Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of President Carlos Saul Menem of Argentina

24 February 1995

Your Excellency President Menem,
Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Honoured Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I feel deeply honoured to play host to you, Your Excellency, and the distinguished members of your delegation on this auspicious occasion.

We are proud to welcome you in our country. In support of our struggle for freedom, your own country took the self-denying step of severing ties with apartheid South Africa. We hope that you enjoy your visit here. Short as it is, we are convinced that you will nevertheless sense the mood of a nation liberated from the bonds of oppression and conflict, and united in determination to redress the legacy of its past.

Mr President, you are the first Latin American head of state to pay an official visit to our country since the inauguration of the rapidly growing all-round relations between our peoples.

There is much which favours close links between our countries, and which creates a basis for a partnership of mutual benefit.

As countries on the edge of the South Atlanic, which we share with the Antartic, we have a common interest in promoting peace and co-operation and the sustainable use of resources.

As societies securing the consolidation of recently established democracies, we have much to learn from one another. I have no doubt that the work of our Constitutional Assembly, which is always eager to benefit from the experience of other countries, will be able to draw on the manner in which you reviewed your constitution.

As economies with many characteristics in common and undergoing economic reform of similar kinds, there are a great number opportunities for mutually beneficial interchanges of trade and investment. Much of what is developed in the field of science and technology in our two countries, is appropriate to the needs of the other.

The rapid increase in trade between our countries in the short period since South Africa was accepted into the international community, is a firm indicator of the potential, as are the agreements already made between research institutions.

The Joint Communique which we signed this morning establishes a framework for developing our relations in all these areas, as well as others such as culture and the arts, and tourism. Co-operation in combating drug-trafficking, will assist both our countries in dealing with this international scourge.

In the development of our relations we look forward in particular to finding ways in which we can give mutual support to the programmes for sustainable economic growth which we both have. The consolidation and future stability of our newly-won democracy will depend sharply on our capacity to translate our freedom into real changes in the lives of our people.

It is my sincere hope, Mr President, that your visit will go a long way in cementing bilateral relations between our countries and in bringing South Africa closer to the Latin American community. We shall continue to hold your hands firmly across the Atlantic.

May I ask you all to rise and raise your glasses in a toast to the good relations that exist between Argentine and South Africa and to the continued good health of His Excellency, President Carlos Saul Menam and the people of Argentina.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation