Remarks at the State Banquet in honour of The President of the Hellenic Republic, 30 October 2002

Your Excellency,
President Constantinos Stephanopoulus and distinguished members of your delegation,
Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa,
Madame Speaker and Madame Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces,
His Eminence the Patriarch of Alexandria and all-Africa,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Leaders of our political parties,
Premier of the Western Cape,
Mayor of the Metropolitan City of Cape Town,
Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps,
Leaders and members of the Greek community,
Friends, ladies and Gentlemen:

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you, Mr. President and your delegation to our country. I trust that you will enjoy your stay among us and see something of our country. I am certain that Your Excellency's important visit will further strengthen the good relations that exist between our countries as well as the relations from people to people.

As you are aware, Mr President, our country and continent have made the determination that this first century of the third millennium should be an African Century. To achieve this objective, we have spoken of the need for an African Renaissance.

Among other things, Mr President, this has drawn attention to the ancient interaction between Africa and Greece that contributed so much to the evolution and development of all humanity. Those ancient times also continue to communicate the message that it is both possible and necessary for Africa and Europe for the common good.

Inspired by the example handed down to us by our forebears, we meet here in Cape Town united in our common determination to respond to the demanding challenge to find new ways of accelerating the process of achieving a better life for all, especially the millions of poor people in our country, our continent and the rest of the world.

In this regard, I am confident that when the Hellenic Republic assumes the Presidency of the European Union next year, we will have the important possibility to give further impetus to the joint actions between Africa and Europe around the questions of the all-round development of Africa and the poverty eradication, as represented for instance, by NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

In this regard, we were very pleased to hear that the Hellenic Republic will ratify the South Africa-EU Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) before the end of this year. We trust that this action will encourage all other EU Member Sates to follow in your footsteps.

Speaking both for our country and the African Union, we look forward keenly to the Africa-European Union Summit in Lisbon next April, which will be chaired by your country, Mr. President, and trust that this important gathering will add greatly to the deepening of the inter-continental partnership initiated at the Cairo Summit.

In this regard, I am privileged to express our warm thanks to you, Mr President, for the inspiring remarks you made earlier today, when you addressed the Joint Sitting of our National Houses of Parliament.

I would also like to take advantage of this occasion, Mr President, to convey our deep appreciation of the role played by the Greek population of our country to contribute to the transformation of our country into a true common home for all our people, regardless of race, colour, gender or historical origin.

These fellow South Africans also play an important role in further strengthening the relations between our countries and peoples.

I am very happy, Mr. President, that while you are here, you will further encourage our Hellenic community to continue to play a constructive role in the struggle for the reconstruction and development of our country.

Your important visit to our country will make a significant contribution to the further strengthening of our bilateral relations for the benefit of both our countries and peoples.

This also relates to our ever-growing economic relations, which have the possibility to expand further in all fields, including trade, investment and technological cooperation. I am certain that the seminar between the considerable business delegation accompanying you, Mr President, and our own business people will spur the further development of this bilateral economic cooperation.

Your visit has also given us the possibility to continue our dialogue on international and global matters of common concern. Because our countries proceed from a shared value system, as before, we have agreed on the major matters of the day.

These include the challenge of peace in Africa, the reunification of Cyprus, the resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and the need for everybody to respect the view of the nations of the world that the issue of Iraq can only be resolved by and through the United Nations and its Security Council.

The criminal bombing campaign in Gauteng Province last night confirms the need for our own people and the peoples of the world to maintain their resolve to act against terrorism. I would also like to assure you, Mr President, that the criminals responsible for last night's incidents will not succeed to undermine or disrupt the peace for our country and all our people for which many of our people laid down their lives.

In conclusion I would like to say that we are excited that in 2004 the Olympic Games will go back to their original home, the Hellenic Republic. Mr. President, we will ensure that we send a strong delegation of athletes so that they help further to deepen the bonds of friendship among the youth and peoples of the world.

May I request that we all rise and drink a toast to the health of His Excellency, President Constantinos Stephanopoulus and friendship between the peoples of the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of South Africa. To friendship!

Thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa