Remarks by Deputy Minister Marius Fransman, on the occasion of South Africa’s Freedom Day Celebrations, Theme:  “Working Together to Build Unity and Prosperity’’, Hungary, 14 May 2012

Dr Hovari, Deputy State Secretary for Global Affairs,  Programme Director; Your Excellencies; Members of Diplomatic Corps; Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen; Friends and Compatriots;  

We are honoured to have you all here with us tonight to celebrate our 18th Freedom Day, which took place on 27 April. We would have done a great injustice to ourselves if we celebrate South Africa’s freedom without looking back at the corridors of our own history to remind ourselves of who we truly are, and where we actually come from. Indeed, our struggle for liberation has come a long way.  

It is therefore in this spirit that celebrating our freedom, for us, equals a celebration of humanity in its totality. Our freedom is about building friendship, bridging boundaries and strengthening our relations with those who stood by us during our darkest moments in the history of our country. Hungary is no exception.

Our country has a long standing and cordial relationship with Hungary, through the African National Congress (ANC), and the students who graduated in the late 70’s and 80’s formulated an active link between our two countries. As our country celebrates the centenary celebrations of the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the African National Congress, we wish to pause, look back and reflect on the unparalleled support we enjoyed from your country. We have achieved these milestones today due to the support you invested in us, and for this, I will be echoing the sentiments of the people and government of South Africa when I say “We thank you Hungary!"

Programme Director,

Historical links between our two countries have also grown from strength to strength due to a very strong presence of a formidable Hungarian community in South Africa.  A sizable number of Hungarians immigrated to South Africa during the unprecedented Revolution of 1956. This is the reason why there are on-going efforts to consolidate and strengthen friendship between the people of our two countries, while exploring further opportunities for co-operation.  Hungary’s strong presence in South Africa justifies the cordial diplomatic relations we currently enjoy.

At the level of bilateral relations, it is commendable to note that Hungary is one of South Africa’s important trading partners in Central Europe and serves as a gateway for our goods to the Eastern European markets.

 Programme Director,

We are therefore confident that our relations are at a point where we can confidently further our engagements with Hungary on key strategic issues. South Africa offers many opportunities for cooperation in a variety of sectors and those are augmented by its stability.  South Africa is a serious international and regional player and a respected member of many multilateral and international institutions, including the UNSC, the AU, the SADC (Southern African Development Community), the G20, BRICS and IBSA.  

 Ladies and Gentlemen

My visit here takes place at a poignant and historical time in the history of our country’s struggle for liberation. As indicated in the beginning of my remarks, this year marks the Centenary Celebrations of the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the African National Congress. Founded hundred years ago, the African National Congress is more relevant now than ever to our present day Africa.  The existence of this movement to us serves as an inspiration and hope that someday, the aspirations of the people of Africa shall be attained. It helps us ensure that the people of Africa do not aspire to settle for less.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, please allow me to extend a kind invitation to partner with us as Africa becomes the next global growth point.  We are at that critical take-off point and the opportunities are exciting. As Government, we are committed to fostering integration and creating a climate conducive to business, including providing the infrastructure backbone for further growth and development.  Integration will set in place a virtuous cycle of economies of scale, of lowering the costs and risks of doing business, and of maximizing competitive and comparative advantages.   Africa is no longer on the periphery of the global economy but an active participant.

Africa is indeed rising to the occasion as the next growth point.

I thank you.

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