Opening and Welcome Remarks by His Excellency, President J G Zuma on the Official State Visit by their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of the Kingdom of Norway, 24 November 2009.
Your Excellencies, Ministers and Ambassadors,
Ladies and gentlemen
I would like to convey, on behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, a very warm welcome, and our gratitude to your Majesty and the Norwegian Government and its representatives for joining us today in Pretoria for a State Visit. We believe that through this visit, the historically sound relations that exist between our two countries will be further strengthened.
Today is important as it represents a continuation of the deepening of these ties between our two countries. Vibrant exchanges between South Africa and Norway have taken place in a myriad of areas over the past fifteen years and as a result of this visit they will continue to expand.
I am grateful that a business delegation has accompanied you to South Africa to participate in business forums in Cape Town and Johannesburg. This is indicative of the efforts to increase trade and investment between the two countries. These factors represent a good foundation for even greater trade cooperation between our two countries and your attendance here today signals the determination of both our countries to intensify our political, economic, social and cultural ties.
We envisage that the bilateral talks between South Africa and Norway during your visit will serve to institute regular dialogue that will lead to concrete action that will be beneficial to both Norway and South Africa. Your visit will provide a good opportunity to establish even better relations between Norway and South Africa by allowing our respective Ministers and officials to engage meaningfully with their counterparts on relevant issues such as trade and industry; higher education; science and technology; energy and rural development. These bilateral talks will serve to initiate and develop mutual interactions even further.
Your important visit has also facilitated the possibility to continue our dialogue on international and global matters of common concern. Because our countries proceed from a shared value system, as before, we have agreed on the major matters of the day. These include the challenge of peace in Africa, the resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine and in other areas as well as the need for everybody to respect the United Nations and its Security Council.
I am also pleased that your programme includes the opening of a lecture on International Relations at the University Of Pretoria and a seminar at the University of Cape Town. These kinds of endeavours provide the opportunity for learning as well as healthy debate. We are humbled to have your Majesties visit one of our most notable attractions, Freedom Park with its Garden of Remembrance. The core function of Freedom Park is the creation of a memorial that will narrate the story of South Africa’s pre-colonial, colonial, apartheid, and post-apartheid history and heritage, to acknowledge those that contributed to the freedom of the country.
It is heart-warming that your Majesties will be visiting the Uitsig Clinic. Tuberculosis remains one of the major diseases that our health system has to deal with.
In addition, Cape Town is hosting an exhibition of South African Nobel Laureates and your Majesties will be meeting some of the recipients. We are truly honoured by this action by your Majesties.
We are honoured to host your Majesty King Harald V and your Majesty Queen Sonja, as well as your delegation.
Welcome to South Africa.
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag X152
24 November 2009