Your Excellency, Kanat Tumysh, Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan;

Ambassadors and High Commissioners;

Members of the Diplomatic Community;

Distinguished Guests;

The Community of Al-Ghazali College;

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good day to you all!

Thank you for bestowing upon me the honour to grace this occasion of important cultural and historic significance.

I wish to congratulate all the award winners on work well done and have no doubt that your knowledge base has been broadened and deepened as you got to know the valued works of Abu Nasr Al-Farabi as well as his considerable contribution  to science, philosophy, logic, sociology, medicine, mathematics and music.

I encourage the winners (and all participants to this competition) of the award to continue to read more about this icon of all time, Abu Nasr Al Farabi. Reading in general enlarges one’s knowledge but internalizing what this great  philosopher stood for will go a long way in your career choices.  As you have come to appreciate, his contribution to the body of knowledge covers a multiplicity of disciplines.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentleman,

I also wish to take this opportunity on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, to extend to the Government and people of the Republic of Kazakhstan, our congratulations and best wishes on the 29th Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Under normal circumstances this day would have been celebrated on 1 December. We look forward to the 2021 celebrations that will mark three decades of independence.

South Africa attaches great importance to its relationship with Kazakhstan which is underscored by strong bonds of solidarity, friendship and mutual understanding. We regard Kazakhstan, the regional leader in Central Asia, as an important partner. Our countries share many commonalities, including our histories, shared values and comparable views on the current global political and economic architecture, which have shaped our relationship into the strategic partnership that it is today.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentleman,

I am pleased to note that our relations have grown from strength to strength since establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1992. To consolidate our bilateral relations, our countries have signed a Protocol on Bilateral Political Consultations on 22 July 1997; this forum has become the foremost mechanism through which we continue to expand and deepen our relations. I am most encouraged to note that our two Governments have so far convened a successful six rounds of Bilateral Political Consultations during which we agreed to work towards closer cooperation in the fields of mining, agriculture, energy and education. We are currently exploring the possibility to establish partnerships between South African and Kazakh Institutions of Higher Learning. Such bilateral cooperation allows for expanded socio-economic cooperation resulting in mutual benefits for both our countries and people.

Notwithstanding the great strides that have been made, we are convinced that the future South Africa-Kazakhstan relationship will be even more dynamic, particularly the economic component of our relationship, which shows great potential for further expansion. While I am pleased to note that in 2019 the total bilateral trade between our countries amounted to R 536 940 304, I encourage the two countries to work towards increasing this figure.

Whilst South African exports to Kazakhstan have primarily been machinery; vehicles, aircraft and vessels; and chemicals, Kazakhstan’s exports to South Africa include minerals; iron steel products; and plastics and rubber. Both  countries are committed to increasing and diversifying the trade basket to include more commodities.

As such, we look forward to the 7th round of Political Consultations which we anticipate to convene next year on your home soil. I also trust that  this session will deliberate on the matters I have stated.

We further look forward to the exchange of more high-level visits between our two countries as these will contribute to closer government-to-government engagements and cooperation, as well as to specifically stimulate interaction between our respective business communities in the promotion of our trade and investment relations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Further to the fostering of closer ties, we are presented with a wonderful opportunity for socio/cultural cooperation through not only this event but also the current initiative being pursued by both our countries to honour the legacies of our national heroes who have left their indelible mark on the social and political landscape in our countries.

The initiative aimed at the renaming of a street in Kazakhstan after President Nelson Mandela and the renaming of a Street, here in Erasmia after the respected and revered Medieval Scientist and Philosopher, Abu Nasr Al Farabi whom we  honour here today through the Awards Ceremony and Book Launch is befitting. We remain hopeful that processes toward achieving this initiative will be concluded speedily in South Africa.

These icons although many centuries separate them, share an important commonality and that is the value placed on humanity and working for a better or “perfect state” for countries for the benefit of the people.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, on behalf of the Government and the People of the Republic of South Africa, I would like to convey to you, Your Excellency, as well as to the Government and the People of the Republic of Kazakhstan, our best wishes for the continued prosperity of your country, and may the relations between our two countries continue to grow from strength to strength.

I thank you.