Notes following joint media briefing between Deputy Minister Pahad and counterpart from Czech Republic

Comments by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad
Welcome and introductory remarks

Deputy Minister from the Czech Republic has been visiting us. As you know, this follows a very successful State Visit by President Vaclav Klaus to South Africa in December 2006.

You would know that the Czech Republic is one of the new members of the European Union and one of the more successful members of the EU.

Our relations, politically and economically have been growing from strength to strength. Our economic relations have now reached US$370 million in 2006 which is quite impressive seeing that we have not had any relations until 1994 and the potential for growth is excellent in every field.

The Czech Republic historically, as Czechoslovakia and now the Czech Republic, been very involved in African issues. Deputy Minister Bambasova is also the Deputy Minister dealing with all countries with the exception of those in Europe and therefore is responsible for all developmental projects of the Czech Republic in Africa and elsewhere. This is quite substantial given the size of the economy, etc. Czech Republic is involved in Angola, Namibia, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, in addition to others. South Africa is the largest economic partner of the Czech Republic in Africa.

We have had extensive discussions about our bilateral relations which we think has the potential for substantial growth in the fields of agriculture, science and technology, health, tourism, in addition to others.

We have also discussed developments in Africa including conflict resolution. The Czech Republic is involved in the DRC with the MONUC forces and indeed in the situation in the Middle East, Eastern and Central Europe.

This has been an excellent opportunity to get an understanding of the Czech Republic about the situation in their region and to share our understanding of the SADC region. The Deputy Minister has visited Mozambique and Zambia in addition to South Africa. So we discussed SADC, the need for increased co-operation to fastrack SADC's integration and development programmes and how to co-operate more to ensure the successful implementation of NEPAD.

Welcome Minister and it has been an excellent opportunity to renew our discussions at a Foreign Affairs level and we hope your visit will open up other opportunities for political and economic links between our two countries.

Comments by Deputy Minister Bambasova
Thank you very much Mr Minister.

I would subscribe to all you have said and do not have much more to add.

We are very pleased that relations between our two countries are flourishing and as Deputy Minister has said, the economic co-operation is growing - the numbers concerning mutual trade has multiplied over the past decade of our co-operation and the visit of our President last December brought a new momentum to our bilateral relations. I was glad to be able to come and see how to sustain this momentum.

As far as the bilateral relations between our two countries go, I feel they are going very well.

I was also extremely pleased to have the opportunity to discuss and share our views on the continent of Africa as well as other issues of interest to the international community.

The Czech Republic respects South Africa as a dominating power politically and economically in Africa and such a position creates a responsibility. We look at South Africa as a country that is, together with others, sharing the responsibility for Africa's peaceful and prosperous development.

Discussing all these topics and talking about what can be done at the international level is very important for the Czech Republic as a country and as a member of the European Union.

Lastly, but not least, for the Czech Republic as a candidate for the non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council 2008-2009. As you know, South Africa is a member of the Security Council 2007-2008 and if we succeed with our candidacy during this autumn, we will be colleagues in the Security Council in 2008 and it has been valuable to discuss our mutual agenda.

Questions and answers
Question Deputy Minister Pahad, I wonder if you have had an opportunity to discuss the reform of the UN Security Council?
Answer This is a matter that is still on our agenda. As the Minister has said, bilaterally and as members of the European Union, the Czech Republic is very involved in this matter, in addition to their candidacy for the non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council. We have not yet discussed it but it is on our agenda.

Question Deputy Minister, do you have any comments on the 40th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine and Palestinian territories by Israel?
Answer The Minister also deals with this matter. Considering today marks the 40th anniversary of the 6 day war and also with regard to the serious developments in the region, this is high on our agenda for discussions.

The Minister is deeply involved with this matter as part of the EU and seeing that the EU is part of the Quartet.

We will exchange ideas on this, in addition to the Lebanese situation that is also tracing a very dangerous path.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

5 June 2007

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