Toast Remarks for Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe at the Dinner Hosted for Deputy Prime Minister Maud Olofsson

Your Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister Olofsson,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today was a different type of international relations engagement because it was a biennial meeting of long-term friends.

It this kind of meeting where as friends we compare notes, share experiences and together chart the way forward to a common objective.

The emphasis on partnership is very important because we both have much to benefit from our friendship.

Our countries share a passion and a vision to make this world a better place for those who are living now and for the generations to come.

South Africans came to know Sweden as a true and reliable friend throughout the dark days of our struggle against apartheid. Sweden today continues to play a very important role in the daily lives of many South Africans.

For example, people on the streets of Kimberley and Port Elizabeth and elsewhere benefit daily from Swedish development cooperation projects and South Africans in general have a vibrantly stronger democracy in part because of the involvement of the Swedish government and civil society in South Africa over the decades.

Let me also acknowledge your great contribution to our fight against the spread of HIV through your sustained support of the South African National Aids Council.

Since 1994 Sweden and South Africa have become partners in the international community, and have shared a joint vision of how to create a world which is worthy of its inhabitants and future generations.

In the months and years to come this vision will become even more important and our friendship will no doubt continue to flourish. I look forward to closer cooperation in the multilateral field and to increased trilateral cooperation in Africa.

Our deliberations take place at no ordinary time.  Since the last meeting of the BNC more than two years ago the international arena has greatly changed both in positive and negative ways. We have witnessed continuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The ongoing situation in Somalia has become a threat to international shipping necessitating the deployment of an international naval force.

Mother Nature has been wreaking havoc as well and we have seen a number of devastating natural disasters from the recent earthquakes in Italy, Haiti, Chile, Turkey and Taiwan, to the changing weather patterns which have caused a severe winter characterised by extreme temperatures and storms in most of the northern hemisphere.

Yet of course the issue which has changed the world greatly since the BNC last met has been the global economic crisis and recession.  Clearly, this turn of events will have long lasting repercussions, some of which we are beginning to see. 

The economic centres of the world are becoming more disparate and dispersed, which is a healthy development. There have fortunately also been signs of economic recovery which we should build on.

In Africa we have seen successful elections and a greater commitment in the process to deal with the illegal overthrow of democratically elected governments.

A new generation of democratic and progressive African leaders has emerged, committed to the vision of a revival of Africa, determined to eradicate the evils of poverty and underdevelopment.
In most of these areas Sweden has proven to be a true friend of the African continent. Your commitment to stability, progress and sustainable development, on the basis of an equal and constructive partnership, is highly valued.

Since the last BNC South Africa signed a Declaration of Intent with all five Nordic countries on Partnerships in Africa.  This has laid a firm basis for future trilateral cooperation in the continent of Africa.

I am encouraged by the good example of existing cooperation with Sweden in this regard i.e. the excellent cooperation between our police services to assist their Rwandese counterparts.  I am sure that we will cooperate on similar projects elsewhere on the continent.

Your new country strategy is a good reflection of the wider relations which have been forged between our two countries over the past sixteen years. 

We place a high value on this Binational Commission which has proven to be an effective tool to deepen and diversify the cooperation between our two countries in a number of key areas.

Our national priorities are central to the attainment of our country’s goals of uplifting all the people of South Africa. For South Africa, this Binational Commission forms part of our determined efforts in our young democracy to take charge of our own destiny.
As South Africans, and Africans, we seek to integrate ourselves ever more fully within the rapidly globalising world economy and we need strategic partners such as Sweden, to achieve higher levels of growth and employment and increase the international competitiveness of our economy.

Deputy Prime Minister, I wish to reaffirm that it is indeed a pleasure to receive you and all members of your delegation in South Africa.

I am convinced that we will be able to register tangible and concrete progress at our concluding meeting.

I have no doubt that the results-based outcome of our discussions will further consolidate and expand the special friendship and constructive partnership between our two countries.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Deputy Prime Minister, and the members of your delegation for once again availing yourself to participate in this BNC hosted by South Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of Her Excellency, Deputy Prime Minister Olofsson and to the friendship between the peoples of Sweden and South Africa.

I thank you Excellencies.

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag x152

16 March 2010

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