Address by Mrs Sue van der Merwe, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation on the occasion of the National Day Celebration of the Russian Federation, held in Pretoria on 11 June 2009.

Ambassador Anatoly Makarov and Mrs Makarov
Your Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen

On this august occasion celebrating the Russian National Day, I wish on behalf of the New Government of South Africa and all her people to congratulate the Russian Federation, and wish her people prosperity and good health.

Ambassador Makarov, Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen, President Zuma in his State of the Nation Address identified ten Government priorities for the period 2009 to 2012 Medium Term. In a nutshell these are: Education, Health, Land Reform and Rural Development, Fight against Crime, Creation of decent work, Economic and Social infrastructure, Social cohesion, International Relation and Co-operation and Environmental Challenges.   

Your Excellency, in a large measure through the Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) and in the multilateral fora, South Africa and the Russian Federation are already co-operating in most of the priorities identified by President Zuma. We are however, looking forward to deepening co-operation with the Russian Federation for the advancement of the above mentioned priorities.

Against this background, President Zuma is favourably considering paying a State Visit to the Russian Federation during the course of this current year, as per the gracious invitation from President Medvedev. It is my fervent belief that the President’s State Visit to the Russian Federation will serve to enhance ties of friendship and co-operation across a wide spectrum of South African and Russian Federation interests.

South Africa is looking forward to hosting the 8th Session of ITEC around September or October 2009. I am encouraged by the substantial progress that the ITEC Inter-sessional registered at Zimbali lodge in December 2008. Especially in respect of concrete projects in water and forestry co-operation, mineral and energy co-operation and in science and technology. I trust that the 8th ITEC Session will elevate our co-operation in education, transport, agriculture and other spheres of mutual interest.      

Your Excellency, we are proud that the South Africa Parliament ratified the Treaty of Friendship towards the end of 2008. We are looking forward to the mapping out of modalities for co-operation as provided by the Friendship Treaty.  South Africa is also highly appreciative of the close co-operation that our country received from the Russian Federation during our tenure in the Security Council in the last two years.  

Your Excellences, South Africa appreciates the Russian Federation’s continued support of the African Agenda. We on the African continent wish to appeal to the Russian Federation to continue to use her influence, especially in the Group of 8 and the United Nations Security Council to help to address human security challenges in Africa.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in raising our glasses as we toast to the prosperity of the people and the government of The Russian Federation, and to the friendship between our nations.

Spaciba! I thank you!

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