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02-07-2019 12:38

The Acting President of the Republic received the credentials of the Ambassador of South Africa

The Acting President of the Republic, President of the House of Representatives, Mr Demetris Syllouris, received the credentials of the Ambassador of South Africa, stationed in Athens, Ms Beryl Rose Sisulu, during a formal ceremony held at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, July 2, 2019.

Presenting her credentials, Ambassador Sisulu, speaking in English, said:

“Your Excellency, President Nicos Anastasiades,

Today, I have the honour to present to Your Excellency the Letter of Credence wherein H.E. President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa appoints me as Non­Resident High Commissioner, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa to Cyprus.

Firstly, please allow me to take this opportunity to convey to Your Excellency the cordial greetings of H.E. President Ramaphosa and extend, on behalf of the South African Government and people, best wishes to the Government and people of Cyprus.

Your Excellency, this year South Africa has entered into the twenty-fifth year of enjoying civil liberties since the dawn of democracy in 1994, and yet it is almost impossible to talk about South Africa without referring to its tumultuous journey and complex history. Our history remains alive because we, among other things, remind ourselves of the contribution made by the Cypriot community in South Africa. As part of the international community, Cyprus supported the people of South Africa during the struggle for liberation, and for that we are truly grateful.

As reflected in Nelson Mandela's book, a "Long Walk to Freedom", we are steadily building a country and have put behind us the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence. South Africa has built a vibrant, fully functional constitutional democracy that has among other things, enabled us to become active global citizens.

Our economy has however, in the past decade not been performing too well, and has therefore, not been able to create sufficient jobs to absorb our high number of graduates. We however, have a sound fiscal policy that has supported the high level of expenditure on social services and capital infrastructure. President Cyril Rarnaphosa has from the beginning of 2018, when he came into office, been trying to reverse the tide of unemployment. During his inauguration speech on 25 May 2019, he assured the international community and potential investors that "South Africa is on a path of growth and renewal, as the country strengthens partnerships and collaboration domestically and internationally, for inclusive economic growth and development".

South Africa and Cyprus enjoy healthy bilateral relations that were established on 1O December 1993. The two countries had two high level visits between 2017 and 2019. South Africa's Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande visited Cyprus in September 2017 and held bilateral talks with his counterpart, Dr Professor Costas Kadis. During this visit, Minister Nzimande visited universities in Nicosia and Limassol and possible areas of cooperation and partnership were discussed. Dr Nzimande extended an invitation to his counterpart and to the academic staff of two major universities including the Institutes of Neurology and Management Studies.

In March this year your current Minister of Education and Culture, Mr Kostas Champiaouris visited South Africa, and during this visit a draft MoU on education was adopted with the intention of finalizing it in the not so distant future. The Cypriot Minister also offered scholarships to South Africans who would like to pursue their studies in Cyprus; we eagerly await the finalization and the determining of the fields of study.

In June this year, the Government of Cyprus appointed Mr Costas Papademas as the new High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus to South Africa.

South Africa has appointed Mr John George Mavrokordatos as its Honorary Consul of the Republic of South Africa in Nicosia, with the whole of the Republic of Cyprus as his consular jurisdiction.

Currently, economic relations between South Africa and Cyprus remain relatively low for both countries. With the appointment of the Honorary Consul, South Africa hopes to improve trade and economic activities of Cyprus.

Coming to the "Question of Cyprus", Cyprus is a sovereign state and is recognized internationally. South Africa is seized with developments regarding the peace talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus. We support and respect the negotiations that are currently being held within the framework laid down by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. South Africa is cognisant of the complexities and fundamental differences that exist between the two communities. We are, however, hopeful and see the process as promising.

We believe that the issues should be dealt with between the two communities with no external interference, except for the United Nations that has laid down a framework within which negotiations can be conducted.

South Africa honours the support that the Government of Cyprus has demonstrated on multilateral issues, the most recent being the support you have given on the Candidature of Advocate Pansy Tlakula to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) for the term 2020-2023.

Your Excellency, South Africa wishes to assure the Republic of Cyprus of equal future support on multilateral issues.

Your Excellency, Mr President, I am deeply humbled and honoured to be appointed as High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa to Cyprus and am fully aware of my responsibilities. During my tenure of office, I will exert my efforts to expand our mutually beneficial cooperation, and strive to deepen relations between the governments and people of both our countries.

In executing my duties, I will also rely on the cooperation and support of Your Excellency, your Government and the people of Cyprus.

May Your Excellency enjoy good health! I thank you.”