Toast remarks by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the official dinner hosted in honour of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Your Excellency, Prime Minister Reinfeldt and Mrs Reinfeldt,
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe,
Honourable Ministers and
Deputy Ministers,
Deputy Speaker of Parliament,
Leaders of political parties,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Business community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening to you all.

Let me once again welcome you Mr Prime Minister and your delegation to South Africa. We view the visit as truly significant, at a bilateral level and also in terms of the South Africa-European Union Summit tomorrow.

Respect for human rights and international law has always been the cornerstone of Swedish foreign policy. South Africans came to know Sweden as a true and reliable friend during the struggle against apartheid.

The support came not only from the political spectrum, but also from Swedish civil society.
An immense amount of funding was channelled to the liberation movements, and support was provided in different forms, including providing sanctuary to South African exiles. For this, we will always be grateful to the Swedes and the Nordic countries as a whole.

In 1994, after the ushering in of democracy, our two countries took our historical relations further, with a progressive development cooperation relationship. These relations include political, economic and social - embracing areas such as trade, education, science, culture and many aspects of social life such as combating HIV AIDS.

We take note of the growth in trade between our two countries, and welcome the interest shown by Swedish companies in South Africa. We would like in particular to welcome the representatives of Swedish business who have been part of this delegation and who join us this evening.

During our talks today, I was struck by the depth and commitment of the Swedish people in various spheres, towards South Africa and the African continent as a whole. The particular attention which Sweden pays to Africa is greatly appreciated, especially the emphasis on poverty reduction, promotion of democracy, trade, the environment as well as peace and security.

In the months and years to come, this vision will become even more important, and our friendship can synergise towards a positive outcome. I look forward to our closer cooperation in the multilateral field on the global level.

Our two countries also share a passion and a vision to make this world a better place for those who are living now and for the generations to come.

I look back with fond memories to the third meeting of the South African - Swedish Binational Commission which I co-chaired in Sweden in 2003.

We look forward to the sixth meeting of the BNC early next year, to be co-chaired by our Deputy President and the Swedish Deputy Prime Minister. The 2010 BNC will play a very important role in finalising the areas in which we wish to steer our relations in future, both on a global and bilateral level.

Since the last meeting of the BNC in 2007, the world has been plunged into a global recession. This is one area in which the BNC will consolidate our cooperation.

The issue of climate change has also become of even greater concern. We will have to cooperate during the coming UN conference in Copenhagen in December. The deal in Copenhagen will need to balance climate and development, past and future, mitigation and adaptation, action by developed and developing countries, and a shared vision on reducing emissions, with means of implementation.

Mr Prime Minister, and your delegation,

The commitment that Sweden has shown to the African continent and its willingness to become directly involved in African struggles and causes over the past decades, is proof of her true friendship with the African continent.

Let me thank you and your delegation for travelling so far south. You are always welcome in South Africa as trusted friends of this country and its people.

Ladies and gentlemen, may you all rise and join me in a toast to friendship and cooperation between South Africa and Sweden!

I thank you.

Issued by:
The Presidency
Cape Town