million tons per year. The main ports are: Durban, Cape Town and Saldanha.
South Africa’s location, as well as the importance of the Indian Ocean in international relations, makes it necessary for South African foreign and security policy to take into account the issue of security in the Indian Ocean region, who exerts huge influence on the security and interests of South Africa.
3. The geopolitical situation and new challenges following the Cold War
The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR altered the balance of power on the global stage, shaping a new geopolitical environment for the countries of the Indian Ocean region, but also shaping new requirements concerning their mutual relations. Among external factors, there was the end of superpower rivalry in the Indian Ocean, a considerable reduction of the Russian fleet on the Indian and Pacific Ocean, the dynamic economic development of China, economic changes in South-East Asia states and their rapid development. Internal factors also played a major role: the political and economic transformation of South Africa, above all, the abolishment of apartheid; the election of Nelson Mandela as president, economic reforms, the first free elections in 1994, the adoption of a new constitution. Thus a new environment was created, conducive to cooperation among the states of the Indian Ocean region.
The new environment and geopolitical situation, described above, significantly affected South Africa’s policy towards the Indian Ocean region.
Moreover, during the 1990s and the beginning of the present century, certain events and processes took place which were contributing factors to a more active South Africa’s foreign policy in the region. These were political, as well as economic factors.
There was an increase in interregional trade. The main contributors to this increase were South Africa, India, Australia, Kenya, Mauritius, Singapore and Oman. There was also an increase in the Indian Ocean’s share in the global trade volume, from 9% in 1988 to roughly 14% in 2000. This has brought about a greater importance of Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs), and consequently, improved security in the whole Indian Ocean region.
During the 1990s other factors and threats also resulted in a more active South African policy in the Indian Ocean region. South Africa’s Exclusive Economic Zone, rich in natural resources, is becoming increasingly exploited by illegal fishing. There has also been an increase in the level of sea pollution in the area. The government in Pretoria faces serious challenges in the Indian Ocean region in the form of piracy, drug trafficking, arms trade and terrorism.
4. South Africa and the Indian Ocean region following the end of the Cold War – a new beginning
In order to meet the challenges and threats which appeared in the 1990s in the Indian Ocean region, South Africa has undertaken a more active policy in the region, at a bilateral as well as multilateral level. It consisted of adjusting currently existing alliances and shaping bilateral relations on new foundations, and undertaking actions to transform the regional order.
Following the end of the Cold War, South Africa set out to redefine its interests, and thus in foreign policy this meant an active involvement in the Indian Ocean region. In the early 1990s, Pretoria did not have a coherent and comprehensive policy towards this region. Its activities were focused on particular sub-regions of the Indian Ocean region. South Africa has placed emphasis on developing economic relations with countries of the region. Economic matters, regional security, and above all, the safety of sea lines of communication , ensuring an unhindered flow of shipping along these lines, and jointly acting against threats such as piracy and terrorism; these have been the focal points of South African foreign policy towards countries of the Indian Ocean region. The problem of new challenges and threats was also the subject of talks between representatives of South Africa and other powers.
4.1 Bilateral relations
As far as bilateral relations are concerned, South Africa’s relations with India should be considered crucial. The end of apartheid in South Africa, the establishment of full diplomatic, economic and cultural relations between South Africa and India in 1993 created enormous opportunities for closer ties between Pretoria and New Delhi. During the 1990s, South Africa became India’s main political ally (although there were some differences, e.g. connected with the signing of the NPT Treaty) and one of its chief economic partners (from 1992 to 2003 the value of trade volume increased from 1.7 million to over 1 billion US dollars) in the Indian Ocean region.
South Africa has discussed the problems of the Indian Ocean region with other states of the region, such as the Persian Gulf states and African countries situated on the Indian Ocean.
4.2 Relations with major powers
When analyzing South Africa’s policy towards the Indian Ocean region, we should also direct our attention to how it was affected by South Africa’s relations with major powers. Although the end of the Cold War brought an end to a period of Russian –American rivalry on the Indian Ocean, the main actors of the global stage, i.e. the USA, Russia, China, France, Britain, have closely observed the developments in the Indian Ocean region.
The most powerful naval force on the Indian Ocean still belongs to the United States. Washington has concentrated this force in the western part of the Indian Ocean, mainly in the area of the Persian Gulf, and following September 11, 2001, in the central part of the Ocean, enlarging its base on Diego Garcia.
