Speech by Deputy President, Jacob Zuma, at the Official Dinner hosted by his Excellency Prime Minister Adrian Nastase of Bucharest, Romania, 15 September 2004

Your Excellency, Prime Minister Nastase,
Your Excellencies Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellency the South African Ambassador to Romania,
Distinguished guests,

My delegation and I feel greatly honoured to have been invited by His Excellency Prime Minister Adrian Nastase to visit Romania. We have been deeply moved by the warmth of our welcome to Romania and this beautiful city, Bucharest.

We are also privileged to convey to His Excellency President Iliescu and to you Mr Prime Minister, the government and the people of Romania, warm greetings and the best wishes of our own government and people.

Our relations are based on common values, shared interests and sentiments of human solidarity that are mutually beneficial for co-operation. Since the advent of democracy in our country and after the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1991, bilateral relations between our countries have strengthened steadily over the years.

My delegation and I share the hope that our visit to Romania will result in the deepening of these already warm relations. We are more confident of this, following our discussions earlier today, which indicated a convergence of ideas on many issues.

I was pleased that we could broaden the existing legal framework between our countries with the signing of an Agreement on Science and Technology and Technical Co-operation as well as a Memorandum of Understanding on the Statute of the Joint Commission for Economic and Technical Co-operation to complement the already existing Agreements between our two countries.

As an influential country in Central Europe and one of the candidates for European Union membership in the near future, Romania is a valuable partner for co-operation inter alia in the fields of science and technology and trade, which in the wider context, will also benefit the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU).

Your Excellency, while economic relations between Romania and South Africa have increased over the years, these still does not commensurate with the level of our political relations.

It is my understanding that Romania has posted substantial economic growth over the past few years and provides opportunities for mutual bilateral trade and investment, especially in the areas of infrastructure development, tourism, science and technology and many others. I am convinced that this presents us with the opportunity to also take our economic relations to a higher level.

I can assure you that with what we have seen so far during our visit, my colleagues will take the message home that South Africa should increase its efforts in the economic field.

I was privileged to be received this afternoon by His Excellency, President Ion Iliescu for a courtesy call. During this occasion, I handed a message from President Thabo Mbeki to President Iliescu, which emphasizes the good relations between our two countries and our view that there is a wide scope for further expansion of these relations.

Our two countries have much in common as they not only share with each other the burden of poverty and underdevelopment, but also the aspirations of creating a better life for the people of our two countries.

This is a daunting challenge facing us in the immediate future, but one, which will eventually bring great rewards.

As you, Mr Prime Minister, and the honoured guests are aware, our continent, Africa, has set itself the critically important task to achieve its renaissance.

In this context we have boldly said that we will, as a result of our actions, make the 21st Century an African Century. You are as aware as we are of the enormity of the task we face in this regard. In a real sense, we have to address the legacy of a painful and tragic African history that is half-a-millennium old.

To address this legacy successfully we must, among other things, focus on the fundamental issue of the affirmation of our capacity as Africans to determine our own destiny.

What we do from day to day must, in practice, confirm our confidence in ourselves as the makers of our own history. For these reasons, our continent made the correct decision that we must ourselves set the agenda for the transformation and renewal of Africa. This has resulted in the establishment of the African Union and the adoption of its programme for social and economic development, the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

The African continent in the past months took two important steps forward in the struggle to attend to the two related questions of democracy and peace.

Following its ratification by the requisite number of African countries, the Protocol authorising the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament has come into force. This is of great importance to the continuing effort to entrench democracy and human rights in Africa.

I make these comments about Africa, Mr Prime Minister, because we deeply appreciate your country's passionate and selfless efforts and commitment in the past, to work with us to assist us in eventually achieving a peaceful and just South Africa. We wish to convey to yourself and to the government and people of Romania our heartfelt gratitude for the assistance we received in the struggle against apartheid.

That commitment gives us enormous strength as we confront the obstacles we must overcome to achieve the humane goals we share with you. In this context I must also convey our sincere appreciation for your country's efforts in participating in peacekeeping missions to help to bring peace to the continent.

Through you, Mr Prime Minister, I would like to convey the message to the people of Romania that we are determined to ensure that South Africa develops as a non-racial, non-sexist, peaceful and prosperous democracy. We will also contribute whatever we can to help ensure that Africa outgrows her misery. We will do what we have to, to ensure that we do not disappoint the expectations of the international community with regard to these important matters.

In conclusion, Mr Prime Minister, South Africa celebrated its first ten years of democracy earlier by the smooth running of the April 2004 general elections and the high degree of voter turnout. The democratic system in Romania is also firmly established and operating well.

I wish your country well with the upcoming Presidential and parliamentary elections in November 2004. Last but not least I wish to congratulate Romania on its successes during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens where you finished among the top 15 medal winners in the world. A truly remarkable achievement.

Let us please rise and drink a toast to the continued good health of Prime Minister Nastase, to the excellent relations between our two countries, and to friendship between the peoples of South Africa and Romania. To friendship!

Thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
15 September 2004

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