Press Releases

    29 August 2002


    NEW YORK, 28 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a toast by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the State banquet hosted in his honour by His Excellency Festus G. Mogae, President of the Republic of Botswana, in Gaborone on 27 August:

    I would like to begin by thanking President Mogae, the Government and the people of Botswana for the warm and generous welcome my wife and I, and all my team have received today. We really feel we are among friends.

    It is indeed a great and singular pleasure for me to visit Botswana. Your country gives the lie to all kinds of myths about Africa. You have magnificently demonstrated that Africans can make a genuine success of democratic nation building.

    Let me express my admiration, especially, for your achievements as a multiparty democracy. Ever since independence in 1966, Botswana has maintained stability and harmony, working hard, throughout the years and despite many hardships, to uphold the principles of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights.

    It is therefore not surprising that Botswana is a valued mediator in regional conflicts, as we heard earlier. Let me acknowledge, in particular, the tireless efforts of Sir Ketumile Masire to facilitate the Inter-Congolese dialogue for an end to the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    And you have been working just as hard on the economic front. Over the last three decades, through sound management of your economy and resources, you have achieved, if I may add, constantly achieved high economic growth, increased employment, improved social structures -– in the areas of health, water, sanitation and education –- and kept inflation under control. These are major successes for a country that was once considered as one of the poorest in Africa.

    That only makes the tragedy of HIV/AIDS all the more poignant, since it is snatching away the precious development gains you had made. It seems terribly unjust that your country should be one of the most affected in Africa. Let me reaffirm the determination of the United Nations and its agencies to help you fight this scourge urgently and effectively. Be assured that I will plead your cause in order to reduce, as far as possible, the toll of human suffering, death and misery that the HIV/AIDS catastrophe is imposing on your people and on our continent.

    Of course, we will also continue to help your people work towards the accomplishment of their hopes and dreams in all the other areas where we can make a difference. And I know that I can count on you, on your side, to continue making an active contribution to the United Nations agenda for peace and development throughout the world.

    And so, Mr. President, allow me to raise my glass: to your health, to the prosperity of the people of Botswana, and to an ever-stronger partnership between this wonderful country and the United Nations.

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