Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of Prime Minister Brundtland of Norway, Cape Town

12 Feburary 1996

Prime Minister Harlem Brundtland;
Minister Godal
Deputy President Mbeki;
Deputy President De Klerk;
Honourable Ministers;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

Our countries could scarcely be situated further apart, lying at almost opposite ends of the globe. Geography and history have bequeathed us only limited economic relations. But the bond between us could not be closer or warmer.

It is therefore a special pleasure, now that we have achieved our freedom, to welcome you, Mme Brundtland, as the leader of a nation that elected to stand with us and make our cause their own, at a time when it was neither fashionable nor easy to do so. Indeed, we do know that this was not without cost. For that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your support for sanctions, and your humanitarian and development aid have been of immense benefit in providing support and succour; in making educational opportunities possible; and in contributing to victory in struggle.

Above all we thank the Norwegian people for respecting the judgment of the oppressed in South Africa as to what kinds of struggle could achieve their liberation. This is the mark of a country which has had to struggle for its own independence and for the preservation of its own freedom.

Even after the advent of democracy, that respect for our judgment informs Norway's generous development assistance, In your support for our programmes for uplifting the quality of life of all our people, and for strengthening democracy and peace, you have again made our goals and priorities your own.

The quality of your caring was eloquent in your visit yesterday to Robben Island, and your gift to help ensure that the Island remains a living symbol of freedom, peace and reconciliation. It is consistent with the Norwegian people's recognition, through the Nobel Prize, of the contribution which the people of South Africa have made to world peace.

For us your visit is therefore an opportunity both to celebrate, and to re-affirm, the partnership between our countries, and to ensure that the bonds forged in struggle flourish in freedom.

The development of all round relations will be furthered by the agreements which we signed this morning.

We attach great importance to the development of economic relations between our countries, as a sound and lasting contribution to economic growth in South Africa. We appreciate in particular the fact that our exports to your country have been facilitated by Norway's extension to us of the Generalised System of Preferences. We are confident that this visit will allow your delegation and South African business to identify opportunities for further trade and investment.

South Africa is immensely proud of the achievements of its sports-people and grateful for the contribution they are making to uniting our nation. But sport also has the capacity to draw nations closer together. We are terefore pleased to see amongst your delegation the president of the Norwegian Confederation of Sports, and look forward to co-operation between our countries in sport and physical recreation.

Prime Minister; your own determination and courage in fighting for the rights of women and children is widely admired. Norway is in the world's vanguard in matters of gender equality and serves as an inspiring example. Our own government is committed to implementing the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which it ratified last year.

We are committed too to joining with Norway in working for peace and stability, for development, prosperity and human rights every- where. We therefore appreciate in particular the steps to co-operate in the fields of peace-keeping in Southern Africa and nuclear non- proliferation. We welcome the presence in your delegation of Foreign Minister Godal - this will help to cement bilateral relations and to take our co-operation in international affairs to a still higher level of partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen;

Allow me to propose a toast to His Majesty King Harald V and the people of Norway, and to the flourishing of friendship between our peoples. SKOL

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website