South African Government

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President Cyril Ramaphosa: Opening remarks during talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali

12 Jan 2020

Opening remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the official talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali on the occasion of the Official Visit by Ethiopia at the Union Buildings

Allow me, on behalf of the people of South Africa, to extend a warm welcome to you and your delegation. 

We are very happy to receive you, and wish you to know that you are among brothers and sisters. 

I am advised, Your Excellency, that you regard South Africa as your second home, as you spent your student days at one of our local universities.

We recall with pride and gratitude the historic relations between South Africa and Ethiopia. 

We recognise the importance of the military training provided to Nelson Mandela as we embarked on our armed struggle, and deeply appreciate the overall contribution made by the governments and the people of Ethiopia during the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.

From previous conversations that we have had, I know that we share a vision of an African continent that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-sexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable.

South Africa recognises that development can best take place in a peaceful and stable environment and therefore wish to congratulate you on a host of successful political and social reforms that you have implemented. 

These innovative, bold and brave reforms include the promotion of gender equality, the release of political prisoners and journalists, and the commitment to national elections later this year. 

We have witnessed your vision and courage in the measures you have taken towards the resolution of the situation with Eritrea, a situation that appeared to be intractable. 

We recognise the importance of these efforts in paving the way towards the normalisation of relations with Eritrea.

In recognition of these efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, the Nobel Peace Committee awarded you the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, making you the 100th Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. 

Once again, we extend to you our heartfelt congratulations. 

Due to your efforts, often under very difficult circumstances, Ethiopia is ready to benefit from significant investment in its economy and social and economic development.

In fact, the whole region stands to benefit from the emerging regional peace which lays the foundation for greater economic and social progress.

I wish to take this opportunity to express my country’s unparalleled support for Ethiopia’s political endeavours and its developmental aspirations. 

Your successes are closely linked to those of South Africa and to the rest of the Continent.

As both our countries are signatories to the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, as well as the Tripartite Free Trade Area, there are immense opportunities to improve our trade and enhance investment opportunities in our respective economies. 

I have noted that we have not adequately made use of the Joint Ministerial Commission since its inception, and it is imperative that the JMC be used to create momentum for deeper and expanded political and economic relations. 

After all, it is only through closer collaboration and increased intra-Africa trade that our Continent can develop and prosper. 

We look forward to the signing of Memoranda of Understanding in the fields of Tourism and Health. 

These agreements reflect a recommitment to work together towards a better future for our people and a safer and more prosperous Africa. 

South Africa is keen, through the signing of the MoU on Tourism, to encourage direct institutional partnerships to promote tourism as well as student and academic exchange programmes. 

A strategic partnership should develop from the increased bilateral work flowing from the Joint Ministerial Commission. 

The respective Ministers of Foreign Affairs should work towards achieving a strategic partnership to ensure substantive and deepening relations. 

As South Africa prepares to assume the role of Chair of the African Union, we hope for closer cooperation as we advance Agenda 2063, in particular the realisation of the objective of Silencing the Guns in 2020.

Your Excellency,

I am hopeful that out of this meeting we will agree on measures to strengthen our joint cooperation. 

I wish to reiterate, Prime Minister, our pleasure at being able to receive you and again wish you and your delegation a very warm welcome to South Africa. 

We most certainly look forward to fruitful engagements and outcomes. 

I thank you.

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