Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of King Harald V of Norway, Cape Town

25 February 1998

Your Majesties;
Deputy President Mbeki;
Distinguished guests.

It is a special pleasure to play host to Your Majesties. We appreciate that you have sacrificed attending the Winter Olympic Games in Japan, something I know is close to your heart, in order to pay a State Visit to our country. I assure you that the warm welcome you receive from South Africans will dispel any longing for the cold Olympic snows.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate Norway on the outstanding performance of its athletes in the Games. I might add that had your been there you would have seen how South Africans are so encouraged by our welcome to international sport that we are even daring, in our own small way, to challenge the giants of winter sports who hail from your country!

But such is the nature of our liberation that in every field of endeavour we are taking on new challenges and aspiring to goals that before were mere dreams. These things, we know, have become possible because we had allies in the international community, none more so than the people of Norway.

We shall never forget the selfless support and unstinting generosity of the Norwegian people. Along with other Nordic countries you made available humanitarian aid without any conditions or motives apart from the fostering of democracy and the upliftment of our people. Without counting the cost you answered our call for a world-wide campaign to isolate the apartheid regime.

Your visit affords us an opportunity to express once again our heartfelt thanks. Now the bonds of shared struggle are being transformed into a partnership for development and peace.

That is why we were so pleased to welcome Prime Minister Brundtland to South Africa two years ago. Your Majesties' visit sets the seal on that relationship and gives it added impetus. The strong delegation you have brought with you, and the meetings that have been arranged for them, give clear expression of our joint intent.

You will also be able you to see for yourself how South Africans are using the opportunity that democracy brings to address our people's basic needs. You will sense the confidence born of our experience that solutions can be found to even the most profound problems when people work together for the good of all.

We know that it will take years for us to give true meaning to our freedom by ensuring that all our people have enough to eat, that they have access to clean drinking water and adequate shelter; and that they no longer suffer from curable disease.

But we are proud of the start that we have made and we know that we can overcome the immense challenges that face us with the support of our friends.

Together we can sustain the recent dramatic increase in trade between our countries; we can give full scope to Norway's desire to promote the development of business, including through joint ventures, among those who were previously excluded; and we can enhance still further the impact of your development co-operation in entrenching our democracy, promoting reconciliation, and improving education.

The potential is immense, and we have only just started to realise it.

Now that South Africa has achieved its freedom, we shall always remember Norway's example of extending to the whole world the values of a caring society. We commit ourselves to working with Norway for peace, democracy and equitable international relations.

We are proud to have worked with Norway to help eradicate the scourge of land-mines. We will continue to work with you in this and other fields where our countries can help make the world a better place for our children. We appreciate, too, Norway's practical contribution to promoting peace in Southern Africa.

Your Majesties, on behalf of the Government and all the people of South Africa, may I bid you and your entourage, most welcome to our country.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I ask you to join me in a toast to His Majesty King Harald V and the people of Norway, and to the flourishing of friendship between our peoples.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website