Address by President Nelson Mandela at a luncheon in Stockholm, Sweden

18 March 1999

Your Majesties
Mr Prime Minister
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind words, Mr Prime Minister. The warmth of our reception in Sweden, together with the memories of my previous visits, bring to mind the words of my leader Oliver Tambo, when he reflected on the loss to Sweden, to South Africa and the world of one of our century's great leaders, Olof Palme.

As your Minister Schori recalls it in his book, Oliver Tambo said: "Sweden's solidarity sustained us in our most difficult moments - which way would Sweden now go? The new Swedish Prime Minister came forward and said: 'We will go on as before, nothing will change'".

Indeed, nothing has changed. One of our staunchest supporters in the fight for freedom remains one of our closest friends and allies now that we are free.

And yet everything has changed, precisely because our shared victory has made possible what we only dreamed of before: the reconstruction of our country; the unfettered development of our region; and the rebirth of our continent.

Despite many difficulties we have been able to bring more change in the lives of ordinary people than was even attempted by any previous government in the history of our country. Yet such is the extent of the poverty and deprivation that we cannot complete the task without the partnership of the industrialised countries.

We therefore warmly welcome the continuing growth in relations between South Africa and the Kingdom of Sweden: the expanding economic ties and the development co-operation extending into the next century; the assistance in developing Southern Africa's capacity in peace-keeping; and our co-operation in international affairs.

The task of realising our shared goals for all the people of South Africa will take many years to complete. The policies we adopted as we began to transform our society, remain the correct policies. Our need for your support remains as it was.

In that sense, therefore: We will go on as before.

But the foundation laid in the first years of our freedom will allow those that follow us to do still more, and to do it better.

My confidence is enhanced still further by the knowledge that on my retirement I will be leaving behind a capable leadership who will lend still more strength to the bonds between our countries and peoples.

When you visit our country later this year, Mr Prime Minister, you will experience all these things for yourself. You may also see a former President standing at the roadside, out of a job - if so I hope that you will remember me!

While I will not be able personally to welcome and host you, you can be assured as a representative of the Swedish people, of South Africa's warmest hospitality. You can count on the most serious attention to the work of building the partnership between our countries.

South Africa benefited from the commitment of the Swedish people to a vision of a world based on respect for human dignity. The task of realising that vision, in our country; in our continent; and wherever people live, is still far from done.

May we together go on as before, Sweden and South Africa, European and African, developed and developing countries, to make a reality of our hopes.

Ladies and gentlemen;

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

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation