Opening Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the 8th South Africa-Germany Bi-National Commission, Pretoria, 21 November 2014
Your Excellency, Dr Steinmeier
Honourable Deputy Ministers
Heads and Members of the Committees
It is my great pleasure to welcome you, Minister and your important delegation, to South Africa and the 8th Session of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and Germany. As you will know, the BNC was initiated soon after we as South Africans gained our freedom and when former President Nelson Mandela chose Germany as one of the earliest destinations to visit as President, as early as 1996.
I am aware that 2014 is a special year for both South Africa and Germany in that South Africa is celebrating 20 years of the fall of Apartheid and Germany is celebrating 25 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall which, similar to South Africa, had created huge divisions in our societies. I am pleased to note that both our nations’ quests for unity have been realised, which is indeed a cause for celebration. The German Embassy’s 20/25 initiative and your support for the South African Embassy in Berlin’s own celebrations have reflected splendidly on the special relationship between our two nations and people.
Your Excellency our meeting today, in the context of enormous challenges in our global arena, places a huge responsibility on our two countries to work together in creating a peaceful and prosperous Africa and a better World.
Our relationship is an important and strategic relationship. The dimension thereof, covering a wide variety of areas, is captured by the fact that we have 9 Committees, all of which can show concrete results from their interactions. South Africa and Germany today a multifaceted engagement that covers a wide variety of areas to the benefit of both our countries.
The 8th Bi-national Commission creates an opportunity to examine the scope of these relations and to set the scene for future cooperation based on mutually beneficial outcomes.
Over the years both of our countries have developed a strong working relationship through the BNC and other developmental projects that have enhanced the lives of our people through job creation, vocational training and educational programmes.
While celebrating our achievements, South Africa must also look forward to the next 20 years. In this regard the South African government has adopted a National Development Plan 2030 (NDP) that outlines South Africa’s development trajectory. The NDP focuses on areas such as skills development, youth employment, manufacturing and local beneficiation amongst other things. That could serve to also guide our bilateral relations in the future.
Our deliberations today should ensure that tangible benefits are derived that have a positive impact on key priorities. In this regard we express our gratitude to Germany for huge investments made into South Africa which has resulted in the creation of thousands of Jobs. We also note that in the face of the global financial crisis Germany continues to provide South Africa with substantial development assistance.
I believe that the need you have felt to update your Africa Strategy is a recognition of the fact that Africa has every chance of becoming the Continent of the future, peaceful and prosperous. We look forward to receiving the Reports of the Committees, anticipating that these will reflect all of this.
The most important goal for us today, however, is to look forward and to ensure an outcome report that will direct us to new opportunities and initiatives and new milestones of achievement benefitting not only Germany and South Africa, our citizens and our businesses, but the good causes of peace and stability, progress and justice globally where we can address such challenges together.
Minister and honoured guest and Co-Chair, I give you the floor.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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