State Visit to South Africa
On Tuesday, Their Majesties The King and Queen began a three-day state visit to South Africa, where they headed a delegation of representatives from the Norwegian government, cultural and business sectors.
The King and Queen were greeted by President Jacob Zuma and Mrs Zuma in an official welcoming ceremony in the Union Buildings, which form the official seat of the South African Government and house the offices of the President. The grounds around the buildings contain terraced gardens and a number of monuments, statues and memorials. It is here where the inauguration ceremonies for new presidents are held.
The welcoming ceremony was followed by bilateral talks between The King and Queen and President and Mrs Zuma as well as meetings between the Norwegian and South African delegations. Later in the day, The King and Queen also met with Vice-President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Opened seminar on international politics
King Harald then presided over the official opening of the seminar entitled States in Fragile Environments at the University of Pretoria. Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre was among the keynote speakers at the seminar, which focused on the challenges that vulnerable states pose to peace and security in Africa. High on the agenda were the challenges related to reconstruction and disarmament – especially the campaign against landmines and cluster bombs.
In his opening remarks, King Harald emphasised the productive cooperation between South Africa and Norway on the convention to ban the use of landmines.
- With the strong political support of our respective governments and the efforts of dedicated individuals, both countries contributed significantly to achieving this important treaty. Today this successful cooperation is being further developed in a closely linked process, working towards an international ban on cluster munitions. They are another form of silent and indiscriminate killers that affect civilians in particular.
Guided tour of Freedom Park
Freedom Park sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Pretoria. Opened in 2007, the park was designed to restore social cohesion to the country by focusing on reconciliation as well as bearing witness to the past. The park seeks to tell the history of the South African people through visual, interactive means.
Following a guided tour of the park, King Harald and Queen Sonja met with the Field Band Foundation, whose goal is to give young people the opportunity to develop their abilities through music and dance. The foundation has enjoyed a partnership with the Norwegian Band Federation since 2001. Through the exchange programme known as Bands Crossing Borders, South African band members have studied and worked in Norway for one year, while Norwegian musicians have spent a year studying in South Africa.
In the evening, the King and Queen were the guests of President and Mrs Zuma at an official banquet held in the Presidential Guesthouse.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.
World Heritage at Vega
In 2004, UNESCO inscribed the Vega Archipelago on the World Heritage List. Today His Royal Highness The Crown Prince was in attendance to open the new Vega Archipelago World Heritage Centre – Norway’s first authorised centre of its kind.