President Von Rompuy, President Barroso and the EU Commissioners and delegation,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
The Business Delegation,
I extend a warm welcome to you, on the occasion of this 6th South Africa-EU Summit.
We meet on an important day for South Africa, as we mark the 95th birthday of our beloved President Nelson Mandela, the first President of a free and democratic South Africa.
We were greatly honoured when the United Nations declared the 18th of July as International Nelson Mandela Day. We are truly happy to share this special occasion with you.
Former President Mandela’s struggle for freedom and justice in our country and his values of promoting a fair, just and equitable world, continue to inspire and motivate us and will do so for future generations.
I visited him in hospital this morning. He continues to respond positively to treatment and we are encouraged by the progress he is making.
We also congratulate all in our country and the world who are today participating in doing community work to mark Madiba’s great day.
We are happy to meet within the context of our SA-EU Strategic Partnership with the purpose of strengthening our trade and investment ties as well as political cooperation in the country and the continent.
The theme of this year’s Summit, “Job creation through inward investment” is timely and relevant, as both regions face challenges of unemployment, especially among youth.
I look forward to our discussions on the theme and on how we can co-operate in ensuring that our Strategic Partnership supports employment creation, skills and technology transfer, innovation, best practice, capacity building and sustainable development initiatives in line with our National Development Plan Vision 2030.
The SA-EU partnership is strategic and very important for South Africa. The Union has maintained its lead as South Africa’s most important regional trading partner and provider of development assistance.
Our bilateral total trade grew by eight percent in 2012 and there is potential for further growth in trade and investments.
A key event at this Summit will be the signing of the Agreement between South Africa and the European Atomic Energy Community for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
In addition to our bilateral issues, we also look forward to discussing some of the regional and global issues which notably includes Africa-EU relations.
Let me extend a warm welcome once more to our honoured guests and partners. We are looking forward to a highly productive meeting.
Let me wish all of you a Happy International Mandela Day!
I thank you.