Notes following Signing of Declaration of Intent between South Africa and the Governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden Partnerships in Africa, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Monday 9 June 2008

Comments by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad

Welcome to members of the media.

Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome the Ambassadors of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden and the Charges d’Affairs of Norway.

We meet today to sign a Declaration of Intent between the Nordic Governments and South Africa to co-operate on developmental and other issues in Africa with third parties.

You are very well aware that the Nordic countries played a most important role in Africa.  They have not had any colonies in Africa but they are the greatest contributors bilaterally to Africa’s developmental assistance, the largest contributors through the United Nations and those of them who are part of the European Union, through the European Union.

Most of the countries have met the UN target of 0.7% of GDP and they are way ahead of other countries.  What has been significant about the Nordic developmental programmes in Africa is that it has always been done in co-operation with African countries and it has always been based on an assessment of African needs and not a “one shoe fits all” approach.  And this is why it is very significant that South Africa is today signing this Declaration of Intent.

It is clear that the Nordic countries and southern Africa can co-operate more in terms of economic development and the promotion of human rights, good governance, conflict resolution and management, and given that we work together with the same aims and objectives in Africa, we think that this Declaration of Intent will help us to work much better to deal with the African challenges. 

It will be based on five principles: ownership, alignment, harmonisation, management for results and mutual accountability.  It is our view as South Africa that this Declaration of Intent, as I have said, will help us to more clearly determine how we can more effectively, in partnership, utilise the resources that are coming into Africa to achieve the objectives of conflict resolution, prevention, post-conflict reconstruction and development, good governance, democracy and human rights.

As you are aware we have just concluded the Africa World Economic Forum in Cape Town where the general feeling is that Africa can progress more if we can get the necessary co-operation and assistance from the international community.

I am very happy that the Nordic countries will sign this Declaration of Intent with South Africa.  The Nordics are off course, playing a major role in helping other institutions like SADC and indeed the African Union especially the Peace and Security Council.  We also work very closely in the United Nations on African issues.  Indeed, on many other issues.

So we believe this is a further development in how South Africa and the Nordic countries can work together, using our resources collectively, to based on the five principles, achieve quicker results on the African continent.

I want to thank the Ambassadors and the Charge for giving our country the opportunity to partner with you.  We have been in partnership before – bilaterally – but this is the first time that there is a structured Agreement of Intent to work together, especially in the least developed countries, within the framework of the OECD programmes to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

I want to again thank the Nordic countries for everything you have been doing and will continue to do in Africa and I am sure, our partnership together will be a solid foundation to build better partnerships with other African countries especially with our SADC partners.

Welcome and thank you.

Comments by Ambassador of Denmark

Denmark is very pleased to add this Agreement to our already broad relationship with South Africa.  We think it is underpinning the very important role that South Africa is playing on the continent and it also helps Denmark to pursue our efforts to become engaged in many aspects of developments and security as well as foreign policies on the African continent.  We look forward to consolidating our partnership together with our colleagues.

Comments by Ambassador of Finland

I would like to add that we as Nordic countries have a long history in Africa in development co-operation programmes – from the 1960s.  We even have a history of joint Africa co-operation projects in various countries in Africa and we also have a long history of co-operation with South Africa even beginning from the days in which we supported the fight for liberation in this country.

So, it is simply a win-win situation.  We have a great interest in working with a number of African countries.  Your country has an important – almost decisive role – to play in the development of Africa and southern Africa in particular in the different fields – conflict resolution and development, trade, etc. 

So, it is a win-win situation – if we put our resources together in an appropriate way to assist the various countries in the region and I think this is a great initiative and I am sure it will be followed by many successful co-operation programmes on the basis of Nordic countries individually and collectively, South Africa and other countries in Africa.

We look forward to the implementation of this initiative.

Comments by Ambassador of Iceland

Minister, Iceland also agrees with its Nordic countries that this is a great initiative and we certainly look forward to its implementation.  I am very privileged that this is one of the first initiatives in this area that Iceland has been part of, partly because our Embassy in this country is only two years old.

So, I put a great emphasis on this co-operation and on the Declaration we are about to sign and I am very hopeful for its future implementation.

Comments by Charges d’Affairs of Norway

I would like to add my voice to the others: we are very happy to sign this Declaration with South Africa with whom we have a long history of supporting you bilaterally.  We have also started to have some tripartite co-operation with you – we are working on police co-operation with the South African police service in Sudan.  We are also working with the South African NGO Accord in Burundi.  I hope that this will be framework for further co-operation in other African countries.

Comments by Ambassador of Sweden

On behalf of Sweden, we share the same background as the other countries – we are very happy that we will now be receiving a framework for something that my Norwegian colleague has just said, has already started.  So, it certainly it is an idea whose time has come.

We also have some projects in African countries – we have police co-operation in Rwanda which is successful and we are currently evaluating a project in the Democratic Republic of Congo which was where we co-operated before elections were held.  And I am sure we will also be soon looking at other opportunities in which we can co-operate.

So we hope that South Africa will strengthen as an emerging donor so that this partnership can bring us closer towards pursuing our common goals.

Thank you very much for this opportunity.

Questions and answers

Question As you have said, the co-operation between South Africa and the Nordic countries is a long established one – why is this Declaration only now being signed?

Answer (Deputy Minister Pahad) Everything is a process and work in progress and we are new democracy.  We have been working bilaterally, and indeed, as has been indicated, we already have some projects but the time has come that the challenges on our continent demand a more structured format in which we relate to third parties so it is Nordic countries – South Africa working in other countries in Africa and I think we have reached a stage of maturity where we can, collectively, have a framework in which we can pool our resources to get the maximum progress out of any initiative we take and as been proven in the already existing initiatives in the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, if can co-ordinate this better, we can, with less resources achieve much more.  So the time has come for this initiative where South Africa and the Nordic countries can together work on programmes so that we are able to use each other’s strengths to achieve the best results in countries in which are going to be co-operating.

As I said, the Nordics are the largest contributors through the United Nations, the European Union and bilaterally to all the funding that goes to Africa.

This is an attempt to see how we can, in some areas, utilise our resources together in a better way.

This the first ever agreement like this for South Africa.

Question Deputy Minister, you mentioned Burundi, Sudan, Rwanda and the DRC – what involvement is there in Burundi?

Answer (Deputy Minister Pahad) We have been assisting each other in the processes – some of the countries are on the International Co-ordinating Committee.  Some of the Ambassadors will upon conclusion here travel to Magaliesberg for the 2nd Stakeholder Conference.  There are many other areas.

I think we have the same objective: conflict prevention – we have to do much more on the prevention side and not just become involved when conflicts have already broken out.  So, on many other parts of the continent where we are beginning to see the beginnings of conflicts we will have to take pre-emptive action.

In any case, if the developmental programmes, the good governance, human rights, the capacity building programmes are functioning, we have a better chance of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

As you know, we have always said you cannot have peace without development and you cannot have development without peace.  So, if we work within this framework we have a common vision and objective in terms of how we want to work and together I believe that we can, in an organised manner, co-operate in third party initiatives.

(Ambassador of Finland) I would like to confirm what the Minister has just said: I think one cannot isolate the issues of development from the rest of society and I think, in this kind of co-operation we are now building, we really can utilise the best possible resources from Nordic countries – know-how, experience and relations from South Africa and we really think it is a win-win situation and in a way, we can clear the package, involving all the elements needed to work in a certain third country with sustainable development to achieve sustainable results.

As I said, you cannot isolate development from the rest of society.  We work on this principle amongst ourselves and together with South Africa and her knowledge, experience and expertise.  So we are not looking for political glamour.  We are looking at a very pragmatic outcome – ways and means of how to do the job we are willing to do in Africa and what South Africa is willing to do on the continent. 

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
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9 June 2008

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