Kungl. Slottet, Stockholm
(Det talade ordet gäller)
Mr President, Mrs Mogae,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to welcome you, and your delegation to the Royal Palace in Stockholm and to Sweden, on the very first State Visit from the Republic of Botswana, a country with which we have warm and friendly relations.
The Queen and I have special and fond memories of Botswana. Thirty years ago we spent parts of our honey moon in your beautiful country. The experience of visiting Botswana and its unspoilt nature and spectacular wildlife, under such special circumstances, have been a source of joy and inspiration ever since. Chobe National Park made a particularly deep impression. Despite the chilly season and different aim of your visit, I hope that you will feel as welcome in Sweden this time as we did in Botswana thirty years ago. We have done our best in planning your programme here and are opening our doors with warmth and Swedish generosity at the Royal Palace and elsewhere.
Botswana and Sweden have a long and close partnership in many areas. We share a number of basic values, such as peace and security for everyone, good governance and the rule of law, the need to strengthen the democratic processes and the respect for human rights, the care for the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Your country is duly praised, not just in Africa, but throughout the world for its progress in development, economic growth and stability. Botswana has made valuable contributions to world peace, especially in some of the conflict areas on the African continent. Your country also plays an active role in international organizations, for example in IDEA, which is working to support sustainable democracy worldwide, and which is a participant in the seminar in the Parliament House where you will speak.
Mr President, you and other African leaders, have a major leadership role, promoting peace and development, across the African continent. The New Partnership for Africa's Development is an excellent example of Africa´s determination to take the responsibility for Africa by itself, as well as for the global community as a whole. The Swedish Government welcomes and supports the African Union's efforts to strengthen its conflict prevention and management capacities. Sub-regional organizations such as The Southern African Development Community and The Economic Community of West African States have an important role to play in implementing the NEPAD vision.
Regional co-operation is fundamental in contributing to political stability and economic development. Sweden supports Botswana's endeavours in this regard. SADC, which Botswana currently is chairing, plays a vital role in many areas such as trade, conflict prevention, poverty eradication and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Guiding SADC, in advancing the regional agenda, is a challenge. Sweden will remain an active partner in promoting these efforts.
Over the years, our two countries have worked together in a wide range of activities, from resistance to the apartheid system in South Africa to economic and technical development cooperation in Botswana and the region. This has resulted in numerous lasting contacts between the people of Botswana and Sweden. Even so, there is a wide range of further opportunities for enhancing our contacts at many levels - between our governments, our institutions and, not least, between our private sectors.
Mr President, inspired by your personal leadership Sweden will continue to work together with your Government on prevention, treatment and care in fighting HIV/AIDS. We sincerely hope that Sweden´s new contributions to the fight against HIV/AIDS, which is channelled through the UN system as well as bilateral channels, will make a difference for the vital process of coming to grips with this terrible decease with its devastating impact on families and societies worldwide.
Our countries are also partners in other areas of development cooperation. The Swedish Radio and TV are working together with their counterparts in Botswana in an important capacity-building project for independent public service broadcasting.
Mr President, during your stay in Sweden you will have the opportunity to get to know the work of some Swedish companies active in areas of interest to you. We hope that the opportunities that exist for a greater exchange of trade and investment between our countries will be highlighted and reinforced during this State Visit. The creation of a common market for the fourteen member states of SADC, and Botswana´s central position in such a market, could pave the way for your country to become an important commercial hub in the region.
I sincerely hope that you will all have a most memorable stay in our country. Although I know that you have had many contacts with Sweden and Swedes in the past, I am sure you will discover new facets at the same time as you recognise the hospitality and friendship that have existed between our two countries for a long time.
I am confident that your State Visit to Sweden will contribute to the further development of our relations as well as to sending a message of hope for the future. The encouraging story of Botswana´s democratic and economic progress, as well as its future potential, deserves to be told not only in Sweden, but all over the world.
Mr President, to you and your family, to your country and its people as well as to the friendship between Botswana and Sweden I now suggest we all join in a toast.
Skål! Thank you.