Address by President Nelson Mandela at a banquet in honour of the German Channellor, Dr Helmut Kohl

11 September 1995

Your Excellency, Chancellor Kohl;
Deputy President De Klerk;
Madame Speaker;
President of the Senate;
Honourable Ministers;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

This first visit of a German Chancellor to our country serves to re-affirm that South Africa is, indeed, part of the democratic community.

Mr Chancellor, as Europe's senior Statesman, you have displayed great leadership in guiding Germany through a turbulent period in her history. The influential role Germany assumed within the European Union in addressing Europe's problems without forgetting the rest of the world, is a source of inspiration to us all.

May I then, on behalf of the people of South Africa, extend to you and your delegation a warm welcome. It is my wish that your stay will be fruitful and enriching

South Africa sees in your visit an opportunity to strengthen and build a strong and valuable partnership that will guide us into the 21st century.

Ladies and gentlemen;

We know that the challenges facing South Africa today are in many ways comparable to those that faced Germany after the Second World War. In as much as we benefited immensely from the support of the German people in the struggle against apartheid, we can learn much by drawing on your valuable experiences in reconstruction and development.

The German constitution has, for example, become a popular reference point for South African experts. We believe we can learn much from Germany in the field of combating crime. Above all, history has placed economic reconstruction and national reconciliation at the centre of the challenges faced by both countries.

Germany and South Africa are both committed to playing a role as full and equal partners in our respective regions. And we are both engaged in redefining our positions in a rapidly shrinking world. This will inevitably open up new avenues for bilateral and international co-operation.

South Africans have eagerly grasped at the opportunity which democracy has provided, to build a united nation and to begin to tackle the task of building a better life for all who live in this country. The spirit of partnership amongst political parties and different sectors of society has taken deep root.

In particular South Africans understand well that the legacy of decades of neglect will not be easily or quickly reversed. For that reason we are focusing with increased intensity on the central challenge of achieving and sustaining levels of growth and development even beyond those that marked our first year of democracy.

Germany's contribution to the Reconstruction and Development Programme of more than R400 million this year, makes her one of the major contributors to the transformation of our society. For that we are very grateful.

As the second largest foreign investor in our country Germany is contributing crucially to our economic development. We value foreign investment not just for the resources it brings, but because it promotes innovation which enhances the productivity and competitiveness of the South African economy. With business confidence in our economy growing, we are sure that other German companies will soon put their plans into action.

Since Germany is currently our main trading partner, we naturally attach the greatest importance to this area. As South Africa tries to establish trade links with the European Community, we are glad to know that we can count on Germany's support.

We also appreciate most highly Germany's contribution to the partnership between the European Union and the Southern African Development Community.

Mr Chancellor;

The agreements on technical and development co-operation which we signed today, as well as the investment protection agreement, will contribute in practical ways towards facilitating and cementing a mutually beneficial relationship between our countries. The warm and fruitful talks held this morning have set the tone and the course for an enduring partnership.

We also welcome the bilateral relations which have been recently established between some South African Provinces and German Lander. They are spreading our co-operation to grassroots level.

We believe with confidence that the economic potential of South Africa will make close links between our countries of benefit to Germany as well.

We therefore look forward to the flourishing of the relationship between our governments and our peoples, as one which will being manifold benefits.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I ask you to rise and raise your glasses in a toast to Chancellor Kohl and to the people of the Federal Republic of Germany, and at the same time to toast continuing good relations between our countries.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation