Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Sue van
der Merwe, on the occasion of the Farewell Lunch in honour of Ambassador Roberto
Magnacca of Argentine, Villa Sterne, 12 December 2005
Ambassador and Mrs Magnacca
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured to host this occasion and to
bid farewell, on behalf of the South African Government, to Ambassador Magnacca,
after having served for nearly four and a half years as the Argentine Ambassador
to South Africa. I am sure you will agree with me, Your Excellency, that four
and a half years is not that much when we consider the challenges we as diplomats
are faced with in the world today and before you know it is time to move on. In
the words of a famous poet "a day's passed and we don't feel it; and a year's
gone, and a time has come to say goodbye."
As many of you will know,
Ambassador Magnacca came to South Africa with a distinguished diplomatic career
already behind him. He has used his vast experience to contribute to the further
enhancement of our bilateral relations, which were re-established in 1991.
As you are aware, our bilateral relations have remained strong
and vibrant across a broad array of fields. Your tireless commitment to the strengthening
our bilateral relations has culminated in the agreement to establish a Bi-national
Commission at Foreign Minister level. For over a year you have ardently championed
this important Agreement which was signed on 18 September 2005 by Minister Dlamini
Zuma and her Argentine counterpart, His Excellency Dr Rafael Bielsa. The Bi-national
Commission will facilitate the structured management of bilateral relations under
the immediate control of the Foreign Ministers of our two countries assisted by
the relevant technical line-function Departments.
Our bilateral relations
will be further guided by a number of bilateral agreements that are now in the
final stages of preparation. They include Agreements on Extradition and on Mutual
Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Co-operation in the Fields of Science and
Technology, Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, Co-operation
in Sport and Recreation, Cultural Co-operation, and the Co-ordination of Maritime
and Aeronautical Search and Rescue Services.
In addition, both our countries
share very similar and common positions and objectives regarding issues such as
the development agenda of the South; the centrality and importance of multilateralism
and of the United Nations system; and the reform of global economic governance
and the global trading system. South Africa and Argentine are also members of
a number of multilateral organisations important for the agenda of the South.
These include the Cairns Group, the Valdivia Group, the Antarctic Treaty System,
the Zone of Peace and Co-operation of the South Atlantic, the G20+ and others.
That our relations are on a sound footing is therefore not
in doubt, but we need to do more to improve our co-operation. We need to build
on these initiatives to help develop a common vision that will contribute to the
agenda of the South. In this regard, we need to accelerate our engagement in trade
liberalisation and integration through the current Mercosur/SACU free trade negotiations
as well as to encourage people-to-people co-operation through culture, sport and
I hope that you will not forget us and will continue
in your future endeavours to support joint efforts between our two countries to
contribute to the creation of a better world. You have already left a strong foundation
from which you successor can build from and we look forward to a continuation
in the relations between our two countries.
Your Excellency, as you and
Mrs Magnacca leave South Africa, I would like to pay tribute to the personal legacy
you will leave behind; your always good-natured, impeccably professional and gracious
style of diplomacy that has made a great impression on all that you interacted
with - and will assure you a warm welcome if you wish to return in the future.
I wish you all the best in your future endeavours and trust that you and
Mrs Magnacca will have a safe trip.