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Deputy President Motlanthe,
Ministers Gordhan and Davies,
Deputy Minister Martins,
I am very pleased to welcome you all to the closing plenary session of the 7th Germany-South Africa Binational Commission at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. By being here today, you are showing what importance you attach to our countries’ bilateral relations.
After Dirk Niebel and I enjoyed your wonderful hospitality in Pretoria in April 2010, we are delighted to be able to welcome you to Germany in turn.
South Africa is Germany’s most important partner in Sub Saharan Africa. Germany and the Germans have been steadily following South Africa’s peaceful development with great respect. We see South Africa’s new political and economic clout as a tremendous opportunity to further expand and strengthen our good cooperation. A strategic partnership links South Africa and Germany and the Binational Commission reflects our desire for even closer cooperation within the framework of that partnership.
In the future, South Africa and Germany will expand their cooperation in the promising growth areas of climate protection, renewable energies, and education and training. Especially in the area of vocational training, Germany has a wealth of experience to share.
As countries with large populations and strong economies, South Africa and Germany are key states in their respective regional alliances.
South Africa is the driving force and the heavyweight of the South African Development Community and the African Union.
Germany, for its part, is firmly anchored in the European Union. Currently our focus is on dealing with Europe’s sovereign debt crisis.
Germany is aware of its responsibilities in Europe and is also aware of Europe’s responsibilities in the world. By providing liquidity at short notice, we have clearly shown the markets how determined we are. With policies for growth that strengthen Europe’s competitiveness, we want to see our continent emerge from the crisis stronger than it was before the crisis started.
South Africa and Germany are strengthening their cooperation not only for their own mutual benefit, but out of joint responsibility for all. Yesterday, our newly created committee on foreign and security policy convened for the first time. This new committee testifies to our common desire to help tackle global challenges. On the issue of UN Security Council reform, for example, South Africa and Germany are already pulling together. We see South Africa as a strong and reliable partner in shaping globalization.
The strong and multifaceted relations enjoyed by South Africa and Germany are only possible because they are built on a sturdy foundation, namely common values. The history of our countries shows that people’s desire for freedom, the rule of law, and human dignity is stronger than barbed wire. Our countries may be thousands of kilometres apart, but this common experience unites us.
Before we hear the reports of the various joint committees, I would like to cede the podium to my co chairman. Deputy President Motlanthe, the floor is yours.