South Africa has declared a willingness to cooperate with western powers, most importantly with the USA, in supporting economic reform in the Indian Ocean region, and also in securing the safety of SLOCs. It was essential for South Africa that the region did not become a stage for the rivalry between global political actors.
Issues of security in the region of the Indian Ocean, new threats and challenges, the free flow of shipping along SLOCs, etc, were the subject of talks between Pretoria and representatives of Britain, France, Japan, the USA, Russia and China.
4.3 Multilateral relations
Apart from bilateral activities, South Africa has undertaken an active role in existing regional organizations and supports new initiatives of similar nature.
In November, 1993, the South African foreign minister, Pik Botha, during a visit to India put forward the idea of creating an economic bloc of the Indian Ocean region, and suggested calling a conference of states of the Indian Ocean region in Durban in August, 1994. India considered the initiative of 1993 to be premature, but its attitude became more favorable following president Nelson Mandela’s visit to New Delhi in January, 1995. Finally, in 1997, with the serious involvement of South Africa, the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC) was established. At present IOR-ARC consists of 14 member-states: Australia, Singapore, India, Oman, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mozambique. The key aim of the association is to strengthen economic ties between the member-states. Political and strategic issues were excluded on purpose, at least at inter-governmental level. Such a solution was strongly supported by South Africa and India (by comparison, Australia wanted IOR-ARC to focus on political matters).
The newly created IOR-ARC is not and must not be an end in itself. It is one of several means for the realization of South Africa’s national aims in the Indian Ocean region. By actively participating in the association, South Africa has expanded its economic, political and cultural relations with states not only belonging to this region.
South African policy in the Indian Ocean region during the 1990s and early 2000s was shaped by structural changes in the international system, as well as external factors, i.e. political and systemic reforms, economic reforms, the liberalization of trade, ensuring the security of energy sources. In the new international environment, South Africa’s foreign policy towards the Indian Ocean region had to take into account common values, ties and interests, as well as the aspirations and needs of other countries of the region and its own. As a consequence, the relations between South Africa and Indian Ocean states have undergone and are still undergoing dynamic transformations.
All these expectations and challenges should be met by South Africa’s new policy towards the Indian Ocean region, which consists of elements of political, economic, cultural and scientific cooperation. South Africa stresses the importance of economic development of the whole region, and strengthening economic ties with countries of the region. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation should also lead to greater security – especially for shipping routes on the Indian Ocean, which have a huge importance for the whole region. It should be also noted that cooperation is considered as one of the key steps to building closer relations between countries of the South.
wersja do wydruku
Michael Emerson, Approaches to the Stabilisation of the Caucasus, "Caucasian Regional Studies", Volume 5, Issue 1 & 2, 2000
Alexandru Liono, The Chechen Problem: Sources, Developments and Future Prospects, "Caucasian Regional Studies", Volume 5, Issue 1 & 2, 2000
Tomas Valasek, Trouble in North Caucasus, "Weekly Defense Monitor" [Center for Defense Information] ,Volume 3, Issue 32 z 19 sierpnia 1999
Raimon Panikkar, The Dharma of India, World Affairs, Vol. 6, Number 1 (January-March 2002)
Marin Strmecki, Bush's Approach to North Korea is Appropriate and Necessary, The PacNet Newsletter 2002, The Center for Strategic and International Studies z 27 lutego 2002
Jon B. Wolfsthal, North Korea: Hard Line is Not the Best Line, Proliferation Brief, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Los Angeles Times z 7 marca 2001)
[RPA] Apartheid and South African Literature in English: Racial Relations and Beyond - a Few Remarks
Janusz Krzywicki, 2003 03 15, Warsaw University Conference celebrating 'The tenth anniversary of the abolition of apartheid regime in the Republic of South Africa'
Katarzyna Utrata, Kolegium MISH, Uniwersytet Warszawski 2003 03 15, Warsaw University Conference celebrating 'The tenth anniversary of the abolition of apartheid regime in the Republic of South Africa'
2003 03 15, Warsaw University Conference celebrating 'The tenth anniversary of the abolition of apartheid regime in the Republic of South Africa'
Weronika Kloc, 2003 03 15, Warsaw University Conference celebrating 'The tenth anniversary of the abolition of apartheid regime in the Republic of South Africa'
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