Remarks by the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, H E Dr GNM Pandor, during the 20th Council of Ministers (COM) Meeting on 17 December 2020

Your Highness, Chair of IORA,
Honourable Ministers,
Senior Officials,

2020 has been an extra-ordinary year and the Chair has successfully led IORA by ensuring we complete our 2020 programme.

COVID-19 has changed all our lives, but what it has not affected is the correctness of our shared collaboration and stewardship of IORA. We must continue to advance our goals of the development of our people and ensuring our joint prosperity as IORA nations.

The membership of France will surely contribute to increasing our relevance and impact. We therefore welcome France as the 23rd Member State of IORA.

IORA is a strategic forum that can make a significant contribution to sustainable socio-economic development of the Indian Ocean Region. As member states of IORA, I am certain that we are better positioned to deal with the strategic regional priorities that we have set for ourselves, as well as dealing with other global imperatives, such as Climate Change.

2021 will be marked by many positive developments. In Africa, we shall be launching the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) next month and we would like IORA to engage with Africa more vigorously to find the synergies that exist, in pursuit of the IORA trade and investment agenda.

Also, next year, we will be finalising the second IORA Action Plan for the period 2022-2026. We have learned much from implementing the first Action Plan 2017-2021, most importantly the element of Member States taking ownership of implementation. We must set concrete objectives and outline practical implementation steps in each sector.

IORA is growing in importance and influence and we must sustain the momentum we have as an organisation, including by supporting and strengthening the Secretariat.

South Africa wishes to congratulate Ambassador Dr Nokwe for the sterling work done as the IORA Secretary-General. We therefore wish her all success in her future endeavours. We also hope that we will find an appropriate successor for Ambassador Nokwe that will have the full support and confidence of all the Member States.

In conclusion, the sentiments expressed by President Mandela 23 years ago continue to ring true today. They continue to bind us all going forward in ensuring that the Indian Ocean Rim should remain an important region that promotes peace, security, socio-economic development, and solidarity, particularly under the current global environment.

I Thank You.


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