Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the join press briefing with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan

21 February 2014

Honourable Minister and your delegation,
Members of the media,

The Government of South Africa attaches great importance to the ties that have been built between our country and the Republic of Azerbaijan and we look forward to enhancing our relations further.

Azerbaijan is a rapidly developing young democracy with a steadily growing economy and a stable political system.

Today, Azerbaijan is ranked among the world’s leading oil and gas producers following the intense investment and development of its reserves since independence. This led to unprecedented economic growth and expansion.

Therefore, it is our hope that South Africa and Azerbaijan can learn from each other in order to enhance the quality of life of the people of our countries.

Our discussions today have resulted in the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Regular Political Consultations. The MoU is an important starting point for the development of the necessary legal instruments for the strengthening of our relations.

There is a wide scope for the development of mutually beneficial relations in various fields such as energy, defence, education and skills development, trade and investment.

We are confident that the singing of the MoU will take forward not only our political but also our economic and trade relations, to the benefit of both our countries in creating jobs, exchanging technical skills and information.

The South African government has outlined five main priorities through which it seeks to meet South Africa’s developmental challenges, namely; Education, Health, Rural Development and Land reform, Crime Prevention and Job Creation.

On 07-08 May 2013, Deputy Minister Marius Fransman paid a visit to Azerbaijan where he met with Deputy Minster Khalafov. During the visit, the Deputy Minsters reviewed the scope of bilateral relations between South Africa and Azerbaijan; facilitated cooperation on energy and defence as well as education and skills development.

There is still significant work to be done to realise our goals in these areas and the Protocol on Political Consultations that we have just signed is an important starting point for our relations.

Multilaterally, South African and Azerbaijan hold common views on a broad range of issues, including with regard to the role of the United Nations.

I would like to conclude by congratulating Azerbaijan on the completion of its first tenure in the UN Security Council. We look forward to continue engaging on issues of multilateral concern, especially pertaining to the reform of the UN and, in particular, the UN Security Council, reform of the Bretton Woods institutions and climate change.

Minister, I would now like to hand over to you to address the media.
 
Thank you.

For enquiries please contact Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, at 082 884 5974.

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