Excellencies High Commissioners and Ambassadors-designate;
Senior Government Officials;
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, I am pleased to warmly welcome you all and wish to thank you for joining us on this special occasion. Your presence here today is a further demonstration of the importance the countries you represent attach to our continued cooperation for mutual benefit.
Our relations as governments and people must continue to be nurtured for the common good of humanity. We are responsible global citizens. The year 2015 witnessed the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We intend to build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals to work towards the realisation of the SDGs.
As you are aware, when we collectively contributed to the adoption of the SDGs we did so well aware of the need for linkages our regional and national developmental agendas to the SDGs.
Ladies and gentlemen
These goals were adopted at a time when the global economy is slowly recovering from the 2008 financial crisis. The recently held G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, considered a variety of issues which affect the global economy.
Issues such as SDGs, energy access, climate change and the current refugee crises were unsurprisingly prominent. The Summit also focused on women in the labour market, youth employment and SMMEs among others.
While we are committed to finding lasting solutions to challenges facing humanity, we must be conscious that some issues are urgent and pressing. Climate change is one of those issues which need our urgent attention in order to preserve human lives.
South Africa fully supports France in its capacity as incoming COP21/CMP11 President and will work towards finding fair compromises and consensus positions between Parties. We therefore hope for a collective will to adopt an ambitious and legally-binding outcome in Paris that is applicable to all.
We have witnessed how lack of peace and security in some parts of the world can present challenges to stable countries. The current refugee crisis in Europe as a result of continuing conflicts in Syria and other parts of the world is one case in point.
We acknowledge that management of refugees is an immediate challenge; however we all have a responsibility to address the root causes. The Middle East has been yearning for peace and progress has been very slow.
Africa has registered considerable achievements over the years; however lack of cooperation between international partners and the AU risks a reversal of such achievements. It is important that international partners support regional initiatives to bring about peace rather than imposing their own initiatives.
The AU’ Agenda 2063, which was adopted by the AU Summit in June 2015 in Johannesburg, is achievable. We need to strengthen partnerships between ourselves as Africans and work in collaboration with our international partners.
Ladies and gentlemen
We must forge ahead with efforts to find solutions to African problems. We have tested our capabilities to bring sustained peace on the continent in order to create favourable conditions for increased prosperity.
In this regard, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) and the multinational African Standby Force successfully held its first joint exercise in South Africa in October 2015. The force has been established by the African Union to intervene when conflicts arise in the continent.
I would like to inform you that preparations for the hosting of the December 2015 Johannesburg Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Summit are at an advanced stage. We all look forward to this important event. Once again, Welcome to South Africa, Excellencies.
We look forward to working with you all to ensure advanced bilateral relations with your respective countries, and progress in advancing a wide range of issues to make the world a better place.
We wish you a fulfilling stay in our country.
I thank you!
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS