Address by President Nelson Mandela at the state banquet in honour of Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Cape Town

20 February 1996

Your Majesty;
Your Royal Highnesses;
Deputy President Mbeki;
Deputy President De Klerk;
Honourable ministers;
Members of the diplomatic corps;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

We were eagerly anticipating your visit last year, Your Majesty, and were disappointed that it proved impossible. It is, therefore, an even greater pleasure to welcome you to our country now.

Indeed, one year later there is even more that we can show you of the fruits of the victory that we shared with the people of Denmark. We do so with great pride. for Danes will always hold a special place in the hearts of South Africans, as champions of the oppressed who did not count the cost to themselves when they heeded the call for a world-wide offensive against apartheid.

We shall not forget the generosity of Denmark, along with the other Scandinavian countries. You made available abundant humanitarian aid without any conditions.

You assisted us not out of charity, but in the spirit of partnership. For that, especially, we thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Your Majesty;

As we celebrate, through your visit, the special bond of those who have shared the trials of struggle, we are confident that you will feel the pulse of a nation filled with hope for the future.

It could have been otherwise, for the conflict was bitter and the repression inflicted on our people violent and harsh.

Amongst the things that sustained hope in that climate was the humanitarian aid we received. It brought succour to prisoners and detainees, and to the refugees and exiles. Legal aid made it possible to keep alive the ideal of just law and a living culture of human rights, even in the midst of an illegitimate system.

Our new constitution and our new institutions are as much testament to your solidarity as are the empty prison cells and deserted quarry of Robben Island which you visited today.
In helping us to strengthen our democracy and to address the legacy of apartheid, Denmark is again assisting us in achieving our goals, through reconstruction and development.

The size and the composition of your distinguished delegation augurs well for the strengthening of all-round relations between our countries.

In a few short years trade between our countries has multiplied, and no doubt this visit will allow your delegation and South African business to identify further opportunities for trade and investment. We welcome especially your focus on promoting the development of business, including joint ventures, amongst those who were previously excluded from such opportunities.

We appreciate Denmark's decision to make Africa the principal destination of its aid. As Africa forges its renaissance through its own efforts, such aid will be of great help in dealing with the legacy of its history, and the threat of marginalisation.

Now that South Africa has achieved its freedom, we shall not forget Denmark's example of how even small countries can give impetus to the birth of a new international order, by extending to the whole world the care and respect it accords its own citizens. We commit ourselves to working with Denmark for peace, democracy and equitable international relations.

Your Majesty, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, may I bid you and your Royal Highnesses, as well as the members of your entourage, most welcome to our country.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I ask you all to join me in a toast to Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and the people of Denmark; and to the flourishing of friendship between our peoples.


Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website