State Visit of the President of the Republic of Mozambique,
Armando Emilio Guebuza
Tánaiste’s Speech – State Lunch, 4 June 2014
Your Excellency, Esteemed members of the Government of the Republic of Mozambique, Colleagues and honoured guests.
We are gathered here in Iveagh House in honour of the State visit to Ireland of the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza. Your Excellency, on behalf of the Government of Ireland, a wholehearted welcome to you and all your delegation. Fáilte róimh go léir.
For me personally it is a real joy to welcome you here. Just ten years ago, I visited Mozambique, to observe your elections. I saw the enthusiasm of the Mozambican people in exercising their franchise and building up their country. And I experienced the richness of your culture, and the beauty of your country. Mr President, I hope that during your short stay here, we can reciprocate and you can enjoy some of the richness of our land and our culture.
I am deeply grateful to you for making the time to come to Ireland in this demanding year of elections in Mozambique.
Your visit marks a maturing of our relations. Our two countries share a friendship born in relatively recent times. Our friendship is not complicated by the burden of history. It is strengthened by our people’s similar experiences: of colonialism, of hunger, of struggles for independence. And the experience of building the institutions of a new state.
Ireland and Mozambique have been working together on development for 20 years. After 1992, we recognised the scale of the challenges you faced in rebuilding your country following years of devastating conflict. We opened an Irish Office in Maputo, now a full Embassy, in 1996. We have worked with government at the national level and at the provincial level, and with Mozambican organisations and Mozambican communities.
We have built strong relationships based on friendship and solidarity. Together with a special partnership with the Clinton Foundation in the health sector, we have built up an engagement in Mozambique, which is now the most significant of Ireland's development partners. We have been privileged to work with your Health Ministry in the fight against the scourge of HIV and AIDS. We are proud that in 2014 Ireland will represent all development partners in the health sector in Mozambique in our role as focal partner. Minister Manguele's presence here, and your visit with him to one of our most important hospitals are testament to the importance of our partnership in health.
Mr President, you come here at a time of unprecedented optimism for Mozambique. You have built solid state institutions, reaching down to the district level. Health and education outcomes are improving. Life expectancy is increasing. There is huge potential in agriculture and natural resources. This is important for you and your people. For us, it allows us to demonstrate that our contribution to your development, our partnership with you, is achieving real results for your people and your country.
Ireland has been proud to be a friend and a partner over the past 20 years. We look forward to continuing with you as you respond to the new challenges of the next phase in your country's development.
Our engagement with Mozambique is in our own interest also. Because we share a common humanity. But also because a healthy Mozambique, with a strong economy and a good workforce, is good for Ireland. Already, Irish companies such as Kenmare Resources and Kentz are significant investors and employers in your country. Over 6,000 Mozambicans are employed by Irish companies. Indeed, Kentz this week opened a new country office in Maputo. I hope that the significant business delegation accompanying you in Ireland will lead to new opportunities and new trade and investment relationships.
The path to economic development is through jobs, underpinned by an education system which delivers people ready to take advantage of economic opportunities available. We know this from our own national experience in fighting poverty and underdevelopment. You will see and hear this yourself when you visit the Dublin Institute of Technology and the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology.
The creation of economic opportunities, supported by a strong education system, is a core objective of our development cooperation in Mozambique. It is also what our businesspeople are looking for. That Kenmare Resources had a person on the board of one your country’s leading universities, is a testament to this vital link. Last year, following Minister Inroga's visit to Ireland, we were pleased to host a number of Mozambican delegations to observe our experience of building links between education, industry and small business development. We are ready to continue this work.
An interesting recent innovation in our relationship has been that between the Certified Public Accountants of Ireland and their Mozambican counterparts, supporting the development of the accountancy profession in Mozambique. Our relationship is not only with private sector accountants but also with your Supreme Audit Institution, the Tribunal Administrativo, which our Public Accounts Committee visited in December 2012.
Mr. President, the role of agriculture has been central in Ireland’s modern economic development. We were a poor nation of small scale farmers, with much of our potential added value exported for others to exploit. Building on farmers’ cooperatives, we focused on technology and skills development, and gradually built one of Europe's most important food exporting nations. Because of our climate, we have a natural advantage in beef and dairy. In Mozambique you can find our butter, our cream, and our ingredients in many products that do not originate in Ireland.
I am told that Minister Pacheco is an expert in beef and cattle. During this visit we would pleased to learn from him and from his experience how we might further improve the quality of our national herd!
The potato has been is at the heart of Ireland’s modern history. The failure of the potato crop in the 1840s was the cause of the famine which saw 4 million people, half the population of this island, die or emigrate in less than a decade. The effects of that shock mark Irish society even today. Nonetheless, the potato remains a staple in our diet. We have a scientific cooperation with a number of African countries, including Mozambique, looking at improving potato yields under different conditions. And during this visit we will sign a number of agreements intended to expand our scientific and practical cooperation in agriculture, as well as enable agribusiness from both our countries to get to know each other better.
The areas of friendship, cooperation and future ties which I have outlined are strengthened by our mutual political understanding. The rhythm of our contacts has been increasing since President McAleese's visit to Mozambique in 2006. There have been a number of Ministerial visits in both directions in recent years. Our parliaments are working together. And we have had high level contacts in international forums, in Addis Ababa, in Brussels, and in Busan. Most recently, in April, Minister Costello and Minister Banze co-hosted an important meeting on aid effectiveness in Mozambique at a major conference in Mexico.
During Ireland's EU presidency last year, which coincided with Mozambique's successful Presidency of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), we worked together to successfully relaunch the SADC-EU political dialogue.
For our part, Ireland has a strong interest in a peaceful, strong and successful Southern Africa. Historically, we strongly supported the Frontline States. We now have an extensive network of Embassies across the region. And, through our new Africa Strategy, and our development policy, we are building modern economic, development and political relationships.
We look forward to continuing our dialogue with you on regional issues. The Great Lakes initiative which began under your SADC presidency is important to us all. As you know, a former Irish President, Mary Robinson, is the UN Secretary General's special envoy to the Great Lakes, charged with taking forward the opportunity which opened last year. We have been privileged to support her in this role.
We are determined to build further, to identify areas of mutual cooperation in international forums, and to understand better the dynamic changes which are taking place in your country. During your visit I hope that we can identify mechanisms to sustain and build on our already deep friendship.
There is much more I could say about our relationship. But we are here to enjoy lunch. I look forward to our conversation as we enjoy a meal based on Irish agricultural produce.
Let me invite you now to raise a glass:
- to the enduring warm friendship between our peoples
- to the good health of our good friend, the President of the Republic of Mozambique, Armando Emilio Guebuza
- and to all those here present.