Opening Remarks on Commencement of South Africa – European Union Troika Ministerial Meeting Arabella Sheraton, Kleinmond, Western Cape, Friday 16 January 2009

Comments by Minister Dlamini Zuma
Co-chair Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, President of the European Union
Deputy Foreign Minister of Sweden
Commissioner Louis Michel
The entire European Union delegation
Colleagues of the South African delegation

It gives me great pleasure to extend to you and your delegation a very warm welcome to South Africa and off course, we are very pleased we are able to host you on this southern tip of Africa which is without hesitation one of the most beautiful spots in our country and in the world and I believe that away from the hustle and bustle of Brussels, we will be able to have a very quiet, constructive and tranquil meeting in this part of the world and I hope that this meeting will produce a very positive outcome.

I would like to introduce my colleagues before I proceed (introductions)

I would like to take this opportunity to commend both the South African and European Union officials for the job they did at the 9th meeting of the South Africa – European Union Joint Co-operation Council held at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town in November last year.  As I mentioned in our meeting in Vienna last year we should move towards expanding our areas of broad dialogue across a broad region and I think the JCC succeeded in giving better effect to this and I must say we are pleased with the progress in engaging in a meaningful way in areas of diverse as energy, transport, health, space, migration, ICT, education and training.  And off course, we are mindful of the ongoing work and discussions and partnership in areas such as climate change which is a very important global issue and off course, the economic crisis which we will discuss and which will be further discussed in the G-20 and I would also hope that we will make some progress and bring some understanding in some of the critical areas that have been ongoing in the European Union – issues like the European Partnership Agreements (EPAs), transport and so on.  And, we hope that we will reach some understanding in some of these issues and off course, we also welcome the establishment of the Food Facility and the rapid response to the soaring food prices which was discussed at the last summit.  These are the kinds of outcomes to our discussions which prove that the value of our dialogue and strategic partnership is important. 

And off course, I would like to thank this opportunity to thank the Commissioner Louis Michel who has been a friend of South Africa and the region for some time, who is also a driving force of this Strategic Partnership for his dedication to the support not only of South Africa, but of Africa for the entire duration of this position as Commissioner of Development and Humanitarian Aid and we also off course, look forward to continued engagement.

We also welcome the openness that we have noticed in the new Commissioner for Trade Baroness Ashton and we are looking forward to her visit to South Africa and hope that we will be able indeed to discuss the concerns that South Africa has and hope that she will be able, to, together with the European Commission accommodate as many of our concerns as possible so that we will be able to sign the EPAs together with the other SADC members and we hope that we will not get to a point where we will be divided as SADC because that will have very grave implications for our own regional integration so we are looking at this as a very positive step and we will do our best but we hope that the EU will be able to take account of these concerns.

Welcome and we hope you will enjoy your stay in South Africa.

Comments by Foreign Minister of Czech Republic Karel Schwarzenberg
Your Excellency, thank you very much for your opening remarks and very kind welcoming words and thank you for hosting us in such a marvellous place indeed.  I must admit, I would prefer to spend the whole of our Presidency here.  This is the first Ministerial Troika of the Czech European Union Presidency and we are pleased that it takes place here, on the African continent and in South Africa – the political and economic powerhouse.  We hope we will go on to broaden our contacts.

Indeed, as we meet near Cape Town – it was in 1926 when our first diplomatic representation in Africa was opened here in Cape Town.  So, now we are back here.

(Inaudible)

Now the European Union has developed over the last 50 years and Europe is getting closer and closer.  The EU has even expanded, adding new members, and this represents efforts to achieve peace on our continent.  Even the greatest of enemies are now working very closely together. 

I am happy to greet you here and represent Europe which has never been as united as it is now.

The EU and South Africa will be united in co-operation through the Strategic Partnership between the EU and South Africa.  We can indeed change the world and region for the better to create a more peaceful and just world.  It is now important to have an open and frank discussion.  So, let’s begin the 8th meeting of the South Africa – European Union Dialogue.  I hope we can exchange ideas for a better future.

Thank you very much again for inviting us to this very beautiful place.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

16 January 2009

 

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