Your Royal Highnesses, It is with great pleasure we welcome Your Majesties to Sweden, on the very first State Visit from Malaysia, a country with which we have warm and friendly relations. The Queen and I, as well as Prince Carl Philip, our son, have fond memories of our own State Visit to Malaysia in 1996. It took us to Kuala Lumpur, the buzzling and exciting capital, as well as to Borneo where we lost our hearts in the rain forests of Sabah. The rare orang-utans as well as your beautiful orchids still remain very vividly in our memories. We were impressed by a nation of great beauty, rich culture and dynamic development, where we were generously received.
There are many reasons for Malaysia and Sweden to continue to develop closer ties. We have a mutual interest in an increasing exchange of knowledge, goods and people. Our Prime Ministers have recently met as well as our Foreign Ministers. We cooperate in international fora, which we highly value as well.
Malaysia is already one of Sweden´s main trading partners in South East Asia. But much more can be done. Around 90 Swedish companies are currently operating in Malaysia. They represent solid Swedish engineering and design traditions and many of them are well known names in both Malaysia and Sweden. I hope that our two countries will continue to share experiences in the future and also cooperate in new fields such as IT, biotechnology, environment, healthcare, communications and road safety. Also in the area of education, research and culture we could develop closer relations. The foundations have been laid and the interest is increasing. Ties have been established between Karolinska Institutet and Malaysian medical researchers, as well as between the University of Göteborg and, among others, the University of Malaysia. Last year the Nobel Foundation presented the Nobel Centennial Exhibition in Malaysia in collaboration with the Malaysian Academy of Sciences. It centred on the theme of creativity and how to enhance it. Close to 300.000 visitors saw the Exhibition and participated in the activities around it.
The interest for Malaysia in Sweden is definitely growing. Your beautiful nature, warm climate and exciting culture are attracting more and more Swedish tourists. Already during the first five months of this year more than 18.000 Swedes visited Malaysia. The newly established direct flights between our two countries will hopefully also encourage more Malaysians to follow in the footsteps of Your Majesties, and visit Sweden. During your stay in Sweden Your Majesties have the opportunity to see the central parts of our wonderful capital. You have visited the Riksdag, the seat of our parliament and tomorrow's program will take you to Mariefred and the medieval Castle of Gripsholm, on the shores of Lake Mälaren. This Royal castle is the home of a unique collection of furniture and art from four hundred years up to the present.
Moving from the old to the new, tomorrow afternoon will include a visit to Kista Science City, a Nordic Silicon Valley. Many leading ICT companies have come together to form one of the world´s major high-tech clusters. Kista is a natural location of Ericsson for example. Your Majesties will have the chance to see another great part of Sweden as well as the West Coast and Göteborg.
I am particularly pleased that You will spend some time onboard the sailing vessel “Götheborg", a project which is very close to my heart. “Götheborg" has great plans to sail to the port of Canton just as the original ship was doing in the 18th century. On its way back she hopes to be able to land in Malaysia as well.
The Queen and I sincerely hope that You when you leave our country on Friday will have had a most memorable stay, an appetizer that will make you wish to come back. I believe that the relations between our two countries will continue to develop in the years to come. I am confident that this State Visit will contribute to this process in a favourable way. And now, to Your Majesties and Royal Highnesses as well as to the friendship between Malaysia and Sweden I propose that we all join in a toast.
Skål! Thank you.