EU Ambassador to South Africa Marcus Cornaro addressing delegates at the marking of Europe Day 2019 in Pretoria. PHOTO: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA.

PRETORIA - Numerous diplomats accredited to Pretoria, government officials and some members of civic society packed the Blue Crane Restaurant in Pretoria on Monday for a joyous reception marking Europe Day 2019.

After the recital of the European Union and the South African anthems, EU Ambassador to South Africa Marcus Cornaro told the delegates that his bloc had been convinced by the levels of credibility in the recent sixth general elections held across South Africa.

"Europe remains home to the most equal societies and at the same time the biggest tech and biggest climate change companies. In today's world, it is the reference point for all those, this includes South Africa, who champion a rule-based international order," said Cornaro.

"At the same time, it [the Europe Day held in Romania earlier this month] was a rallying call for the upcoming elections for a new European Parliament to be held from May 23rd to the 26th. Not like here in SA, this election is seen as a watershed referendum on the future of Europe. We can of course only dream of participation rates SA witnessed in its recent elections. From the impressive work done by the IEC to run such credible elections - we borrowed the "Xse campaign" and we say "this time I vote"."

Cornaro said he hopes the upcoming EU elections will prove that the Bloc has moved "from what was often perceived as a boring elitist club to an entity which resonates with its people".

In an apparent reference to United Kingdom's Brexit, Cornaro added: "But even if it's boring, those who follow European politics will have noticed that it happens that those who say goodbye to a boring party still find it difficult to leave. I, therefore, welcome that we still have here 28 flags of [EU] member states decorating this rotunda, showing the combined strength of European institutions and its member states."

Addressing the same gathering, Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Cassel Mathale, said the event on Monday showed that the European Union and South Africa are tied up "in a symbiotic relationship".

The gathering was also attended by Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister Chana Pilane-Majake, the European Investment Bank's regional representative Tom Andersen, the dean of diplomatic corps accredited to Pretoria, Democratic Republic of Congo Ambassador Bene Mpoko and Zimbabwe's Ambassador David Hamadziripi among many other dignitaries and officials.

Soon after the official programme wrapped, the attendees enjoyed lunch with many dancing to Masibambane marimba band's music played by a group of learners.

African News Agency (ANA)