Toast Remarks of The President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki,
in honour of his Excellency, The President of the Czech Republic, Václav
Klaus, on the occasion of the State Banquet - Presidential Guest House, Tshwane,
12 December 2006
Your Excellency, President Václav Klaus and
Madame Livia Klausová,
Your Excellency, the Deputy President of South
Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Your Excellency, my wife and I are very
privileged to extend a warm South African welcome to you, your dear wife and the
rest of your delegation. We are very happy that you are here with us because South
Africa attaches the greatest importance to the building of close and cordial relations
of friendship and mutually beneficial co-operation between our two countries and
We are indeed very grateful, Mr. President, that you found time
to visit us, accompanied by important government and business leaders of the Czech
Your visit to our country has served further to cement the friendly
relations between our two countries and, once more, confirms our mutual commitment
to the strengthening of the partnership between our countries and peoples.
substantive and wide-ranging talks this morning and the important agreements we
have signed constitute a practical expression of our mutual determination to give
real meaning to that partnership.
As South Africans, we share with the
people of the Czech Republic the vision and commitment to create strong and prosperous
societies underpinned by a vibrant democracy, the rule of law and respect for
basic human and peoples rights, not only in our two countries by everywhere else
in the world.
Accordingly, Your Excellency, I am certain that we will continue
to use our relative strengths to translate this common perspective into reality.
I am confident that among other things, the agreements that we signed today will
help us to achieve this objective. These, as you know, Your Excellency, are:
Agreement on Economic Co-operation;
- The Memorandum of Understanding on
Co-operation between Chambers of Commerce and Industry South Africa (CHAMSA) and
the Economic Chamber of the Czech Republic; and,
- The Letter of Intent
on Scientific and Technological Co-operation.
Your Excellency, our
two countries have already laid a firm foundation from which to proceed to consolidate
our economic relations. The trade figures indicate that South Africa constitutes
the biggest trading partner of the Czech Republic in Sub-Saharan Africa, with
our country accounting for nearly 40% of your total trade with the region.
concrete example of the possibility to expand our economic relations, extending
beyond trade, is that of the major investment of SABMiller in the Czech Republic,
which has created a leading beer producer in Central Europe and the largest exporter
of Czech beer, reaching more than 50 countries.
I trust that the interaction
between the business leaders who accompanied you and our business people will
give a further and significant impulse to the strengthening of our economic relations,
affecting both trade and investment.
Further, Your Excellency, we should
work together to encourage people-to-people contact, through cultural, scientific,
educational and sports exchanges, as well as by promoting two-way tourism between
Indeed, we are honoured that the Czech Republic, well-known
for her sporting prowess, allows her best and famous athletes regularly to train
at our Potchefstroom University as they prepare themselves to participate in international
We are very pleased Your Excellency that we also have the
possibility to draw on the store of excellent scholarship that resides within
the Czech Republic, to train our own people especially in the important areas
of science, technology and engineering.
We are also very encouraged by the
work the Czech Republic is doing in Africa, and are confident that you will continue
to strengthen your partnership with us so as to give meaning to one of the African
Union's objectives of creating a developed and prosperous Africa.
regard, I must say that the engagement of the European Union with the development
programme of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD),
is critical because through this programme, together we can help to accelerate
the critical process leading to the renaissance of Africa, ensuring that the millions
of Africans on our continent have the possibility to defeat poverty and underdevelopment.
As Your Excellency is aware, three weeks from now, South Africa will take
its seat in the UN Security Council for the period 2007-2008 as a non-permanent
member. We hope that the Czech Republic will do likewise for the 2008-2009 period.
emphasises the need for us to intensify our collaboration and partnership at the
multilateral level. This we should do, among others, to encourage faster reform
of the United Nations so that this important world body becomes a truly democratic
forum of all the nations of the world, reflecting the political and other realities
of the 21st century. I am also confident that together we will use our membership
of the Security Council to strengthen peace and security throughout the world.
Excellency, during the difficult days of our struggle against apartheid, the Czech
people stood shoulder to shoulder with us, and many South Africans regarded your
country as a home away from home. I would like to take this opportunity to thank
all our friends in the Czech Republic and convey to them, through you, Your Excellency,
the message that our people still highly appreciate the fact that the distance
between our countries did not deter them from identifying with our struggle.
therefore say to you, Your Excellency, Madame Klausová, your delegation
and the people of the Czech Republic, that you too should regard South Africa
as a home away from home.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please rise and join
me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President Václav
Klaus and Madame Livia Klausová and to the warm friendship between the
peoples of the Czech Republic and South Africa. To friendship!