Remarks by Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe at the Farewell
Function in Honour of the Departing Ambassador of Gabon, His Excellency Mr Paul
Bie Eyene, Cynthis's Restaurant, Pretoria, 28 June 2005
Ambassador Bie Eyene
Excellencies and Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen,
is always a sad occasion when we have to say goodbye to those who have become
part of out lives. The diplomatic life is one characterised by making new friendships
and bidding farewells. This evening, we bid "adieu" to Ambassador Paul
Bie Eyene of Gabon, and his wife, Estelle, who will be taking up new responsibilities
in the Russian Federation.
I believe that Ambassador Bie Eyene can look
back with satisfaction on his four and a half years in South Africa. During that
time, it is clear that South Africa has significantly increased its presence in
the Central African region, by opening additional Missions and by placing officials
in many other countries, as precursors to further openings. Our Embassy in Gabon
was for many years the only SA representation in the region. As it was tasked
with maintaining relations with five neighbouring countries as well, the opening
of new Missions has left the SA Embassy in Libreville free to concentrate more
closely on Gabon and strengthening relations with your country.
with Ambassador Bie Eyene, our Ambassador in Gabon, and his predecessor, have
been able to ensure that 5 Agreements have been signed between South Africa and
Gabon since the end of 2003. In addition, 4 more Agreements are expected to be
signed in August 2005, during the official visit of President Mbeki to the Republic
of Gabon. These Agreements concern Trade, Tourism, Merchant Shipping, Education
and Culture. During her visit to Gabon in November 2003, Minister Dlamini Zuma
was able to express her appreciation to President Omar Bongo Ondimba for his activities
in bringing peace and stability to the Central African Region. South Africa also
welcomes Gabon's accession to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and its
firm support for the NEPAD Programme.
Ambassador Bie Eyene and Mrs Bie
Eyene have also played an active part in the social and cultural life of South
Africa during their sojourn here. Mrs Bie Eyene has played a leading role in the
activities of the African Diplomatic Women's Group of which she was the first
President and the Embassy of Gabon has hosted a number of functions related to
In short, they have significantly raised the profile of
Gabon in South Africa and contributed to the strengthening of relations between
our two countries.
In conclusion, may I extend my sincere gratitude on behalf
of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to you for the good work you have done in fostering
warm relations between our countries. Ambassador, we wish you all of the best
for your future endeavours and know that South Africa will always have a true
friend in you.
Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen, please join
me in a toast to His Excellency, Ambassador Paul Bie Eyene!