Toast by Deputy President Jacob Zuma, at the Official Dinner hosted in honour of Vice President Angel Marin, 2 December 2004

Your Excellency, Vice President Marin,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Esteemed guests,

Let me once again, extend our warmest welcome to you Excellency Mr Vice President, and your delegation in our country.

It is an honour for us to host you, especially given the deep historical relations between our two countries.

I recall with fond memories my visit to Bulgaria in September 2000, the constructive discussion we had in Sofia and the pleasant time we spent in the historic city of Plovdiv. That visit served to further cement the friendship and comradeship between our two nations.

Your Excellency, the challenges that face the world, such as international security and the eradication of poverty, put pressure on us to double our efforts to achieve our goals, at a bilateral as well as multilateral level.

South Africa and Bulgaria have much in common as the two countries not only share the burden of poverty and underdevelopment, but also the aspirations of creating a better life for our people.

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

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

In the real sense, we have to address the legacy of a painful and tragic African history that is half-a-millennium old. For these reasons, we decided as Africans that we must 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 and a host of other organs of the AU.

With regards to bilateral co-operation, Your Excellency, we are certainly making progress in enhancing economic linkages as well as people to people co-operation between our two countries.

I was pleased that we could broaden the existing legal framework between our countries with the signing of agreements today.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Police Co-operation; an Agreement on Co-operation on Health Care and Medical Science; an Agreement on Co-operation in the Fields of Culture and Arts and an Agreement on Co-operation in the Field of Sport and Recreation were signed.

At the same time, both our countries have ratified the Convention on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income.

As a strategic and influential country in Central Europe and one of the candidates for European Union membership in the near future, we regard Bulgaria as a valuable partner for co-operation in all fields which in a wider context; will also benefit the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the African Union.

In conclusion, Your Excellency, South Africa is celebrating its ten years of democracy this year.

In celebrating our freedom, we are mindful of the fact that our freedom was made possible not only by the sacrifices of South Africans, but by millions of ordinary men and women of the world.

On this occasion it is appropriate to reflect on Bulgaria's role in the decolonisation of African countries, when it supported the liberation movements during Africa's struggle against colonialism, imperialism and apartheid.

I make these comments because we deeply appreciated your country's passionate and selfless efforts and commitment in the past to work with us to assist us in eventually achieving our liberation.

May I invite you, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, to rise and join me in a toast to the good health of our two Presidents, and to growing ties and friendship between South Africa and Bulgaria.

I thank you.

Enquiries: Lakela Kaunda
Cell: 082 7822575
Zanele Mngadi
Cell: 082 7819332

Issued by: The Presidency
2 December 2004

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa