Remarks by the Minister of International Relations & Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the Joint Press Conference following the conclusion of the Bilateral Meeting with Mr Vuk Jeremić, President of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly, Pretoria, 12 August 2013

Your Excellency, Mr Vuk Jeremić
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen

I am indeed pleased that we have had the opportunity to meet today and I am grateful that your busy schedule has allowed us the time.

Members of the media,

As you know, Mr Vuk Jeremić is the President of the 67th session United Nations General Assembly (PGA) and is visiting South Africa at my invitation to build on the strong working relationship that we have established with his Office.

The strengthening of the multilateral system is one of the key priorities of South Africa’s foreign policy and we view the UN, specifically the General Assembly, with its universal membership, as the chief deliberative policy-making multilateral institution.  Engaging with the President of the General Assembly (PGA) is therefore of strategic importance for South Africa.

The role of the PGA is to preside over the 67th Session of the General Assembly which runs from September 2012 to September 2013.  This is a very important position bearing in mind that the GA comprises all 193 member states and serves as a forum for intergovernmental deliberation and negotiations on all of the international issues covered by the Charter.

The theme that Mr Jeremić selected for the 67th Session of the GA is “Bringing adjustment or resolution of conflicts through peaceful means,” which afforded the UN General Assembly to reassert its role in the peaceful resolution of disputes through mediation and dialogue.

During our discussions, I thanked Mr Jeremić for the significant focus that he placed on the African Agenda throughout his term in office. He was the first PGA to arrange a special thematic debate of the General Assembly on the “Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Africa”, which took place on 23 April 2013 and resulted in the adoption of a Political Declaration. This initiative placed the cooperation between the General Assembly and the African Union on a sound footing.  As such, the Declaration also complements the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2033 that South Africa initiated during our Presidency of the Security Council in January 2012.

We also discussed preparations for the Special Event to assess and follow up on efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 25 September 2013 on the margins of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA68) and for which Mr Jeremić appointed South Africa’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo, and his counterpart from Ireland, as co-facilitators.  We agreed that every effort should be made to fully achieve the MDGs in the period remaining before the 2015 target date.

The issue of the Post-2015 Development Agenda is very much at the centre of multilateral deliberations at this time and we used the occasion to exchange ideas. We agreed that this is a very complex issue and that the needs of developing countries in general, and Africa in particular, have to be fully accommodated in whatever dispensation is eventually decided upon in the inter-governmental negotiations.

South Africa will continue to actively participate in the deliberations of the GA, with the aim of making the General Assembly more democratic, transparent and responsive to the needs of all its Member States. 

In conclusion,

I hope that the good working relationship with Mr Jeremić, as President of the 67th Session of the GA, will set the tone for cooperation with future Presidents of the Assembly.

I now invite Mr Jeremić to address the media.

For more information, please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, 082 884 5974

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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