Opening remarks by Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim
3rd South Africa – Switzerland HLC BERN, 15 March 2011

Your Excellency, Mr Peter Maurer, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation;

Your Excellency, Ambassador Rudolf Baerfuss, Swiss Ambassador to the Republic
of South Africa

Your Excellency, Ambassador George Johannes, South African Ambassador to the Swiss Confederation;

Members of the Swiss Delegation;
Members of the South African Delegation;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

On behalf of the South African Government, I would like to thank Mr Peter Maurer and the government of Switzerland for a warm welcome to your beautiful country, and also congratulate you, Mr Maurer on your new appointment as the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I wish you all the best in your new post, also look forward to excellent working relations with you.

In 2009 I had the pleasure of co-chairing the 2nd Annual Consultations with your predecessor, Dr Michael Ambuehl, which were held on 7th December in Pretoria. It was an honour indeed to have worked with him on the successful 2nd session of the consultations. We wish Dr Ambuehl well on his new post.

I am sure you will agree with me that the deliberations of the 2nd High Level Consultation certainly contributed to placing our bilateral relationship on the solid foundation it stands on at present.

Political relations between South Africa and Switzerland remain excellent and continue to develop at all levels, i.e. bilaterally, in terms of trilateral cooperation and in regional and multilateral contexts.  Our countries share common values of democracy, respect for human rights and social justice, and we continue to build our good relations on these principles.

During our last consultations in South Africa on 7 December 2009, we reaffirmed the strong partnership between South Africa and Switzerland and our shared commitment to the values of democracy, good governance, peace and security and development on the African continent.

We reviewed our bilateral relations and expressed ourselves satisfied that relations between our countries, and people, continue to be stronger, closer and with intensification in all areas. The conclusion we reached in 2009 that relations can benefit from further high-level visits remain valid.  Importantly, we expressed our commitment to make special efforts to increase the level of implementation of the undertakings and agreements given during last year’s Annual Consultations.

I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone when I say the signing of the Visa Waiver Agreement for diplomatic and official passports on 03 June 2010, was a great accomplishment for both our countries.  This is intended precisely to encourage official visits to each other’s countries as we build and strengthen our bilateral relationship.

My delegation and I look forward to our deliberations today in order to review the many major events that shaped and influence the world especially to explore possibilities for further co-operation at both the bilateral and multilateral levels.

We also look forward to receiving progress reports from the committees on the proposals and agreements which emanated from the last Annual High Level Consultations between South Africa and Switzerland which took place in Pretoria on the 7th December 2009.

I thank you

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation

460 Soutpansberg Road

15 March 2011

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