Pretoria – Diplomatic pleasantries were the order of the day at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria on Tuesday as President Cyril Ramaphosa officially met 16 ambassadors and high commissioners who have recently been assigned by their countries to lead diplomatic missions based in South Africa.
At the glitzy event, the incoming top diplomats also presented to Ramaphosa the letters of recall of their predecessors who have since departed after serving at embassies and high commissions in the City of Tshwane.
First in line was the incoming Ambassador of Bulgaria to South Africa Maria Pavlova Tzotzorkova, who was accompanied by her husband, Simeon Kaymaktchieva.
“I feel extremely privileged to be representing my country Bulgaria in the beautiful and hospitable South African Republic. Our President, His Excellency Mr Rumen Radev, asked me to convey his greetings and best wishes to you as president of the country with which Bulgaria has traditionally friendly, good relations. South Africa is a country of key importance to Bulgaria,” Tzotzorkova addressed Ramaphosa.
“It’s a strategic partner for Bulgaria. We greatly appreciate the role of South Africa on the global and regional scale.”
In 2022, South Africa and Bulgaria will celebrate 30 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
Ghana’s High Commissioner to South Africa Charles Asuako Owiredu, accompanied by an official from the diplomatic mission, invited Ramaphosa on a state visit to Accra in December.
“I bring you fraternal greetings from your brother, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, who has sent me here as his envoy to further strengthen the already strong bilateral relations between our two countries. Mr President, it may interest you to know that I am the first Ghanaian envoy to present his credentials to you as president,” Owiredu told Ramaphosa.
Ambassador of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay José Luis Rivas López said the existing memorandum of understanding should enable increased trade between South Africa and Uruguay.
“I bring the greetings from the President of Uruguay Luis Lacalle Pou. Mr President, you know that Uruguay and South Africa are good friends. We have excellent bilateral relations, but there is always room to strengthen even more our bonds. For instance, we believe that working together we can increase our bilateral trade, we can find more ways of co-operation and we have an excellent tool for that which is our memorandum of understanding on the establishment of bilateral consultations signed in 2015,” he said.
Next up, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Seychelles to South Africa Claude Morel, who was accompanied by his wife, Rose Morel, interacted with Ramaphosa.
The Ambassador of Burundi Alexis Bukuru, who was accompanied by his wife, also presented his letters of credence to Ramaphosa and conveyed a greeting from Burundi’s President Évariste Ndayishimiye.
The new Ambassador of Turkey to South Africa Ayşegül Kandaş, accompanied by her daughter Gülce Aksoy, also presented her letter of credence to Ramaphosa, expressing “warm wishes” from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“I am honoured to be here and greeting you today. My president has instructed me to convey to you and the friendly people of South Africa his warmest wishes for your continued well-being, prosperity and peace. He has also instructed me to work on strengthening the relations, the ties of friendship between our two countries and to promote mutually beneficial co-operation between our countries,” she said to Ramaphosa.
Kandaş also conveyed Erdoğan’s invitation for Ramaphosa to attend a bi-national commission in Turkey.
Sierra Leone’s new High Commissioner to South Africa Adekunle Joliff Milton King extended to Ramaphosa a message of solidarity from Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, president of Sierra Leone.
Representing the UK and Northern Ireland, High Commissioner Antony John Phillipson said his nation and South Africa enjoyed “deep and enduring ties”.
“We have long-standing people-to-people links through our students, tourists, professionals and family members in both countries. The UK is the largest investor in your country and South Africa is our largest trading partner in Africa. Last year, our trade was R160 billion. Our aim is to strengthen this partnership through more trade and investment, enhancing bilateral engagement with a focus on inclusive economic growth and creating opportunities for all,” he said.
Phillipson was born in Johannesburg and has also lived in Botswana and Kenya.
Ramaphosa also received the incoming High Commissioner of Nigeria to South Africa Muhammad Haruna Manta, who was accompanied by his wife, Hauwa. The Nigerian envoy conveyed President Muhammadu Buhari’s invitation for Ramaphosa to visit Nigeria “in the next few weeks”.
The Maldives’ High Commissioner to South Africa Omar Abdul Razzak also presented his letter of credence, followed in line by the new Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to South Africa, Raymundo Antonio Garrido Lantingua. Their interactions with Ramaphosa were followed by Canada’s incoming High Commissioner to South Africa Christopher Cooter, who was accompanied by his wife, Karen Blumenschein.
Cooter thanked Ramaphosa for deploying South African firefighters to Canada to battle wildfires in the province of Manitoba.
Ramaphosa also welcomed Germany’s Ambassador to South Africa Andreas Peschke, who was accompanied by his wife, Uta; Singapore’s new High Commissioner to South Africa Zainal Arif Mantaha; incoming Ambassador of Djibouti to South Africa Yacin Elmi Bouh; and Cyprus’s High Commissioner to South Africa Antonis Mandritis.
South Africa is renowned for hosting the second largest number of diplomatic missions after the US.