Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Sue van
der Merwe on the Occasion of the Farewell Function of Ambassador Marko upanic,
Tuesday, 06 December 2005.
Your Excellency Ambassador upanic
and members of the Diplomatic Corps
Colleagues and members of Government Departments
leaders and members of the media
Ladies and Gentleman
again, we bid farewell to a colleague and a friend. His Excellency Ambassador
upanic is scheduled to complete his tour of duty later this month after
a stay of more than four years in South Africa. I understand that you will be
joining the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the next stage of what I
am sure will continue to be an illustrious diplomatic career.
I feel greatly
honoured to present my congratulations to you Ambassador on your new appointment
and I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
has represented his country in South Africa with distinction. We have known him
to be unfailingly cheerful and always the immaculate diplomat!
allow me to remind ourselves of just a few examples that demonstrate the commitment
with which you have pursued the promotion of our bilateral relations:
Last year in September, my colleague Deputy Minister Pahad paid an official visit
to the Republic of Croatia. You played a pivotal role in arranging an extremely
interesting and suitable programme for him to enable him to obtain the maximum
benefit from the visit. Apart from conducting very fruitful political consultations
with his counterpart the State Secretary for Political Affairs, Deputy Minister
Pahad also had the opportunity to address the Croatian Chamber of Commerce in
Zagreb with a view of strengthening trade and economic relations between our two
- During your tour of duty in South Africa, you worked tirelessly
to promote high-level visits between the two countries with a view to identifying
areas of co-operation. Among these visits was the visit by President Mesic, who
successfully led an official Croatian delegation to attend the World Summit on
Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
- In April 2002, the then Deputy
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Her Excellency Dr Kurelec, also attended the Ministerial
Non-Aligned Movement Conference in Durban, as an observer. She met with Deputy
Minister Pahad and they signed a Declaration of Co-operation between the Department
of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Croatia.
This Declaration provides amongst others for an exchange of information on subjects
of mutual interest and issues related to multilateral negotiations.
August 2004, the then Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Dr
Zuzul, visited the Republic of South Africa to attend the 14th Ministerial Conference
of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Durban.
- Ambassador upanic was
instrumental in the successful conclusion of a bilateral trade agreement between
South Africa and Croatia. The agreement was signed by His Excellency, Dr Zuzul,
the Croatian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr Mandisi Mpahlwa, Minister the
South African Minister of Trade and Industry in 2003. The agreement specifically
aims to strengthen bilateral trade relations between the South Africa and Croatia
and provides a legal framework for trade and economic co-operation. It also creates
a platform to facilitate business relationships between companies in the two countries.
- In the field of mining equipment a number of Croatian firms participated
in the Electra Mining Africa 2004 Exhibition in Johannesburg introducing a range
of products such as switch gear and transformers, generators, shipboard and offshore
cables and special machines for underground mining as well as a host of other
products for use in the mining, oil and gas sectors.
Trade volumes continue
to grow between our two countries, and we need to capitalise on the strategic
positions that our countries enjoy as gateways for trade in our respective regions.
Moreover, Croatia's recent consistent economic growth rates together with its
imminent accession of Croatia to the European Union represents an appealing market
for investment, particularly in the areas of infrastructure development and services.
The recent appointment by South Africa of an eminent Croatian citizen as our honorary
consul in Zagreb will no doubt further strengthen our economic relations.
improving trade relations need to be underpinned by strong people-to-people contact.
The presence of about 3 to 5, 000 Croatians and South Africans of Croatian descent
living in South Africa provides a further opportunity to learn more about each
other and provide further impetus to the growing tourism figures between our two
countries. The number of South African citizens visiting Croatia as tourists has
exploded to more than 8 000 in 2005.
In addition to the improvement in
trade relations, I cannot neglect to mention the positive developments between
our countries in the fields of arts and culture. Ladies and gentlemen, over the
past four years Ambassador Matko upanic and his staff have worked tirelessly
in this regard. There are many examples, such as the "Croatian Story in 2003"
and the "Exhibition of the tie" earlier this year, the latter also involving
some SA participation. Both these events, as well as the number of awards that
you have won with your successful participation in diplomatic events, Sir, did
your country and Embassy proud and served also to strengthen bilateral relations
and to bring our two peoples closer together.
In conclusion, Mr Ambassador,
I would like to thank you for your efforts to promote South African and Croatian
relations over the past four years. I am sure you will be as successful in your
future endeavours and I wish you well on behalf of not only Minister Dlamini Zuma
but also the Department of Foreign Affairs and everybody here present.