Opening Remarks by Minister ZST Skweyiya, acting on behalf of
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, at the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership
(NAASP) Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), International Convention Centre, Durban
Primo Alvi Joelianto, Co-Chair of the NAASP SOM and Head of the Indonesian delegation
Ayanda Ntsaluba, Co-Chair of the NAASP SOM and Head of the South African delegation
Excellencies, Heads of delegation and delegates of the NAASP SOM
Dr Alzubedi, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and gentleman
me great joy to welcome all delegates and representatives of continental bodies
to Durban and to this New Asian-African Strategic Partnership Senior Officials
Meeting. Some delegates will already be familiar with this beautiful coastal city
that has hosted many international conferences and summits over the last 12 years,
including the Asian-African Sub-Regional Organisations Ministerial Conference
(AASROC II) in August 2004.
The NAASP SOM reflects our common determination
to take our destiny into our own hands. Afro-Asian solidarity is highly cognisant
of the need for our peoples to improve their lives and determine their place within
the global community of nations. Political will and determination to forget the
New Strategic Partnership between Asia and Africa is clearly visible. From the
onset, we need to reiterate that participation of countries in the NAASP, while
completely voluntary, reaffirms historical links and commitments made by the people
of the two continents. This makes NAASP an invigorating and fresh initiative towards
Asian and African development. I would like to acknowledge, appreciate and commend
the excellent work that has been undertaken by the Republic of Indonesia to enhance
As Asian and African countries, we have had a long tradition
of working and living together. We recognise in each other a common humanity and
common destiny. We have suffered the same afflictions and humiliations imposed
by colonialism and we face similar challenges in a changing world order, characterised
by inequalities, poverty and underdevelopment.
The purpose of our meeting
is to concretise the New Strategic Partnership that aims to enhance and improve
the quality of life for our peoples. Our collective effort is borne of the necessity
and the reality that our people continue to struggle and suffer on a daily basis.
Our two regions of the world constitute some of the world's largest and
fastest growing economies. This is however not reflected in our positions on the
global, economic and political stage. Co-operation is required regarding the sharing
of resources, expertise and experiences. South-South co-operation constitutes
a central factor in the construction of an equitable world order.
over fifty years ago, leaders from Asia and Africa participated in the historic
Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung in 1955. At this conference, leaders forged
the path of co-operation between Asia and Africa and outlined a vision of a world
of independence, peace, justice and common prosperity, as encapsulated in what
is referred to as the Ten Principles of Bandung. If one examines the principles,
we truly see how visionary they were and how relevant their vision still is today.
Briefly, these guiding principles have focussed on:
- respect for fundamental
- respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of
- equality of all races and nations
- non-interference in
the internal affairs of other countries
- respect for the right of nations
to defend themselves singly and collectively
- abstaining from exerting
pressure on other countries
- refraining from acts or threats of aggression
or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence
of any country
- settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means
of mutual interests and co-operation
- respect for justice and international
When the historic gathering in Bandung in 1955 projected
the vision I have described, it did not count on the benevolence of others to
realise this outcome. It was confident that acting in unity, the peoples of Africa
and Asia had the strength to create a new world order. This resulted ultimately
in their liberation and their ability to be the makers of their history.
the time, most Asian countries had emerged from the shackles of colonialism. Africa
on the other hand was still waging wars of liberation and asserting its right
to self-determination and independence. We were still striving for a rightful
place in the international arena. The historic gathering in Bandung was a celebration
of the dawning of liberty of those who had been oppressed. The Bandung conference
propelled the mindset for a free Asia and a free Africa.
In 1955, the principles
of racial equality and the rights to self determination of all nations were not
yet universally accepted. The Bandung spirit changed this. Self-determination
was projected as a core feature in the quest to achieve political and moral victory
over oppressors. Our leaders sought to foster closer unity and solidarity between
the peoples of the vast continents of Africa and Asia. The Bandung conference
led, in 1961, to the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) ? an organisation
that gave a voice to the marginalised masses of the world. It also gave impetus
to numerous national liberation movements. This signalled the importance of the
Bandung conference as a turning point in the way countries of the south were viewed
In 1955, our leaders fully understood the impact that
their discussions would have on multilateralism in present day world politics.
Therefore, there is an urgent need for countries to revitalise the spirit of Bandung
aimed at fuller economic, social, cultural and political co-operation. NAASP provides
the mechanism to translate the Bandung vision and the objectives of NAM into reality.
Due to the policy of apartheid, South Africa could not participate in the
Bandung conference as a sovereign state. We recall the Government of India issuing
passports to the South African delegates to attend this important gathering. As
a result of this, two leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), Moses Kotane
and Maulvi Cachalia attended the Bandung conference. Their purpose was to bring
to the attention of the international community the plight of the majority of
South Africans fighting the evils of apartheid.
The conference declared,
in reaction to the appeal by the South African delegation, that:
Asian-African conference deplored the policies of racial segregation and discrimination
which form the basis of government and human relations in large regions of Africa
and in other parts of the world. Such conduct is not only a gross violation of
human rights but also a denial of the fundamental values of civilisation and the
dignity of man.
The conference extended its warm sympathy and support for
the courageous stand taken by the victims of racial discrimination, especially
by the peoples of African, Indian and Pakistani origin in South Africa; applauded
all those who sustained their cause, reaffirmed the determination of Asian-African
peoples to eradicate any trace of racialism that might exist in their own countries;
and pledged to use its full moral influence against the danger of falling victim
to the same evil in the struggle to eradicate it."
