Congratulatory Remarks by Deputy Minister EI Ebrahim at the Celebration of Europe Day, Wednesday, 5 May 2010, Pretoria

Ambassador Lodewijk Briët;
Your Excellencies, Representatives of Member States of the European Union;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is with great pleasure that I represent the South African Government in joining the European Union (EU) as it celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Europe Day. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the EU and its Member States upon reaching this historic landmark and for sharing the celebrations with South Africa – your committed friend and strategic partner.

The 60th anniversary celebration is the latest extraordinary milestone in the integration of Europe, and needs to be recognised for what the EU has achieved and what it symbolises today – the coming together of peoples based on the fundamental values of peace and solidarity, and based on the belief that ‘together we can do more’.

Ladies and gentleman,

Regional integration is no easy task and challenges are many and inevitable. Only with time and experience can lessons be learnt on the best ways to implement cross-border socio-economic cohesion. Now, as we in Africa look to the example of the EU, it is our hope that we can also, eventually, witness the same successes as the EU through our efforts in the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

This year, South Africa and the EU celebrate 10 years since the implementation of the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between South Africa and the EU. Signed in October 1999, the TDCA became an important stepping stone for the eventual establishment of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership and the adoption of its Joint Action Plan in May 2007.

Ambassador Briët, You will recall that we have named our strategic dialogue as the ‘Môgôbagôba Dialogue’ – the môgôbagôba being the Yellowwood Tree under which discussions can be held in an open and frank manner. We are proud to have twelve running dialogue forums under this leafy umbrella which include trade, development, maritime transport, migration, environment, energy, Space Cooperation and Science and Technology.  I am also pleased to hear that our respective officials are working on the establishment of six more dialogue forums, covering issues such as Education and Training, Crime and Justice, Culture and Social dialogue.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The profound changes in our levels of cooperation have elevated the South Africa-EU relationship to a partnership which recognises the many common regional and global challenges we face. Therefore, we look forward to the 10th Ministerial Political Dialogue to be held in Brussels in a few days time, as well as to hosting the 11th SA-EU Joint Cooperation Council meeting this September. As it stands, we are jointly preparing for the 3rd SA-EU Summit scheduled for the 2nd half of 2010 in Brussels.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before the next summit we still have the little matter of hosting the 2010 Fifa Soccer World Cup and – dare I say – also try and win it.  I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the European soccer teams and their fans to South Africa.  This, to us, is another excellent opportunity to even further enhance our already extensive people-to-people interactions and we look forward to jointly drawing on the many friendships that this tournament will create between all the peoples of this world.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Please join me as we toast in congratulating the EU on achieving this milestone. And as we celebrate Europe Day today, may we also keep in mind our common goals for the future in creating a more prosperous, peaceful and a better world for all.

Thank you

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

05 May 2010

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