Address by President Nelson Mandela at luncheon in his honour, Budapest - Hungary

3 May 1999

Mr President;
Your excellencies;
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you Mr President, for your kind and gracious words. You have made us feel most welcome in your beautiful country. So too have the meetings our delegation has been having over the past days, and our warm encounters with the people of Budapest.

And, if I may say so, being hosted by a former political prisoner does add to the ease and familiarity of the occasion!

It reminds us also of Hungary's solidarity with our struggle for liberation, at a time when we were alone. Without that support, and that of the international community in general, the cost of our freedom would have been much higher in terms of human suffering.

It was important to visit Hungary before the end of South Africa's first democratic government which you helped put in place, and before my own retirement form public life, so that we could say: "Thank you for the support and hospitality of the government and people of Hungary."

Because your support included a focus on education and youth, its effects are still visible today in some of the senior officials in our government and economy.

That legacy lives on in the emphasis on human resource development, science and technology which are at the heart of the partnership we are building as South Africa faces the challenges of reconstruction and development.

Out people are our greatest asset, and there can be no better investment in our future than to build their skills and productivity. We are very conscious of how much we can learn in this regard from a country whose scientific achievements are out of all proportion to its size.

But we also know that there are many ways we can learn from one another and assist one another. We have both in our own ways had to struggle for democratic rights, and to entrench them within diversity. We are both relatively small countries seeking sustained growth in a globalised world economy.

Amongst other things that common context leads us to welcome the ties of trade and investment that have been growing since South Africa achieved its freedom. We need to ensure that the expansion of economic ties does not falter, even as we define ourselves as members of regional blocs, ourselves in the Southern African Development Community and Hungary in time as part of the European Union.

It is important, as we do so, that the investments that we make in one another's economies should boost the skills and productive capacity of our peoples. That is what the South African government expects of the increasing volume of investment by South Africa business in Hungary.

It is also, unfortunately, necessary that we should sustain the co-operation in combating international organised crime that has been strengthened by the agreement signed today.

Our common international context emphasises the fact that our own progress as nations cannot be achieved in isolation. It depends not only on our own efforts but also on the strength and integrity of the multilateral and international bodies which have responsibility for the collective pursuit of world peace and development.

We appreciate the close working relationship that has developed between us in a number of multilateral areas. That includes the fight against the proliferation of armaments, in particular in relation to the control of missiles and eradication of land-mines. At this time none of us can be complacent about the need to reduce the means available for inflicting violence and destruction.

Mr President;

It gives us great pleasure that this by myself and two of our Ministers will help advance these common objectives of Hungary and South Africa. We thank you for the opportunity to build our partnership for peace, prosperity and equity..

Ladies and Gentlemen; I ask you all to stand and drink a toast to President Goncz; between out two countries.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website