Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first say how happy I am to be back in Botswana. As newly-weds in 1976, almost 35 years ago now, we discovered the beauty of your country and the warmth of its people.
Relations between Sweden and Botswana go back a long way. More than 150 years ago, Swedish adventurer and businessman Charles John Andersson came to today's Botswana. He was the first European to reach Lake Ngami from the west coast in 1853, and the first Swedish citizen to visit your country.
A "modern-day" Andersson was Gus Nilsson, who sadly passed away only a few weeks ago. His nursery enterprise — Sanitas — is a landmark in Gaborone today. It is an excellent example of how a meeting between our countries can bear fruit. The work and legacy of Doctor Nilsson will stretch far beyond the borders of our two countries.
When Botswana gained its independence in 1966, it was one of the poorest countries in the world. But it found its wealth in a peaceful transition and a unique democratic tradition.
The first President, your father, the late Sir Seretse Khama, focused his leadership on the broader issues affecting the people. Helped by the discovery of diamonds, Botswana's advancement came quickly.
The fact that the people of Botswana could express their will through regular, free and fair elections played an important role in this respect. It also contributed to Botswana becoming the respected member of the international community that it is today (45 years later).
We are pleased to have a presence in Gaborone through Sweden House. The Swedish Trade Council and Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, promote trade, investments and other partnerships between a range of actors. I am pleased to see that there are many new ways to further and deepen our relations.
With this State Visit, we would like to celebrate our strong relations. It is also an occasion to reciprocate the memorable visit to Sweden in 2006 by your predecessor, President Festus Mogae. I am looking forward to seeing many sectors of your society.
We have brought with us a large and diverse business delegation that represents all that Swedish companies can offer in terms of proven technologies, products and services in a wide range of sectors. Botswana enjoys a reputation as a well-run and efficient economy, which is attractive to Swedish businesses.
I sincerely hope that many new business opportunities will develop in the days and years to come.
A global challenge, shared by Botswana but also a challenge facing Sweden, is the spread of HIV and AIDS. You were hit early by this pandemic, but under the leadership of your predecessors, your country quickly adopted a policy that both recognised and allocated resources to address the challenge. You set an example that you can be proud of. I am pleased to note that today, half of Sweden's development cooperation support to Botswana is dedicated to combating HIV and AIDS.
Another successful example of our development cooperation, where Swedish experience and knowledge has supported you, is in the development of your Disaster Management Programme. Botswana also feels the impact of global warming. Risk reduction and disaster management play an ever increasing role in preventing and minimising the devastating impact of natural disasters. The recent developments in Japan have shown how fragile mankind is to the forces of nature and underlines the importance of a well-planned and functional disaster management.
Your country is so beautiful with a unique fauna and flora. I know you have a keen interest in nature and wildlife. And this is an interest that I share.
Charles John Andersson gave us our first map of Botswana, with handwritten notes explaining his relations with the local population. We have good reason to believe that this is one of the first maps to be drawn by a foreigner showing the features of your country and Victoria Falls before they were made known to Europe by Dr Livingstone.
It was a pleasure to present you with a full-scale copy of this map earlier today. The original is preserved in the archives of The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It was recently re-discovered, after having been in the archives for 158 years, by Professor Karl Grandin and Mr Christer Blomstrand, long-standing friends of Botswana.
Let me conclude, Mr President,
Botswana is well known to many Swedes, not least for its commitment to peace and democracy, its diamonds, its natural beauty — and a certain female detective. It is my strong conviction that this visit will play an important role in strengthening the ties between the people of Botswana and the people of Sweden.
Let me once again express our appreciation for the warm and deep relationship between our countries and Sweden's strong desire to develop it further. To its continued prosperity and your personal health, may I propose a toast to this relationship;
Let Sweden meet Botswana, and Botswana meet Sweden.