Reply by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, to the
Toast Remarks by his Excellency, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Constantinos
Stephanopoulos at the Presidential Palace, Athens, Greece, 24 February 2005.
Excellency, President Stephanopoulos,
Honourable Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis,
Honourable Speaker of Parliament, Anna Psarouda-Benaki,
Mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyannis,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Kalispera! Good evening.
entire delegation and I are truly delighted to have accepted your invitation to
visit the Hellenic Republic. On behalf of the government and people of South Africa,
I convey our warmest greetings to you, your government and the wonderful people
of the Hellenic Republic.
It gives us great pleasure to join you tonight
in the historic city of Athens. It was here, many centuries ago, that the spirit
and ethos of democracy and organised society, in which all people share equally,
And so it is fitting that, in our own celebrations of freedom
and democracy, we also remember those gone before us, our friends who have stood
besides us, with unflinching conviction, during the many years of our struggle
On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, I
wish to take this opportunity to convey our sincere thanks and appreciation to
the Government and people of the Hellenic Republic for their support during the
difficult period of fighting against apartheid.
Our countries share the
noble values and ideals of democracy, justice, peace and security, the rule of
law and the recognition that we cannot sit idle while many of our fellow citizens
the world over, live in abject poverty, in conditions of hunger, instability and
We have taken important steps for the development of our continent,
through our continental programme, the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD), which is our practical plan for the renaissance of our countries and
In this regard, your support in creating a climate to complement
our own efforts will be critical. We are very pleased that during your Presidency
of the EU you fostered closer relation between Europe and Africa advocating for
more support for the development of the African continent.
We also recognise
the constructive role the Hellenic Republic is playing in your region. Indeed,
we believe, as you do, Your Excellency, that stability is a prerequisite for development
Your Excellency, we are encouraged that the relations between
our respective nations continue to prosper in a number of strategic and mutually
beneficial areas. In this regard, we are grateful that our two countries were
able to sign the trade agreement last year, further cementing the good relations
between our two countries.
A practical demonstration of this is the fact
that our bilateral trade has increased substantially since 1994 and is poised
to even grow to higher levels. Because of this potential of the ever-expanding
economic relations, businesspeople from our respective countries are forging closer
ties and I am confident concluding business deals that will benefit our economies.
In this visit, Your Excellency, we have indeed brought a large business delegation
to engage with their counterparts in this Hellenic Republic.
as you step down from office, we wish you well in your retirement and hope that
you will grace our shores again in a more relaxed atmosphere so that you would
have the opportunity to see the beauty of our land. I also promise that when time
allows I will also come back here to explore more this of home of democracy so
as to better appreciate the glorious gift you have given to humanity.
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and
prosperity of His Excellency, President Constantinos Stephanopoulos and to the
continued good relations and friendship between the peoples of the Hellenic Republic
and South Africa.
To our friendship!
Please contact Bheki Khumalo on +27 83 256 9133.
Issued by The Presidency
Private Bag X1000