Opening Remarks by H.E. Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa at the 5th session of the South Africa-Algeria Binational Commission of Co-operation meeting, 25-26 May 2010 in Algiers, Algeria

Honourable Mr Mourad Medelci, Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Honourable Ministers of South Africa and Algeria,
Senior Officials,
Distinguished leaders of the South Africa-Algeria Business Forum, and
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honour and privilege for me and my delegation to be here in the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria for this 5th session of the Binational Commission of Co-operation between our two countries. I wish to thank you Mr Foreign Minister for the traditional warm Algerian welcome and the generous hospitality accorded to us since our arrival.

Mr Foreign Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen

This session of the BNC takes place on the eve of the 47th anniversary of the formation of our continental organisation, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). We join millions of Africans in the continent and in the Diaspora in celebrating this momentous occasion.

Guided by the vision of our fore-bearers, who fought against colonialism and apartheid, and for the unity and integration of the African continent, South Africa and Algeria share a common vision for Africa’s future, namely a united, peaceful and prosperous continent.

In this regard, we continue to prioritise the strengthening of governance and capacity of the African Union (AU), and the operationalisation of AU structures such as the African Court of Justice, the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the AU Financial Institutions as further tools that will enhance and accelerate the continent’s integration.

Our countries have collaborated in many spheres and have been in the forefront in promoting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), as Africa’s major development programme, mobilising regional and international support for the NEPAD programmes and processes. It is my considered view that we should continue in these endeavours and rally all relevant institutions for the implementation of NEPAD.

Mr Foreign Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen
 
Peace in some areas of our continent still eludes us. We are encouraged by the good work of the African Union Peace, and Security Council since its operationalisation, and this indeed calls on us to continue to co-operate closely in conflict prevention, resolution and management, as well as in post conflict reconstruction and development. We further note with appreciation the contribution of your country and people, especially as the host of the African Centre for Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT).

In this respect, we denounce unconstitutional changes of government, through military intervention, violence or any other illegal means. A stable environment is the only foundation for economic growth and development. 

Mr Foreign Minister, Ladies and Gentleman

We note with great concern the situation in Western Sahara, in which the people of the territory are still engaged in a struggle for decolonisation and self-determination. The prolongation of the occupation continues to subject the people of Western Sahara to conditions of subjugation and misery.  South Africa will continue to support the people of Western Sahara to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and decide on the status of their territory in a free, democratic and genuine manner.

We will further continue to reinforce the need to retain the negotiations process under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, Mr Christopher Ross to encourage the parties to continue with negotiations in order to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the conflict.

In the same breath, we have noted with great concern the human rights violation in the occupied territory and urge the United Nations Secretary-General to consider the plight of the Saharawi people and encourage the Security Council to consider broadening the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum on Western Sahara (MINURSO) to include monitoring of human rights issues in its mandate. 

Mr Foreign Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen

Over and above the socio-economic challenges that we both face, climate change and its attendant effects of global warming is still staring us in the face. In this regard, Copenhagen represents a commitment by the international community to deal with climate change. We should work together to ensure that the forthcoming Summit in Mexico takes bold and concrete steps to address climate change and its effects. As South Africa we will do our best to contribute further in this domain when we host COP17.

Mr Foreign Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen

The Binational Commission is a concrete expression of the historic bonds of friendship and solidarity between our two countries. Whilst in the past our relations were based purely on political solidarity, the new realities dictate that cooperation should be the full-crum of our partnership. This will help contribute to our common objective of eliminating poverty and underdevelopment. In this connection, we will continue to use the BNC as an effective instrument and implement mutually beneficial projects and programmes.

Our cooperation is underpinned by a legal framework covering a wide spectrum of areas ranging from trade and investment, science and technology, defence, arts and culture, communication, and sports. To date, we have concluded 26 agreements.  At the end of this BNC we hope to sign a further three agreements, bringing the total number of agreements to 29.

The natural resources endowment and the productive capacity of our two countries are critical for the development and advancement of our two peoples. As we take full advantage of these attributes in our economies we will continue to intensify our efforts to increase the volume of two-way trade and investment which is currently at the level that we both desire.

In this regard, I am greatly encouraged by the initiative taken by our business leaders, who will be gathering in a business forum, to take further initiatives to increase and expand our trade links.

Some of the promising areas for the expansion of our co-operation include science, research, space technology, nuclear energy, health, mining and culture. Despite the fact that the Binational Commission has not met for a long period, these sectors have made great strides in their levels of co-operation. This should encourage us to reinforce and consolidate our bilateral exchanges in these sectors and others on an ongoing basis.

I have also noticed that other sectors such as fisheries, environment, water and agriculture have intensified their deliberations, and we hope that they continue with their discussions in order to develop concrete programmes, action plans and projects that would enhance our bilateral relations.

In a nutshell, Mr Foreign Minister, the future of our co-operation is bright and holds real prospects for mutually beneficial relations that will lead to the development of our countries.

This can be realised if we exert more concerted effort to improve our bilateral relations in the identified flagship sectors while at the same time identifying new areas of co-operation.      

Honourable Foreign Minister, at this juncture, I would like to express our profound congratulations to the Algerian National Team, the government and people of Algeria for qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be held in South Africa next month. We are looking forward to celebrating the momentous occasion with you, the rest of Africa, the Diaspora and the entire world in our country.    

In conclusion, I would like to thank you, Mr Foreign Minister, the government and people of Algeria for the excellent reception accorded to us on the occasion of the 5th Session of the Binational Commission between our two countries.

I THANK YOU

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