President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Opening Remarks at Official Talks with President de Sousa during the Portugal State Visit, Union Buildings, Pretoria, 6 June 2023
Your Excellency, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa,
Chargé d’Affaires of the Portuguese Embassy, Mr Manuel do Vale,
Ambassador-Designate of the Portuguese Republic to South Africa, Mr José Costa Pereira,
Ambassador Mmamokoena Gaoretelelwe, Head of Mission at the South African Embassy in Lisbon,
Members of the Portuguese and South African delegations,
I wish to thank you, Your Excellency, for honouring our invitation to visit South Africa.
We hope that this, your first visit to South Africa will be a productive one.
The 10th of June is Portugal Day, and it is no doubt a great honour for South Africa’s Portuguese community that you are here to celebrate this occasion with them.
South Africa is home to the world’s third largest community in the Portuguese Diaspora. The Portuguese community’s culture, traditions, customs and food are very much part of our national life.
One of South Africa’s greatest strengths is that we are united in our diversity. The Portuguese community contributes much to that diversity and to that strength.
We congratulate you, your delegation and the South African Portuguese community in advance as you celebrate Portugal Day.
The relationship between Portugal and Southern Africa stretches back several centuries and has evolved into a partnership of cooperation and solidarity.
Our bilateral relationship is of strategic importance to South Africa. We collaborate in several sectors, such as education, science and technology, trade, investment and defence.
Our meeting today is an opportunity to deepen our collaboration in another important field, namely energy.
Portugal is one of the countries in Europe that has been pioneering the deployment of renewable energy. As we confront our own energy challenges, we are keen to discuss best practice, technology transfer and investment potential in this sector.
In recent years, we have come to appreciate how interconnected the global community is, and how we need to work together to solve common challenges like climate change, pandemics and armed conflict.
As the countries of the world work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must step up our collaboration to address these challenges.
The countries of Africa recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union. This anniversary comes at a time when the cause of continental economic integration is finding expression in the African Continental Free Trade Area.
This free trade area will create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of approximately $3.4 trillion. Not only will it boost intra-African trade and investment, but it will also create opportunities for greater trade and investment between Africa and other parts of the world.
It is therefore encouraging at this time to receive visits from countries such as Portugal that are committed to the cause of Africa’s development and prosperity.
In our discussions today, we will also take note of multilateral matters of mutual importance.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had a global impact.
As South Africa we believe that negotiation and dialogue can indeed play an important role in resolving conflict. We know this from our own experience of our transition to democracy.
We continue to advocate for rules-based multilateralism that should be at the centre of global efforts to address common challenges.
It has always been our view that peace and security create more space and favourable conditions for development and advancing mutual prosperity.
I welcome you once more to South Africa and look forward to our engagement.
I now invite you, Mr President, to make your opening statement.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency