Nelson Mandela’s wish for friendship and co-operation with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) came to fruition when the country signed the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (TAC).
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor represented South Africa during a virtual signing ceremony on Tuesday.
Asean is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political and security co-operation among its 10-member countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The accession of South Africa, which has diplomatic and economic relations with individual Asean members, will formalise its relationship with Asean as a bloc.
During her address at the Taj Hotel in the city centre, Pandor said yesterday marked the beginning of a journey of friendship and co-operation between South Africa and Asean.
“We believe Africa will play an absolutely premier role through enhancing its operationalisation of African Continental Free Trade Agreement, and through ensuring Asean becomes part of practical steps towards realising the continental ambition of that agreement,” she said.
On behalf of the government and its people, Pandor expressed gratitude to all the foreign ministers of Asean member states for the support and consideration given to South Africa’s request to accede to the TAC in Asean.
Pandor said they were committed as countries and as a region to the advancement of democracy for the pursuit and support of multilateralism in the search for solutions by mutual co-operation.
“We believe it is through such endeavour that we will be able to address the significant challenges posed to our countries by this terrible Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.