Opening Remarks by the President of the Republic of South Africa, H.E. Mr Jacob Zuma during the Official Lunch hosted by the President of the Russian Federation, H.E. Mr. Dimitri Medvedev, 5 August 2010, 15:00, Kremlin, Moscow, Russian Federation

Mr President,

At the outset, please accept the heart-felt condolences of my delegation, the Government and peoples of South Africa on the tragic loss of life and property brought about by the fires and drought that are ravaging your country.

Mr President,

The Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union’s role in the South African liberation struggle is remembered with appreciation. I bring with me the gratitude of the peoples of South Africa for your solidarity during the dark days of Apartheid and for your support of the liberation struggle. During that terrible time, many a South African exile was welcomed by the Russian people, thus making Russia a home away from home and many cadres were trained here. Indeed, the remains of some of our heroes are still here. Tomorrow I will be visiting the graves of J.B. Marks, Moses Kotane and Ivon Jones at the Novodeviche Cemetery in Moscow.

This meeting is indeed a meeting between old friends – friends united still by their determination to create a better life for their citizens and a more just world. It provides an opportunity for the two countries to build on historical ties and take this partnership, consolidated by the 2006 Friendship and Cooperation Treaty and the Protocol on Political Consultations, to an even higher level. The fact that I am accompanied by 11 Cabinet Ministers and such a large business delegation, is testimony to South Africa’s commitment to consolidate and enhance bilateral relations with Russia.

Mr President,

Today we agreed to elevate this partnership to a new level (options: a Presidential Summit level/ a Bi-National Commission). The elevation of this friendship builds not only on historical ties, but also on key existing partnerships including:

  • The Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (ITEC),
  • The Joint Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation,
  • The Joint Commission on Science and Technological Cooperation, and
  • The Joint Coordinating Committee on Energy.

An concrete example flowing from these partnerships is the launch of the South African satellite, SumbandilaSAT, in September 2009.
We are also taking this friendship further through the signing four new documents:

  • The Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic and Official or Service Passports,
  • The Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Plant Quarantine,
  • A Memorandum of Understanding between the South African Space Agency and the Russian Federal Space Agency on Cooperation in the Field of Earth Observation, and
  • A Contract of Cooperation in the Supply of Nuclear Fuel.

My Ministers inform me that there has been good progress in the Ministerial-level consultations and in the ITEC and we have great expectations from the ongoing Business Forum, which brings over a 100 South African business leaders to Russia. Under the guidance of its new South African Co-Chair, Mr Robert Gumede, we trust that the activities of the South Africa-Russia Business Council will also go from strength to strength. The Business Council has an important role to play in identifying potential obstacles and barriers to bilateral trade and pre-empting trade disputes (option: “such as the anti-dumping measures imposed against Columbus Steel”).

Mr President,

South Africa also regards Russia as a true partner in the multilateral arena and the two countries have a proud track record of working together, in partnership with other-like minded countries, to advance a range of objectives, such as promoting peace and security in African, climate change and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and NEPAD. We share a common perspective that the international political and financial architecture should be reformed to more accurately reflect contemporary global realities. In particular, there is a need to urgently address power imbalances in the United Nations Security Council and to implement commitments made in the G8 and G20 context.

Our continent’s international profile has been greatly enhanced by the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup by South Africa. This event has not only contributed towards ending Afro-pessimism, but also left a legacy of nation-building in South Africa, as well as valuable infrastructure and employment opportunities.
We wish Russia an equally successful Winter Olympics in 2014 and are confident that your bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup will be met with success. South Africa stands ready to share our experience with you in hosting such a prestige event.

Mr President,  

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for the friendly hospitality you have extended to me and my delegation. We look forward to extending a warm African welcome to you in the near future.

Please join me in a toast to President Medvedev, the Government and the peoples of the Russian Federation.

Nastarovia!

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