Sunday, May 10, 2009

VP Lt.Gen. Mompati S. Merafhe,MP, at a Luncheon hosted in Honour of H.E. Mr. E.L. Hernández Vice President of the Council of State of the Rep. of Cuba

source: Republic of Botswana (9/5/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 13 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


Your Excellency, Mr. Esteban Lazo Hernandez, Vice President of the Republic of Cuba
Honourable Ministers here present
Your Excellency Mr. Jorge Luis Lopez Tormo Ambassador of Cuba and your Dear Wife
Deputy Chief of International Relations Division of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party His Excellency Mr. Oscar Martinez Cordovez
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

1. It is a great honour and pleasure for me to once again warmly welcome my dear friend and brother, His Excellency Mr. Esteban Lazo Hernández, Vice President of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba and his entire delegation to Botswana.

2. Your Excellency, though we may not have the exquisite beaches of Havana and Varadero, I am sure you will find Batswana equally warm, welcoming and vivacious. I certainly hope you and your delegation will have an enjoyable sojourn in Botswana. I am particularly pleased that you were able to visit Botswana so soon after your great country hosted yet another successful Ministerial meeting of the Non- Aligned Movement. (NAM). Clearly, the NAM membership owes your great country a debt of gratitude for your undoubted commitment and the impressive manner in which you have, as Chair, continued to steer the affairs of our Movement. I am reliably informed that the discussions were fruitful. There is no doubt that the outcome will contribute immensely to our common global agenda of advancing of peace, stability, and development for all humankind.

3. Your Excellency and Dear Friend, your presence here today marks not just another significant milestone in the long history of our excellent and fruitful relations. It is also a clear testimony of our joint commitment to this kinship which is buttressed by solidarity, mutual respect, common understanding and strong collaboration. Our two countries and peoples continue to enjoy cordial and mutually beneficial collaboration in a wide spectrum of human development activities. Together, we continue with efforts to build bridges between our two nations in a variety of sectors, ranging from health to education, science, sports, and the arts.

4. Thanks to the concerted efforts of generations of leaders and people of our countries, we have made some historic achievements in growing these relations. It has been 6 months since we last took stock of the status of our collaborative efforts and defined new parameters for cooperation at the Tenth Session of our bilateral Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation, held in Gaborone, in October last year.

5. Your Excellency Vice President Lazo, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, although the Republic of Botswana is satisfied with the progress achieved so far in our collaboration with the Republic Cuba, we are convinced that more can still be done to enhance our bilateral cooperation. As you will be aware, HIV/Aids remains the single greatest challenge Botswana faces today. Thanks to the unwavering support, steely commitment and professionalism of the Cuban health personnel in Botswana, we are beginning to register some progress in joint effort to combat this scourge.

6. Moreover, in keeping with the selfless and generous spirit of your Government and people, Cuba continues to open doors of its institutions of high learning to our young people. This support which has enabled us to benchmark with your best practices pertaining to various aspects of development is contributing immensely to our human resource development efforts. Thanks to Cuban support, my country today boasts a good number of highly qualified Spanish speaking Batswana professionals and many more remain in your outstanding institutions of learning.

7. We applaud the Republic Cuba and its people for the laudable and enduring commitment to serve humanity, which has been underscored by its assistance programme to developing countries like Botswana. This is in spite of the daunting economic and political circumstances that your country has had to contend with over the years. We are inspired by this commitment to serve which we believe is a necessary ingredient for fostering genuine peace, and understanding for the rest of the world.

8. Your Excellency, a number of high level exchange visits between our countries has taken place in recent years. I too have had the privilege of leading a number of delegations to your beautiful country. I want to stress that these exchanges have contributed in no small measure towards cementing our bilateral relations. I am confident that your visit will add a very significant momentum to on-going efforts to deliver on our common agenda. We must remain steadfast in our continuing search for innovative ways to strengthen collaboration between our two countries.

9. Mr. Vice President, the Republic of Botswana continues to observe with keen interest the positive developments unfolding with regard to Cuba/USA relations. As I pointed out at our bilateral discussions earlier today, our Government wishes to put on record its full support for the continued dialogue between Cuba and the United States. It is our hope that this process of engagement will lead to the total lifting of the embargo against Cuba. As much as the lifting of this embargo will benefit both the United States and Cuba, it will also benefit our country, particularly because we count among our most enduring friends these two countries.

10. Over the years, the Republic of Cuba has been one of the leading nations in human development. It must therefore assume its rightful place among the community of nations in pursuit of our common agenda for peace and development.

11. In conclusion, allow me to take this opportunity to once again express to you and through you to the Government and people of your great country, our sincere gratitude and appreciation for your country’s generous support for our development efforts over the years. We shall forever remain indebted to you for this. I wish you a safe journey back home and please do convey our fraternal greetings to the beautiful people of Cuba! May I now ask you to join me in drinking a toast to:

• The continued good health of His Excellency President Raul Castro Ruz;
• Continued friendship and cooperation between the Republic of Botswana and Cuba; and
• International peace and security, PULA!!I thank you.

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