For its own good, SA must take the regional lead against Russia

This article appeared in the Opinion and Analysis section of the Sunday Times Daily (SA) on 27/02/2022

In the cacophony of diplomatic noise that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, SA’s swift statement released by the department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) hours after the start of the invasion and calling out Russia directly went largely unnoticed.

Unique among Brics, its underlying tone was notably different in its directness. The change in tone was even noticed by the Russian embassy which, in its usual cold, curt and cutting fashion, responded on social media with the simple sentence: “Kindly refrain from interfering.”

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Russian-Ukrainian war may be the boon SA has been waiting for

The article appeared in the Opinion and Analysis section of Business Day (SA) on 27/02/22

The biggest crisis in Europe since World War 2 has sent financial markets on another dizzying roller-coaster ride over the past week. The conflagration in Ukraine has had economists ripping up their forecasts and sent them back to the drawing board.  Predictions were already battered by the uncertainties brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent supply-chain bottlenecks. 

The dominant consensus that is emerging is one of doom and gloom for Africa, with rising prices of crude oil and food staples, especially wheat, feeding into existing instability. This is ominous given the number of military coups already witnessed recently in and around the Sahel region. One need not look too far back in history — just a decade, to 2011-2012 — for a period when a spike in prices caused civil unrest from Nigeria to North Africa and stoked the Arab Spring.

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At the forefront of Greece’s new foreign policy drive: First-hand accounts from the Greek community in Libya

An edited version of this article appeared in my regular column in the Sept/Oct 2021 ed of Greek Business File Magazinehttps://www.economia.gr/en/first-hand-accounts-from-the-greek-community-in-libya/

In November 2019, Greece was spurred into its biggest foreign policy shift in a generation.  Borne out of the signing of the now-infamous Memorandum of Understanding between Libya and Turkey on delimiting maritime jurisdictions that encroached on Greece’s internationally-recognised maritime boundaries,  Greece quickly scrambled to re-discover diplomatic and economic ties that had been allowed to decaypretty much since Greece turned its focus towards Europe in the 80s.  Now after two years, it’s hyperactive foreign policy drive casts a wide net that encompasses vaccine diplomacy in countries as far afield as Rwanda, Kenya and Iran to joining the French-led peacekeeping mission in the Sahel.  But the epicentre of this renewed push is still very much where it all began in Libya.

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SA must clean up its act in Africa – Its future depends on it

This article appeared in Sunday Times Daily (South Africa) in the Opinion and Analysis section on 31/08/2021:

https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times-daily/opinion-and-analysis/2021-08-31-george-philipas–sa-must-clean-up-its-act-in-africa-its-future-depends-on-it/

It has certainly been an active 18 months or so for President Cyril Ramaphosa and his foreign policy pivot to Africa.  As Chairperson of the African Union (A.U) last year and at the G20 summit in November, he championed decisive measures to counteract the impact of the pandemic on Africa as a whole.  Seeking debt relief, increased vaccine procurement and waivers on vaccine patents to encourage domestic African production.

And just last month, South Africa deployed 1500 South African troops making up the bulk of the multinational force under SADC command to counter the growing threat of an Islamic insurgency in northern Mozambique.  

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A New Chapter in Greek-African relations or just a flash in the pan?

An edited version of this article appeared in Greek Business File (July/August 2021 issue):

A new chapter in Greek-African relations or a flash in the pan?

When Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Dendias heralded a new chapter in relations between Africa and Greece to a gathered host of African ambassadors for Africa Day to mark the establishment of the African Union late last month, it hardly made waves.  Statements of good intention towards the oft-neglected continent are nothing new.  But a flurry of recent diplomatic activity, including a new diplomatic mission in Dakar, Senegal and the announcement that Greece will contribute to the French-led peacekeeping mission in the Sahel, would suggest that Dendias’s assertion might this time actually be backed by action.

Continue reading “A New Chapter in Greek-African relations or just a flash in the pan?”