Reply by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, to the
Toast Remarks by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis
Sassou-Nguesso, on the Occasion of the State Banquet, Palais Du Peuple, Brazzaville,
Republic of Congo, 30 November 2005.
Your Excellency, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso
and Madame Antoinette Sassou-Nguesso,
Your Excellencies Ministers,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
My wife, my entire delegation and I are delighted to have
been invited by you to visit this beautiful country of the Republic of Congo.
We thank you for your warm hospitality and the cordial manner in which we have
been received by the people of this country.
I am very pleased to convey
the warmest greetings of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa
to Your Excellency, the Government and wonderful people of the Republic of Congo.
This is a very historic visit as it is the first time that we pay a State
visit to the Republic of Congo. However, the relations between our two countries
go back a long way to the days of South Africa's struggle against apartheid.
are therefore here, also to thank you, Your Excellency, and the people of the
Republic of Congo, for your steadfast and unwavering solidarity with the masses
of the people of South Africa, which enabled us to gain our freedom from apartheid.
Clearly, your continued support and solidarity with your brothers and sisters
in South Africa enriches our efforts to accelerate the process of building a truly
democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society.
Equally, we would like to
assure you of the full support of the people of South Africa as you engage in
a continued struggle against poverty and underdevelopment and your efforts to
reconstruct and develop this beautiful country.
We are encouraged by the
positive developments that have taken place in this country to move away from
the destructive fury of the civil war and conflict towards reconstruction, development
and national reconciliation. We stand ready to do whatever is necessary, within
our limited capacity, to ensure that we further help to consolidate this movement
Your Excellency, we were indeed very happy to receive the Honourable
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Congo, Rodolphe Adada, to South
Africa in October 2001 because this was an important process of formalising our
As you are aware, this was followed by an official visit by South
Africa's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to the Republic
of Congo in November 2003. On this occasion, a General Cooperation Agreement was
signed between our two Ministers of Foreign Affairs. This agreement created a
legal framework for further cooperation and also provides the basis for the establishment
of a Joint Cooperation Commission between our two countries.
It is our
pleasure that during this visit we will sign important agreements that would further
strengthen our relations. These are:
- Protocol on Regular Diplomatic
- Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments;
- General Agreement on Health Cooperation; and
- Letter of Intent
on Cultural Cooperation.
Your Excellency, we would like to take this
opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to work with you, your Government and people
to confront the common challenges of poverty and underdevelopment in a partnership
predicated on mutually-beneficial cooperation.
We believe there are many
areas in which we must cooperate. These include agriculture, forestry, fishing,
mining, energy, telecommunications, infrastructure development, education, health,
science and technology and arts and culture.
We hope that this partnership
will demonstrate what we, as Africans, can achieve to provide a better life for
our peoples, relying on our own intellectual and material resources, in keeping
with the vision contained in the Constitutive Act of the African Union and Nepad.
Excellency, I would like to use this opportunity to commend you for the role you
and your Government and the people of the Republic of Congo are playing to ensure
lasting peace and stability in the region, particularly, in Sao Tomé and
Principé, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
this region, like the rest of our continent, needs peace and security. We need
reconstruction and development. And we need partnerships, as Africans, to ensure
that the programme of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's Development
We need to do everything possible to realise the common
dream of turning the 21st into an African century.
In this regard, I would
like to assure you, Your Excellency, that South Africa is ready and willing to
work together with the Republic of Congo and other sister countries on our continent.
more I wish to thank you very much for your hospitality.
Ladies and gentlemen:
rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency,
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Madame Antoinette Sassou-Nguesso, to the prosperity
of the citizens of this country and to the eternal bond of friendship between
the people of the Republic of Congo and South Africa. To good friendship!