Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister Mfeketo at the 5th Round of Bilateral Consultations between South Africa and Kazakhstan, Astana, 11 November 2016
Your Excellency, Deputy Minister Kamaldinov,
Distinguished members of the Kazakh and South African delegations,
I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for hosting the 5th Round of Bilateral Consultations and for the warm hospitality afforded once again to me and my delegation. I am of the opinion that this Round of Consultations will be a very special one as it is hosted against the backdrop of Central Asian Countries’ 25th Celebration of Independence. This is indeed a very significant achievement and I would like to extend to Kazakhstan and the Kazakh people the congratulations and best wishes on behalf of the Government and people of South Africa.
I would also like to congratulate Kazakhstan on another noteworthy achievement, that of becoming the first Central Asian country to successfully bid for a non-permanent seat on the UNSC for the period 2017 - 2018. It is indeed a historic achievement not only for Kazakhstan but also for the Central Asian region. We look forward to working closely with Kazakhstan on advancing the African Agenda.
During previous editions of this Forum, we have reiterated the commonalities that have made this relationship unique and strategic. We have referred to our similar histories and recalled the shared aims and goals that has shaped this relationship.
From a multilateral perspective, we share many of the same challenges. As developing countries we are often reminded of the uneven way that the international system deals with problems and current issues. We have noted that Kazakhstan has become a strong and prevailing voice among those who are calling for crucial reforms in as far as various international multilateral fora are concerned. South Africa also strongly believes that issues impacting on the global developmental agenda cannot be addressed satisfactorily without the developing world having adequate representation and input in these deliberations. In this regard we commend Kazakhstan, not only for identifying this shortcoming, but more importantly, for the firm and principled stance it has adopted in order to address these inequalities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in his 2015 State of the Nation Address, President of the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma, announced the Nine-Point Plan to boost economic growth in South Africa and to create much-needed jobs.
South Africa, like many other countries around the globe, is facing challenges that, if not addressed rapidly and decisively, will hamper economic growth and negatively impact on the well-being of all South Africans but especially those that are on a daily basis faced with the challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty. The Nine-Point Plan, which is derived from South Africa’s National Development Plan, has become an important part of assisting the South African Government to address the triple challenges I mentioned earlier.
South Africa and Kazakhstan are both leaders in their respective regions. I believe therefore that Kazakhstan is uniquely positioned to recognise the privilege and the responsibility that goes along with such a position. For South Africa therefore, Africa remains central to our foreign policy engagements.
South Africa will continue to support peace and security and regional economic integration through participation in the African Union and the Southern African Development Community initiatives. We will also continue to assist sister countries in resolving their issues, for example in Lesotho and South Sudan.
Africa’s economic future remains bright. The key, however, is infrastructure connectivity to achieve an integrated and developed Africa, to the benefit of both its inhabitants and its global, economic partners.
Keeping the above in mind, I think it is fair to say that both South Africa and Kazakhstan find itself in regions that are on the rise. This offers many opportunities to both our countries. The South Africa-Kazakhstan bilateral relationship, and by extension, the Bilateral Consultations we partake in on a bi-annual basis, therefore demands us to take full advantage of these opportunities that will benefit our respective countries as well as the regions we find ourselves in.
I furthermore believe that our shared view of the world around us, has also contributed to the quality and durability of our bilateral relationship. It is my sincere hope that with this round of Consultations, we will continue the open and frank discussion we have had during previous rounds and that when we leave here today, we leave with the knowledge that we have done justice to our relationship and the people of our two countries.
Your Excellency, Deputy Minister Kamaldinov, I thank you.
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