Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Cape Town

18 February 1997

Your Majesties;
Deputy President Mbeki;
Honourable Ministers;
Members of the diplomatic corps;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

I had the great pleasure of welcoming Your Majesty to our country a year ago, when you visited us as the Patron of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. It is an even greater pleasure to receive you as Head of State of one of freedom's staunchest allies. It is an honour to welcome the monarch of a people that reached out so firmly to us from the very continent that once nurtured the oppression of our country and our continent of Africa.

A year has passed since your last visit; a year that has been testing but full of achievement. In that time we have consolidated the foundation for a better life. We have set the seal on our transition to the democracy whose attainment was a common goal of our peoples.

For South Africans, the name of Sweden will always be indelibly linked with support for shared ideals. Amongst the things that sustained us in that dark period was the humanitarian aid that came from Sweden. It brought hope and comfort to prisoners, detainees, refugees and exiles.

It helped keep alive the ideal of a society based on a culture of human rights and governed by just laws, even in the midst of a system which subverted these ideals in pursuit of domination and privilege.

We shall never forget the generosity of Your Majesty's people and your country. That aid was given without conditions and with respect for the right of the oppressed to pursue their freedom by the means they judged to be necessary.

Now the bonds forged in struggle are being transmuted into a partnership for peace and prosperity. The Agreement on Development Co-operation which we signed today gives formal expression to that relationship, and will help to strengthen it.

In helping South Africa to strengthen democracy and eradicate the legacy of apartheid, Sweden is assisting us once again in achieving our goals - through co-operation in education; human rights training; support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; training of police as well as small and medium entrepreneurs; and more. The plentiful assistance to NGOs is helping to foster an empowered and vibrant civil society. Sweden's support for South Africa in the European Union is also of great importance to us.

In the few short years since we achieved democratic government, trade between our countries has increased dramatically. The establishment of a permanent Swedish Trade Council last year reflected that change and is helping to boost it. This visit will further encourage our two business sectors to identify more opportunities for trade and investment.

We welcome especially your government's focus on the development of business, including joint ventures, amongst those who were previously excluded.

The personal interest of Your Majesties in the environmental and social welfare of our nation is greatly appreciated. Our young democracy has put these issues amongst its priorities. South Africa was glad of the opportunity last year to participate in the World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children, which your Majesties so strongly supported.

South Africa will never forget Sweden's example of extending to the whole world its vision of a caring society based on human rights. We commit ourselves to working with Sweden for peace, democracy and equitable international relations. In particular, we set store on our co-operation in the Carisson Group on Global Governance and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Support, as practical ways of promoting these goals.

In spite of the vast distance between Sweden and South Africa and the differences in language and culture, there is a special place in the hearts of South Africans for the people of Sweden. The vision and the ideals we share transcend the distance and the differences. As you meet with the people of South Africa, you will feel for yourselves the warmth of that bond.

May our two nations always be blessed by this friendship.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I ask you to join me in a toast to His Majesty King Gustaf and the people of Sweden, and to the flourishing of relations between our countries.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website