Opening Remarks on the occasion of the 5th Session of the Senior Officials Meeting between South Africa and Algeria of the Bi-National Commission, 31 March 2010, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria.

Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, Minister Medelci
Your Excellency, Ambassador of Algeria to South Africa, Ambassador Bencheik
Mr Khaya Somgqeza; Charge des Affaires, at the South African Embassy in Algiers,
Distinguished Senior Officials,
Ladies and Gentleman,

It is my great honour and pleasure to welcome you and declare this meeting open. I would like to take this opportunity to extend a special word of welcome to our distinguished brothers and sisters from the sister Republic of Algeria. We trust and hope that you have had an enjoyable and fruitful stay in South Africa.

Our meeting today is part and parcel of the build up which started with the Senior Officials meeting two days ago and will culminate in the 5th session of the Bi-national Commission which will be held in May 2010. Ours is a long, enduring and eternal relationship based on shared values and principles.

Historical ties of solidarity and fraternity saw our two peoples triumph over colonialism and apartheid. South Africa pays tribute to the heroic people of Algeria for their role in the liberation of not only South Africa but also other countries on the African continent.

Having decisively defeated colonialism and apartheid we now face a new struggle, a struggle against want, hunger and disease, a struggle for development and a struggle against marginalisation.

The formalisation of our historic ties in the form of a structured Bilateral Mechanism, such as of the Bi-national Commission gives us the scope and opportunity to use each other’s strengths for the mutual benefit of our two peoples.

The Bi-national Commission represents a concrete manifestation of bonds of friendship cooperation and partnership between our two countries. This meeting gives us an opportunity to reinvigorate and breathe a new lease of life into the Bi-national Commission. There is a need to translate historical political solidarity into tangible cooperation at state, commercial, and people to people levels. Sustained and increased levels of trade and cooperation in various fields hold real prospects for the growth and development of our countries.

Bilateral trade between the two countries remains essentially underdeveloped despite the immense potential that exists in our economies. We need to appropriate measures to unlock this potential in order to increase the volume of two way trade.  

Since the Establishment of the Presidential Bi-national Commission in 2000, 26 Cooperation agreements have been signed. A solid legal framework exists and additional agreements are in the process of negotiation. The advances made and results obtained within the existing Technical Working groups are varied. 

Despite the fact that the Bi-national Commission has not met over the last couple of years we have had sustained interaction at ministerial and expert level. We have witnessed heighten levels of cooperation in the fields of science and technology, laser and space technology, nuclear as well as defence and security, education and health. We need to build on these sectors since they are emerging as locomotive that are driving cooperation between our two countries. 

Your Excellency, My Dear Brother,

South Africa and Algeria share a common vision for the integration of the African continent within the framework of the African Union (AU) and guided by the Constitutive Act of the AU. In this regard the basis for the continents integration is the establishment and development of strong Regional Economic Communities (RECs), which should act as building blocks for an integrated and united Africa.

As founding members of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee (HSGIC), Algeria and South Africa have a responsibility to drive the implementation of NEPAD programmes. Our two countries together with Nigeria and Kenya are using space technology to manage mineral and other resources and to preserve the environment. This is being done through the framework for African Resources Management Environmental Constellation (ARMC). This initiative is one of the concrete NEPAD projects that will contribute to the efficient management of our natural resources and the preservation of our environment.  

Your Excellency, My Dear Brother,

South Africa will continue to support the right to self determination for the people of Western Sahara within the framework of existing UN resolutions. In this regard we support ongoing efforts by the UNSG Special Representative on the Western Sahara, Ambassador Chris Ross, to find a durable solution to the Western Sahara issue.

Concerning the resurgence of the coups and other forms of unconstitutional government in Africa we reiterate the AU’s condemnation and abhorrence of the scourge. In this respect we urge the defacto authorities in Niger and Guinea Conakry to take the necessary measures as prescribed by the AU Peace and Security Council to restore constitutional order in these sister countries. With regards to Madagascar we call on the High Authority of the Transition (HAT) to implement the Maputo I and II Accords and the, Addis Act which are a basis for the restoration of stability in Madagascar.

With regards to the situation in Sudan, we welcome the signing of the truce between the JEM and the government of Sudan which will contribute positively to ongoing efforts by the AU High Level Implementation Panel on Darfur. We urge all parties to adhere to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) towards a peaceful election in the next month which will be followed by the referendum in January 2011. Concerning the situation in Zimbabwe we call on the parties to the Global Peace Agreement (GPA) to fully implement the terms of the GPA. We also urge developed countries to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe. 

On the international front, we pledge to work with Algeria on the reform of multilateral institutions of governance in particular the United Nations and the Brentton Woods Institutions. We reiterate our commitment to the finalisation of the Doha Developmental Round, and urge developed countries to demonstrate the same political will which will, give the global trading system legitimacy.

Your Excellency, My Dear Brother,

It would be odd if I were to conclude my speech without expressing South Africa’s congratulations to the Algerian Football team and the government and people of Algeria for the heroic manner in which you qualified for the FIFA 2010 world Cup. We look forward to receiving your team and the fanatic Algerian supporters on our shores and we wish you well. With six African teams participating in this spectacle we hope the trophy remains on African soil.

Africa’s time has come. Ke Nako!

Finally, let me conclude by expressing hope that the officials who have been meeting over the last two days will present concrete and forward looking proposals that will lend renewed impetus to our relations.

I thank you for your attention.

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