Address by President Nelson Mandela at luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister of Denmark, Copenhagen

16 March 1999

Prime Minister;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great privilege to have this opportunity to meet with you, Mr Prime Minister, on this all-too-brief visit to Denmark, along with members of your government.

Because the inhumanity of apartheid offended and challenged the moral sensibility of the world our struggle won the support and solidarity of virtually all political persuasions and people in every walk of life.

We feel that support in the immense warmth with which we have been welcomed in Denmark. We see it reflected here today in the presence of leaders of so many sectors of Danish society that were involved in the world-wide campaign to isolate apartheid, and that are today part of the reconstruction and development of our country.

This occasion allows us to thank all those whose commitment to justice helped move their compatriots to support us. We still have far to travel along the road to that just and prosperous society of which we dreamed together, and for which we continue to work together. But with the support of our friends and allies we shall succeed in the task of giving material content to the freedom and the rights we won with your help.

This meeting is therefore also an opportunity to say how pleased we are at the rapid expansion in our bilateral relations. That includes the mutually enriching cultural exchanges. It includes the fifteen-fold increase in trade since the early nineties; the growing investment that boosts our productive capacity; the substantial development co-operation that has been extended into the next century, and more.

Because Denmark has made world development so much a part of its national concerns, we know that you need to persuading of the critical importance of redefining relations between developing and industrialised countries, so that historical imbalance gives way to equity.

In this regard I would like to put on record our appreciation of Denmark's understanding of an support for our position in the negotiations over a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

When Denmark's vigorous defence of our interests leads some in the EU to refer to the Danes as quasi-South Africans, I do not know if those who speak that way intend it as a compliment. But I do know that given Denmark's contribution, despite its small size, to the shaping of a better world, South Africans would be honoured to be called quasi-Danes.

Mr Prime Minister;

South Africa takes immense pride in what has been achieved in these past five years to address the legacy of our divided and violent past. We entertain the hope that you who shared in creating the possibility of a better life for all South Africans, also share in that pride.

As we approach our second democratic elections - and as I prepare to enjoy that time of calm which should be granted to all men and women - it is with confidence in the strength of the democratic institutions which have taken root in my country, in the new generation of leaders; and in the capacity of our people to ensure that the challenges that face us are met.

If in these brief remarks I have emphasised such practical matters as aid and trade, investment and the regulation of the world economic system, it is because in our modem world of interdependent nations these things are critical to the enjoyment of the rights for which there has been such courageous struggle and sacrifice.

In the same measure, the enjoyment of those rights depends on the democratisation of international organisations and the strengthening of the collective capacity of regions, continents and the world to achieve the peaceful resolution of conflicts.

We know that Denmark is committed to these goals. Be assured that South Africa is committed to working with Denmark for their achievement.

I thank you

Issued by: The Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website