2004-02-07

H.M. Konungens tal vid statsbanketten i Brunei Darussalam

Your Majesties,

Your Royal Highnesses,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentleman,

I am pleased to be back in Brunei Darussalam, this time on a State Visit. I was here briefly last year, but for the Queen this is the first visit. I would like to express our sincere gratitude for the invitation and for the very warm welcome that we received upon arrival today. Now we much look forward to the following two days, with an exciting and varied program. It will take us to see different parts of your society, which is not very well known in my country.

Sweden and Brunei have had diplomatic relations only since 1984, the year when Brunei attained full independence. I know that your country ever since has aimed at building friendly relations not only with my country but with many other nations as well. Another evidence of that is Brunei's engagement in a number of international organizations, among others the UN, WTO and ASEAN.

Brunei has been blessed with large natural resources but also with competent and creative people who have quickly responded to new trends in the world economy, science and other fields. I know that the country now is trying to find ways to diversify its economy, to prepare itself for the day when oil and gas may no longer be the main source of income. This is where Sweden hopes to be able to assist.

Sweden's economy has been re-structured during the past decades. In the old times, it was based more or less exclusively on iron ore and timber. Today the high tech industry and IT are new branches of comparative strength. We are proud to be the home of some of the world's leading industrial companies, positions they have reached by continuous change and adaptation, all necessary for economic development and for our industry to remain successful and competitive on the constantly growing markets.

During the next few days, there will be many opportunities to exchange views and experiences on these matters as well as on many other important issues, not least those related to sustainable development.  The protection of the environment is essential to sustainability. It is really one of the pre-requisites for the future of the well-being of all mankind, along with other basic values like democracy, good governance and human rights. All these are essential elements in the development of a nation and it's building of a strategy for meeting the challenges of today's globalized world.

I am happy to note that environmental issues seem to be high on the agenda in Brunei, a nation that is the home of an important part of the world's remaining rain forests, with a rich diversity of animals and plants. The protection of the environment is close to the hearts of most Swedes not least to my own. This is why the Queen and I are very much looking forward to our excursion tomorrow to the rain forest and the Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre. Research on biological diversity might be an area for a possible cooperation between experts in our two countries.

A number of Swedish business representatives have come to Brunei on this occasion. I am grateful to see so many of them being invited here tonight.  They will be engaged in seminars and meetings with senior officials in your government and with their business counterparts.

The scope for increased trade and investments ought to be large between our two countries and the interest shown so far from both sides is promising, indeed. I sincerely hope that one of the results of this State Visit will be a growing commercial cooperation between our two nations in the future.

Brunei, so well located along major trading routes, has a history as a trading nation, dating back more than a thousand years when Brunei was a centre for trade that involved distant partners like China, India and the Arab world.  It is interesting to note that at the same time as our Vikings sailed down the Russian rivers as far as to the Byzantine Empire and the Caliphate where they exchanged their goods for more exotic products from the East.

Both our nations have a tradition in trading and peaceful relations with others. Today when the world is less secure than it used to be and we are forced to see a number of new threats to humanity, all nations must work together in search of the right way to freedom and peace.

May I conclude by once again expressing our gratitude for this invitation to Brunei. Our two countries are indeed geographically distant from each other and our relations may not yet be extensive, but my sincere hope is that this visit will contribute in a constructive manner to future cooperation on the bilateral as well as multilateral levels.

Your Majesties, I wish you as well as all your family good health. May your beautiful country and its warm and friendly people live in peace and prosperity.

Thank you very much.