Speech BY President Nelson Mandela at the State Banquet in Honour of King Juan Carlos

South African History Online

Speech BY President Nelson Mandela at the State Banquet in Honour of King
Juan Carlos

Cape Town, 15 February 1999

Your Majesty, King Juan Carlos
Your Majesty, Queen Sonia
Deputy
President Mbeki
Your excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen

Any newly married person should be forgiven for feeling a little jealous when
their spouse, within the first six months of their marriage, leaves them to
visit another place, not once but twice. I must confess that I was no exception
last year. But I felt relieved when I knew that Ms. Machel was in the
trustworthy hands of Your Majesties, the King and Queen of Spain, and especially
by the knowledge that she was being honoured with the prestigious Prince of
Asturias International Co-operation Prize.

I myself have fond memories of my own visit to Spain in 1992, to receive the
same award as an expression of Spain's commitment to co-operation with the
people of South Africa.

Today it is our privilege and honour to welcome Your Majesties to South
Africa. The time has come for us to show our gratitude and return the
hospitality that we experienced in Spain. I should add that my wife and I are
delighted that your Majesties arrived in romantic Cape Town on St Valentines
Day. We hope this city brings you the same joy as thousands other couples enjoy.

In South Africa you will find a country still in transition. This is a
process that is not unfamiliar to the people of Spain.

The affinities of Spain's experience and South Africa's, were reflected in
the joint award in 1983 to Your Majesty and myself of the International Simon
Bolivar Prize, as representatives of our two peoples. it symbolized also the
international community's commitment to justice and freedom from which both our
peoples have benefited.

That award was also a sign of the world's recognition of His Majesty's
courageous adherence to democratic principles. Your Majesty's unstinting efforts
in promoting democracy in your country and human rights around the world have
helped boost ties between South Africa and Spain.

South Africa was able to learn much from Spain's experience. And we sincerely
hope that all those involved in the Basque peace process will find encouragement
in our own humble experience that even long-standing and seemingly
insurmountable differences can be resolved through negotiation. Spain's efforts
to find peaceful solutions and eradicate violence as a means of resolving
political differences, are an example to the world.

As South Africans set about rebuilding their country; participating in the
development of Southern Africa and the rebirth of Africa; and defining our place
in the world as a developing country seeking equitable partnership with the
North, our expanding relationship with Spain is of great importance to us.

The fact that Spain is now our 12th biggest trading partner is heartening.
But it does not do justice to the potential that can be realized. The prospects
of doing so have grown with the recent declaration of Spain's commitment to
developing long term trade and investment relations in the Southern African
region.

We welcome and appreciate that commitment, as we do your country's assistance
to South Africa, in particular in education, training, transport, tourism and
culture.

Our relationship with the European Union will be strengthened when then
protracted trade talks are sealed in a formal Agreement. Like the outcome of all
negotiations, the package is a compromise for the mutual benefit of all parties,
and we hope that all EU members, including Spain, will support it as the EU's
General Affairs Council finalises the agreement.

As an African country, we value Spain's interest in contributing to the
entrenchment of peace in democracy in Africa, including through assistance to
the development of Southern Africa's peacekeeping capacity by support for
Exercise Blue Crane in April this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me to conclude by thanking Your Majesties and the Spanish people for
your continued interest in the well being of our nations. Our efforts to attain
sustainable growth and entrench democracy are strengthened by your support.

I trust that you will enjoy your visit. We have no doubt that it will further
enhance the warm and mutually beneficial relationship that already exists
between our two nations.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I ask you to join me in a toast to His Majesty, King Juan Carlos and Her
Majesty, Queen Sofia, to the people of Spain, and to friendship between our
peoples.

Issued by: Office of the Presiden

Last updated : 31-Mar-2011

This article was produced for South African History Online on 31-Mar-2011