Opening Remarks by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu at the Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/ International Relations, DIRCO, Pretoria, 04 June 2018

Honourable State Councillor Mr Wang Yi, State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China
Honourable Minister Mr Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia
Honourable Minister Ms Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs of India
Honourable Ambassador Marcos Galvão, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil

Delegations of the BRICS Countries here present

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my sincere honour to welcome you to South Africa on the eve of the Second Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations. Honourable Ministers, your presence here re-affirms and strengthens the long-standing bonds of friendship and cooperation we have built in the decade of our strategic partnership.

Over the last 10 years, the BRICS Agenda has evolved and expanded beyond the economic focus that initially brought us together, to also include global political, security and social matters.

There can be no doubt that our shared commitment to BRICS will bear fruit and we will make advances in confronting our common challenges and realising our common objectives for peace, harmony and greater representation in global governance institutions.

Following the successful First Formal of Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, organised by the People’s Republic of China last year, I think we can all agree that there is a need for the continuation of a meeting of this nature. We should acknowledge the initiative as a very sound one that has given us more time to plan better and work closer. Through this Forum, we are uniquely poised to make further concrete contributions to BRICS cooperation through our deliberations.

Furthermore, the current global geo-political realities make a meeting of this nature, not only necessary but timely. We meet in the face of multilateralism under siege; when the integrity of international agreements can be hastily and expediently compromised; when more and more countries take an inward-looking position at the expense of others. South Africa remains deeply committed to multilateral diplomacy, in principle and in our demonstrable actions – and we hold true to this stance in the United Nations system; in our regional interactions, as and in particular through our close collaboration in BRICS.

The BRICS Forum must reassert its collective responsibility of providing new perspectives and solutions to the current international order.  As we work collectively, not only in our interest but in also advancing the interests of our shared global community, we must do so with a view to protect the sacred and shared values of multilateralism and international law that underpin our union.

We meet at a time when the world is undergoing serious seismic changes in many spheres. The strife in Turkey, the migration to Europe, the intensification of conflict between Israel and Palestine and the re-emergence of national protectionism that threatens multilateralism. Against these challenges we each face our own national challenges and our own continental challenges. We have earned our place of pride in this august body to represents the broader interests of the peoples and countries of the African continent.

The evolving world in which we live requires of us to keep track with its multifaceted and dynamic changes.  We are also beholden to our resolutions and ensuring that we realise them in this changing world. This year will mark the tenth anniversary of the establishment of BRICS, new multilateral forum that holds the hope of most developing countries.

It is fortuitous for South Africa to hold the Chairship of this august Forum, and to have the responsibility of hosting the 10th BRICS Summit in this year that coincides with the Centenary commemoration of a world icon, former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. Throughout the year, we will honour the life and legacy of our leader, a distinguished global statesman and father of our nation. We are excessively proud that out of a deplorable inhuman system, we produced one as he. The life of this remarkable human being urges us to recall that nothing is impossible to achieve, no matter the magnitude of the task and irrespective of how daunting it may seem at the time.

South Africa’s BRICS Chairship in 2018 is thus anchored in this belief. We intend to build on the legacy of Madiba, as well as on the achievements of the past decade of BRICS Summits in order to further enhance BRICS cooperation in the next decade that will guide our countries and peoples, as well as those of the Global South into the new era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a way that maximises opportunities and minimises threats, and especially in an era where we all seek prosperity for all, inclusivity, equality, good governance and economic development.

We remain conscious, however, that the prospects of inclusive growth and shared prosperity that we strive for, cannot, and will not, be realised in the absence of lasting regional and international peace and security.

Colleagues, I am encouraged that this platform has gained momentum, and I am excited that we are hosting it. We are committed to make the Summit worthy of what our peoples collectively expect from us. I look forward to our robust deliberations.

I would now like to call upon Honourable Minister Mr Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

I thank you

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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