Address at the Official Dinner hosted by Prime Minister Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, 14 October 2004

Your Excellency, Prime Minister Erdogan,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Members of the Diplomatic Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight we have the opportunity to dine together and to celebrate after a hard day's work.

This morning we paid homage to the Great Founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who introduced the philosophy of "Peace at home, Peace in the World", which Turkey faithfully adheres to in spite of the turbulent environment surrounding her. South Africa, as a peace-loving nation, also subscribes to this philosophy. In a world plagued by conflict and polarisation, we are both facing a major challenge to uphold this philosophy.

In sharing this philosophy we both are faced with the crucial challenge to restore confidence in the multilateral system as the only legitimate alternative to unilateralism. Unilaterism itself has become a threat to international security and stability.

Excellency, we salute Turkey's continuous efforts to strengthen multilaterism and would like to assure you of our support in this regard.

We have noted with appreciation that Turkey gives substance to its support for multilaterism by contributing to internationally sanctioned peacekeeping operations, including in Africa.

As I have elaborated earlier today, it is crucial to resolve conflict peacefully in Africa within the context of the African Union and its programmes, including the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

It is our intention to take the renewal of the continent further, in order to break the endless cycles of poverty, war and misery that have plagued our continent for so long, therefore we are actively involved in the efforts to ensure that sustainable development on the African continent goes from strength to strength.

Excellency, we are especially pleased with your vocal support of NEPAD and the AU. South Africa would like to call on Turkey to intensify her initiatives in Africa within the framework of her Africa Outreach Policy, particularly with regard to the mutual exploitation of joint opportunities by Turkey and Africa. We know that we can rely on you as partners on this noble journey.

Excellency, as countries with developing economies we are also facing major economic international challenges, namely, not to be marginalised in terms of trade and commercial issues. As emerging markets and major exporters to the European Union we cannot afford to be excluded from these markets, especially concerning our agricultural products. South Africa and Turkey as members of the G21 should strengthen our efforts and join forces to address this crucial challenge.

We have noted with interest the vast progress that Turkey has made to further broaden democracy under your able leadership in such a short period and we commend your efforts.

Furthermore, we have also taken note that Turkey has been on the European Union accession road since 1987 and we wish you all the best and every success in your negotiations with the EU, which will start at the end of 2004 or early in 2005.

Excellency, as you are aware, we in South Africa have struggled a long time and made hard sacrifices to finally rid our country from apartheid.

Next year, we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our democracy, political stability, economic growth and the improvement of the lives of the poor in our country.

At the same time South Africa has assumed its full responsibilities in the international community and relations with a large number of countries have been duly strengthened.

Today we have sown the seeds that will significantly strengthen the relations between South Africa and Turkey. Tomorrow in Instanbul we will engage on specific economic co-operation matters, with our Turkish counterparts and I am sure that the results will be substantive and sustainable.

As partners in the international arena I trust that we will be able to also strengthen multilateralism, peace and security in the world and in our respective regions. I am confident that our respective peoples will pick the fruits of our bilateral and multilateral partnership as we move further into the 21st Century.

Excellency, allow me, on behalf of the Government and the People of South Africa, to use this opportunity to congratulate the Government and people of Turkey on the forthcoming 80th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Turkish Republic on 29 October. We wish you well.

In conclusion, I wish to express my sincere appreciation to you and your colleagues for your kind hospitality extended to my delegation and I and for contributing to the success of this visit to Turkey.

Your Excellency, I am looking forward to receiving you in South Africa in the near future.

I thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa