Welcome address by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, on the occasion of the presentation of credentials by heads of missions accredited to South Africa, Sefako M. Makgatho Presidential Guest House
03 October 2012
Honourable Ministers present today;
High Commissioners and Ambassadors;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Senior Government Officials;
Members of the Media;
Ladies and gentlemen;
It is indeed a great pleasure to be in your midst today on this wonderful occasion, when our Government welcomes Heads of Missions accredited to South Africa.
We trust that you will enjoy your stay in our beautiful country whilst working hard to strengthen the relations your respective countries have with South Africa.
We also hope you will use your tenure to identify cooperation areas of mutual benefit between our countries.
Ladies and gentlemen;
We continue to receive Heads of Missions in order to consolidate our strategic international relations vision and, at the same time, find creative ways and means through which we can better improve on our work in the conduct of our foreign policy.
Our intention is to ensure that our bilateral relations with all our partners are further strengthened through meaningful dialogue.
It is for this reason that we constantly focus our energies on engagements that seek to promote issues of common interest and mutual benefit.
Our international relations framework is premised on creating a better Africa in a better world, with a particular emphasis on strengthening our South-South co-operation with the developing world of the South and the developed nations of the North.
Last month South Africa commemorated one of the most important days in our calendar, Heritage Day.
This day is very significant to South Africans as it serves as a powerful agent of celebrating South Africa’s identity, nationhood, our cultural diversity and South Africa’s historical inheritance.
While our differences and diversity in the past were used to promote segregation and discrimination, under the democratic dispensation we have found ways and means to celebrate our diversity, as the supreme law of our country the Constitution stipulates that we are united in diversity.
South Africa comes from the past which was characterised by conflict and confrontation. It overcame this to become a peaceful country which cherishes peace, unity, reconciliation and development.
We would not have achieved this without the help and support of the international community.
Some of the countries which played a critical role in that process are amongst us today, and for this reason we will forever remain indebted to your gracious countries and be grateful for your individual and collective contributions.
We welcome all the twelve representatives from various countries gathered here today.
These include representatives from the Kingdom of Spain, the Portuguese Republic, Kingdom of Denmark, Republic of Turkey, Republic of Bulgaria, New Zealand, Republic of Guetemala, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Arab Republic of Egypt, Republic of the Congo Brazzaville, Republic of Seychelles and the newly formed state of the Republic of South Sudan.
We are pleased to have the official South Sudanese representative so soon after South Africa’s Ambassador to South Sudan; presented his letters of credence to my dear brother, President Salva Kiir in September this year.
I am delighted that our countries signed the General Cooperation Agreement (GCA) along the sidelines of the 67th UNGA meeting in New York on 25 September 2012.
We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Republic of Congo which is represented here today, for their recent legislative elections.
This demonstrates that the Republic of Congo, like South Africa, is forging ahead in its commitment to democracy and good governance.
I also take this opportunity to welcome a representative from the Arab Republic of Egypt, the first Egyptian Ambassador to come to our shores following the historic political transition in Egypt.
We welcome the important role played by Egypt in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East, especially the Palestine-Israeli conflict. To this end, South Africa will continue to value its engagement with Egypt on this matter.
May I also take this opportunity to reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the South Africa-Egypt Joint Bilateral Commission (JBC) as a vehicle of facilitating bilateral cooperation between our two countries.
We look forward to working closely with you in cementing all important aspects of our relations.
Let me also welcome one of our SADC neighbours from the Republic of Seychelles which is also here, we will continue to work together on all matters that affect our region as we do in trying to find a peaceful solution to the Malagasy situation and all other matters affecting SADC.
I also wish to welcome a representative from Bangladesh. We have had warm relations since the demise of apartheid, when formal diplomatic relations were established between our two countries in 1994.
Our countries share common views in various multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and its agencies and in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and others.
The recent Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), which was held in June 2012 in Dhaka, is a conscious effort to take our bilateral relations forward, as it gives us the opportunity for closer cooperation and regular interaction as two countries.
Let me also welcome the representative of Guatemala.
It is time that we strengthen relations at bilateral and multilateral level and start identifying cooperation areas of mutual benefit to both countries.
I am also aware that Guatemala plans to strengthen relations with Africa, in that noble endeavour you must remain assured of our support.
Let me also welcome a representative from the Republic of Bulgaria. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and South Africa.
Allow me on this occasion also to acknowledge Bulgaria’s support to the peoples of South Africa during our struggle for Freedom, Justice, and Equality.
Many of our leaders studied in Bulgaria and still have warm memories of their time in your country.
I also welcome a representative from Portugal. South Africa and Portugal do not only share a history dating back to many centuries ago, but also a commitment to common values and progressive ideals.
Both our countries have experienced rapid domestic socio-economic transformation as part of our respective economic growth and development strategies.
Welcome to the representative of New Zealand, South Africa recognises that its destiny is inextricably linked to that of the developing world.
South Africa is committed to pushing back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa and the South.
Our countries share a history of productive co-operation across a range of issues, including fisheries protection, defence relations and mining.
I welcome the representative of the Kingdom of Denmark, an important partner for South Africa which played a significant role in the country’s liberation struggle.
This support did not end with apartheid because during South Africa’s transition to democracy and beyond, South Africa’s relationship with Denmark has grown and solidified.
South Africa recognises the contribution made by Denmark through the comprehensive development assistance programme, which has contributed to South Africa’s developmental agenda.
South Africa values Denmark as an important partner as manifested in the cordial relations that exist between Denmark and South Africa.
The representative from Spain is also warmly welcomed. I am pleased that Spain places high priority on its relations with the African continent, as evidenced by its “Africa Plan”, which pledges support for the Sub-Saharan Africa Development Agenda, highlighting the need to harmonise, coordinate and develop complementarities” with both bilateral and multilateral initiatives, including the African Union.
South Africa and Spain are also deeply committed to multilateralism and share a common belief that UN governance should be restructured to ensure effective fulfilment of the world body’s resolutions, especially those of the Security Council.
I also welcome the representative from the Republic of Turkey. As you are aware, Turkey is one of South Africa’s strategic partners.
The signing of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and Turkey in June 2012 in Ankara is a testimony that our relations have gone to new heights.
This is also evident in the frequent high level visits between the two countries.
We trust that you will find time during your busy schedules to tour our beautiful country and visit our historic and heritage sites, which are now symbols of hope and forgiveness.
Ladies and Gentlemen I welcome you once again to South Africa.
We look forward to further expanding our bilateral cooperation in all fields with all countries represented here which are important partners for South Africa and played a significant role in the country’s liberation struggle.
I thank you.