South Africa is proud to have such a consistent partner in Romania. We are countries with similar development challenges and we share lessons in the dynamic transition of the last two decades. Relations between our countries are growing at many levels – bilateral and multilateral and between our peoples – and they hold much promise for the future.
South Africa and Romania enjoy excellent political relations characterized by political dialogue, diverse bilateral cooperation programmes and growing bilateral trade. Towards the end of last year, South Africa’s Minister of International Relation and Cooperation, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and our Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Rob Davies, had a meeting with Minister Theodor Baconschi, on the margin of the 3rd EU – Africa Summit, in Tripoli. On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Romania and South Africa, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane expressed her intention to visit Romania in 2011. The same is also applicable in the case of our Minister of Science and Technology. We are also mindful of the standing invitation for President Zuma to visit Romania. President Zuma last visited Romania in his capacity as Deputy President in 2005. This visit was a historic visit by a South African Deputy President, the first since the establishment of diplomatic relations and at that time shortly after Romania became an EU member.
Although trade volumes have improved greatly since diplomatic relations were established in 1991, scope for further improvement nevertheless exist. No doubt, there is a lot of scope for cooperation in many areas, including agriculture, mining technology, renewable energy and at the exports of South Africa wines and fresh produce, not forgetting, cut flowers.
Vast opportunities exist to expand bilateral trade and tourism relation between the two countries. Access to the ports of Central and East Europe is a major concern to improve trade, not only with Romania, but with all countries in the region of Central and Eastern Europe. While the current economic environment has presented us with challenges, this has not deterred South Africans from investing in Romania.
Romania and South Africa are committed to working together for the mutual benefits of our people. Membership of the EU has provided Romania with a new perspective for working together with us on Africa’s development and we seek to cooperate with Romania wherever possible in the development of the Continent trough the EU-South Africa Dialogue and EU-African partnership. South Africa welcomes Romania’s intentions to develop relations and enhancing more trade links, cooperation and political dialogue with other countries in Africa.
South Africa is also hopeful that together we will continue to work towards ensuring that the United Nations and other multilateral institutions address the global challenge of the world today. Among these are the issues of human security, the reform of the Bretton Woods institutions and United Nations Security Council, which are all paramount to an equitable and sustainable world that is peaceful and secure. I am convinced that the possibilities for further co-operation between South Africa and Romania are vast and our common vision for a more secure world will enable us to identify opportunities to enhance the creation of a better world for our respective peoples.
As a nation, South Africa’s strategic goal is the creation of a non-racial, non-sexist, just, democratic and prosperous society. To this end, South Africa has well-established institutions that support democracy and protect the rights of our citizens.
Free and fair elections are held every five years, and this democratic practice has enabled South Africans to choose a government of their choice.
South Africa’s Parliament is vibrant and holds the Executive accountable. We have a Constitution which guarantees basic human rights, such as freedom of association, freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary. On the building of social infrastructure and the provision of basic amenities, we have also made much progress as shown in our Reports to the United Nations. We have laid a solid foundation for a developmental state, which includes the extension of social security to the poor. The macro-economic fundamentals are in place, a critical ingredient for a stable and growing economy. Infrastructure development is the mainstay of our reconstruction, development and growth. Our banking system is efficient and well-regulated. The tourism sector is growing and so is our Internet connectivity. More importantly, given our past, we are making some strides towards building social cohesion that will manifest a non-racial society.
However, we are aware that despite this progress outlined above, much more still needs to be done to combat poverty, unemployment and under-development, to mention but a few. Internationally we are playing a recognizable role in fostering peace, security, a human rights culture and promoting multilateralism, as well as fair trade. On this account, we are determined as a nation to play our role not only in the building of a better Africa but also and equally critically, the building of a better world. We consider it our historical and moral duty and indeed obligation, to join forces with the rest of the African Continent, in advancing the cause of African development. There are certain historical variables that necessarily thrust us into the forefront of this continued struggle for a better African condition.
While we are only 5% of the population of Africa, South Africa accounts for 50% of trade in Africa.
It is now accepted that the dismal picture that characterized Africa shortly after independence has been replaced with optimism of an Africa determined to turn the corner and claim its place in history.
The sustainability of all our attempts to build an Africa that can claim its place and catch up with the rise and speed of development of the emerging powers, will largely be informed by sound institutions necessary to provide support to commerce-driven development, under free, just and democratic political arrangements.
Importantly, history enjoins us to make the aspirations of our people a reality! And herein lies the challenge to all of us.