SA, Tunisia bolster relations

Friday, September 29, 2023

South Africa and Tunisia should increase their political consultations to ensure a robust and dynamic utilisation of opportunities that exist between the nations, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor.

Pandor on Friday hosted Tunisian Foreign Minister, Nabil Ammar. 

“I'm really pleased, Minister and brother, to welcome you to Pretoria today on the occasion of our political consultations, which gives us a chance to discuss our bilateral relations - regional, continental and international issues - of mutual interest,” said Pandor.

Today’s political consultations are expected to provide an opportunity for the two Ministers to reflect on the state of bilateral relations between South Africa and Tunisia and discuss further strengthening bilateral cooperation in several areas. 

These include economic cooperation, security, health, science and technology.

“The meeting we're going to have today is also going to lay the ground for the future meeting of our Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation (JBCC), which we established in 1996.

“However, the last meeting of JBCC was held in 2008. A further meeting is long overdue to revitalise its mission to ensure that we have focused programme areas of cooperation and projects that we execute together,” Pandor said.

The Minister said she hopes that officials in both countries are going to work hard to ensure they meet these ambitions and come up with concrete programmes of cooperation to work together.

“I do believe we have opportunities to expand and explore, and that these will benefit both our countries, as well as the people of our country. I've made reference to stronger cooperation between our business sector as well as stronger cooperation in skills, training and development.”

South Africa, according to Pandor, has a great ambition to enhance innovation and research capacity and has developed programmes in nanoscience and space science. 

“I know on satellites, previously, our researchers had been collaborating and it would be wonderful to revive that collaboration.” 

She also told Ammar that she was pleased his country has taken an interest in establishing the business forum, who was accompanied by the President of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts, who also has business interests locally.

“So dear Minister, please know that we are absolutely committed to the relationship between South Africa and Tunisia. 

“I assure you that I would like to walk together with Tunisia as we advance the goals of Agenda 2063 as well as implement the African Continental Free Trade Area, and together, support our continent to achieve its Developmental Goals.”

Pandor also took the time to express her gratitude to Ammar for attending South Africa’s 15th BRICS Summit last month and leading his country's delegation.

“We were thrilled that your country was in attendance,” she said. 

She also applauded her counterpart after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) announced it was adding the Tunisian resort island of Djerba to its list of World Heritage Sites because of its ancient ruins, whitewashed villages, mosques, churches and synagogues.

“Minister, our bilateral relationship continues to be one that is strong and solidified through bilateral mechanisms which provide for political, economic, scientific and socio-cultural engagement,” she added. –