President Ramaphosa calls for international peace

Friday 20 October 2023

President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated the South African government’s calls for an immediate end to “hostilities” not only between Israel and Palestine but also in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The President was speaking during Official Talks with the Kingdom of Netherlands King Willem-Alexander on the occasion of that country’s State Visit.

“We are meeting at a time when our resolve to build a peaceful, equal future is being sorely tested, and where reconciliation and healing is most sorely needed.

“The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the devastating events unfolding in Israel and Palestine have left many of us saddened. They have left us fearful for the future of international cooperation and for our common aspiration to realise a world free of conflict.

“As South Africa we have reiterated that there should be an immediate cessation of hostilities between the warring parties, that the tenets of international law should be upheld, and that the international community has a responsibility to help bring about favourable conditions for negotiation and dialogue,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said South Africa’s painful history and now democratic present is proof that peace – in a time of great conflict – can be achieved.

“As a country that chose the path of reconciliation over conflict, and peace over war, we believe it is indeed possible for adversaries, even those that share bitter histories, to come together for the sake of peace. We believe change can never come too late, and that it is indeed possible.

“The relationship between our two countries is testament to this. The Netherlands is a former colonial power but is now supporting development and economic growth across the developing world, including in former Dutch colonies,” the President said.

Bilateral relations

President Ramaphosa praised the relationship between South Africa and the Netherlands – highlighting in particular the Netherlands’ place as a major investor into the country.

South Africa, in turn, is a leading destination for tourists from the European country.

The President said this relationship is one from which South Africa derives “great benefit”.

“Our bilateral relationship spans agriculture, education and skills development, transport and logistics, science and innovation, water management and a number of other areas.

“Our energy cooperation is increasing, notably in the fields of green hydrogen and renewable energy,” he said.

The President said South Africa looks forward to “expanding the horizons of this relationship well into the future”.

“Ours is a strategic partnership and we can be proud of it. It has evolved, matured and I see it growing exponentially in the next coming years. May our shared values and common commitment to development guide us as we write what I would believe is a new history and a new chapter in our relations,” he said.

Historical ties

President Ramaphosa reflected on the history between the two countries which began with the arrival of Dutch settlers in the Cape in 1652.

He said traces of Dutch culture can still be found in South African society.

“More than 200 years since the Dutch ceded sovereignty of the Cape, there are a number of Dutch influences that still play an important part in the cultural and linguistic life of many South African communities.

“The Afrikaans language has much of its origins in Dutch and is the third most widely spoken national language of South Africa. Our country’s Muslim community can trace its origins to the arrival in 1658 of free labourers and political exiles from the-then Dutch East Indies. There are distinct Dutch influences in the cuisine and customs of our country,” he said.

The President emphasised that despite this colonial past, the strong bilateral relations between the two countries “reflect a commitment to acknowledge and confront the injustices of our past”.

“We are determined to forge a new path for our respective countries based on shared values, and a common commitment to human rights, equality, development and prosperity for all.

“We are determined to build the bridges of tolerance and understanding in pursuit of a better future and better world.

“In this regard, Your Majesty, I wish to acknowledge the apology that you have made for your country’s role in the slave trade, including in South Africa. This was an important step towards promoting reconciliation, restoration and healing old wounds,” President Ramaphosa said.

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