Transcript of the Opening Remarks by the International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane on the occasion of the 8th Session of the South Africa-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC), 27 October 2009, Cape Town.

Your Excellency and Honourable Minister Trutnev, the Russian delegation, members of the South African delegation, ladies and gentlemen, welcome.

A warm welcome to our Russian friends, friends for all seasons, friends who have been with us during the difficult times and friends who are with us today in our good times. Well, friends with us even as we are both struggling with a recession. I hope we will both emerge out of this with an experience that will make sure that we don't get back into the situation that we are in now, as much as it is a global problem.

It is a great honour for me to host this 8th Session of ITEC between our Russian friends and ourselves. Our focus on our bilateral relations is to make sense for the future generations as to the historic ties, and should continue to make sense through our strengthening of economic and trade ties, and that is done through this ITEC programme.

The high level engagements that we have been having between our two countries, visits and so on, are testimony to our determination to continue building on this friendship that is based also on trust, and the utilisation of ITEC to open each other's markets to continue making sense out of this very important relationship.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you ever so much, Honourable Minister, for the support we got in launching our satellite via the Russian  launch vehicle. It remains a very momentous occasion for us.

Of course there are challenges here and there in the implementation of the ITEC programme. So, we wouldn't want to take too much time of the Co-Chairs (Of Sub-Committees) who are present here today. We want them to please just zoom into the specific areas where we have got the unintended knots, so that we untie the knots and make sure that this relationship remains smooth. My Co-Chair and I have agreed in our private meeting that we want to remain practical. Fortunately we both come from the grassroots level, so we really want to continue making sense of this relationship to you, and to the ordinary people that we represent down there.

We also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and accept the invitation for President Zuma to visit Russia in the second part of next year. So, we have a little bit of time, but also don't have a lot of time to finalise all outstanding agreements, so that we give momentum to this very very important occasion.

Honourable Minister, we want to welcome you back here. I know I would have to travel to your shores, but we pray that you qualify, finally, to participate in the soccer extravaganza, the first time in the history of this Continent, that takes place, the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which will be taking place the first time in history on the African soil. We will be doing our forebears a disservice if Russia wouldn't be one of the teams that will not be participating. So, we hope and pray that you qualify. But even if you don't, remember that you have got a home here. So come and watch Bafana Bafana play and we are sure we will have you on our side.

Once again, welcome, and we hope you will find time, not to implement all the programmes that they have set out for you, so that you leave South Africa as exhausted as you came, a fine time to enjoy South Africa and the beautiful city, the Mother City, of Cape Town. Once again, welcome Excellency. Thank you.

For more information contact Nomfanelo Kota on 082 459 3787

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag X152
Pretoria, 0001

27 October 2009.


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