The Bandung conference
was well ahead of its time. The Conference laid a solid foundation of solidarity
and support for all the colonial, oppressed and racially discriminated peoples
of the world. This solidarity has continued decades after the Bandung conference,
until the present day. There is no doubt that we can report to our peoples that
we are today stronger than we were 50 years ago. Today, most of us enjoy our rightful
places as sovereign nations in the global community. We should not underestimate
the success of the long and sometimes treacherous road we have had to take to
choose our own destinies.
Our gathering here today marks the first meeting
of NAASP since its inception at the Asia-Africa Summit of last year. The Strategic
Partnership will seek to further entrench collaboration. This will concretise
relations by building on solid bilateral ties and collaborative efforts so as
to enhance the core features of multilateralism. To counter unilateralism, it
is vital for us to reinforce and underscore our efforts at greater Afro-Asian
co-operation and solidarity. Furthermore, in an age of globalisation and interdependency,
working in isolation is no longer feasible. We have much to contribute towards
Asian and African continental development so as to ensure mutual benefit. Collaboration
has to reach its full potential and the NAASP should be viewed as a structured
framework to implement the Bandung Spirit.
We have come a long way since
1955 and we have much work to do to ensure that the vision of our compatriots
is fulfilled. The hopes of today's and future generations should be brought to
full fruition. In particular, let us finalise the excellent work we have undertaken
since AASROC I, held in Bandung during July 2003, AASROC II held in Durban during
August 2004, and the Asian-African Summit held in Jakarta during April 2005.
is a voluntary solidarity movement. It centres on Asian and African ownership
based on a common vision, an equal partnership, mutual respect and benefit. We
have agreed that our co-operation should be practical and based on comparative
advantage and mutual strength. It should focus on political solidarity, increased
economic interaction and socio-cultural relations. The NAASP will be a powerful
vehicle that can help to stem the tide of marginalisation of our peoples and regions
in the global socio-economic and political architecture.
NAASP can empower
us to transform our reality through the sharing of knowledge, exchange of experiences
and best practice. We need to identify new opportunities for trade and investment,
people to people engagement and for promoting and cementing social and cultural
relations. A common view and collective action is required to ensure the equitable
sharing of the benefits of globalisation and to further promote an enabling environment.
Closer collaboration among regional and sub-regional organisations of Africa
and Asia is vital for sustainable economic development. Economically, many countries
are still struggling to focus on development, upliftment and the eradication of
poverty. Many developing countries are marginalised and excluded from the benefits
of globalisation. In addition, the ever expanding digital divide requires attention.
NAASP ensures that we share our common interest to change political and
socio-economic conditions in our favour. Together we must collaborate to ensure
that we change the structures of global governance as well as the structure of
the global economy in order to achieve equity, fairness as well as sustained and
We should understand that the NAASP rests on the
basic premise that the Asian and African development agenda needs to be in our
hands and that, as was stated in Bandung, we must, in the first instance, act
on the basis of self reliance.
A good number of our countries have made
important strides towards building modern economies capable of achieving better
lives for the billions of people we represent. Let us continue in this fashion
and co-operate within the realms of our strategic partnership.
made significant strides towards giving real content to the critical objective
of South-South co-operation. This co-operation was visualised by our leaders who
met in Bandung in 1955 - which we now seek to radically expand through the establishment
Despite all this progress we continue to face daunting challenges
to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment. We must not duplicate initiatives that
already exist, but rather seek to establish linkages and synergies.
co-operation should take place in the areas of global peace and security, the
establishment of a just international economic order, fairer and more equitable
trade relations, promotion of viable investment climates, increased flows of Official
Development Assistance (ODA), the eradication of poverty, debt relief, dealing
with the impacts of globalisation and the establishment of an effective global
partnership for sustainable development. In light of this, we support the activities
of the Non-Aligned Centre based in Jakarta. This centre will further our NAASP
objectives and goals based on solidarity, collaboration, co-operation, capacity
building and the exchange of knowledge.
Multi-regional co-operation among
the peoples of the South will increase not only the volume of our collective voice,
but also the quality of our voice, adding weight to our demand for a just and
equitable world order.
In conclusion, for African and Asian countries to
succeed in their quest, it is imperative that we act in solidarity in the three
areas of engagement of the NAASP ? namely, political solidarity, economic co-operation
and socio-cultural relations. We have to use our combined strengths to take our
destiny into our own hands. We need to work for the benefit of our peoples in
order to ensure an equitable and responsive international environment. As developing
countries we have to address the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment. Our
relationship with the developed world should be one of a partnership and not one
of dependence. This new partnership paradigm must be constructed.
that we will all emerge out of this NAASP SOM with a common resolve to intensify
interaction to advance our common agenda for greater South-South co-operation.
We look forward to meeting again at the NAM Summit in Cuba during September 2006.
Furthermore, our deliberations from this meeting will also assist in preparation
for the NAASP Ministerial Meeting in 2007.
We need to advance the cause
pioneered by some of the greatest sons and daughters of Asia and Africa. We need
to act in solidarity in all areas using our combined strength to make our voices
heard. In the spirit of accountability and transparency, we owe it to our people
to ensure that the responsibility placed on us to create a better life for all
is reflected in the outcomes of our deliberations and in our collective actions.
I make a firm undertaking that the Government and the people of South Africa
remain ready to embark on this journey of co-operation, friendship and solidarity
among our people and regions.
Issued by: Department
of Foreign Affairs
1 September 2006