Statement on the Announcement of Abdication of His Majesty King Albert II of the Kingdom of Belgium

04 July, 2013

The South African government has taken note of the announcement of abdication from the throne made by His Majesty, King Albert II of the Kingdom of Belgium on 3 July 2013. King Albert, who has reigned for 20 years and just turned 79, has been a symbol of unity in Belgium. King Albert will hand over the Crown to his eldest son Prince Philippe on the 21st of July 2013.

On hearing the news of King Albert's abdication, President Jacob Zuma expressed his and South Africa's most profound gratitude to His Majesty for his personal role in strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation that happily exist between South Africa and Belgium.

President Zuma also paid tribute to King Albert for his role in the socio-economic development of Belgium.

Belgium is South Africa's 12th largest export destination globally, 4th in the EU, with total exports from South Africa to Belgium at R15.3 billion and total imports at R10.3 billion in 2012. Belgium ranks as the 6th biggest investor in South Africa, and 4th biggest source of official development from Europe, with a total €50 million committed until 2016. Belgium also remains an important source of tourism for South Africa, with a record tourism figure of 44 125 in 2012, placing her in the 15th position globally as a long haul source of tourism.

President Zuma stated "Your Majesty, we are grateful for the interest and enthusiasms you have shown to the South Africa-Belgium relations over the last two decades of your reign. We will continue to expand and deepened our ties of friendship and cooperation with your heir, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Philippe. We wish you good health and an enjoyable retirement".

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, 082 884 5974.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation

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