Damascus, SANA-South Africa Republic celebrates its Freedom Day, South Africa’s national day on April 27th, and commemorates the first democratic, non-racial elections which were held in 1994.
After years of struggle led by Nelson Mandela, South Africa succeeded in ending the apartheid regime and started to become an effective power in the region and one of the most stable and developed African countries which qualified it to become a member state of the BRICS and of the G-20.
Before forming the South African Union in 1919, the country used to consist of a number of fighting districts and colonies which were under the control of the British colonization which adopted the apartheid policy differentiating between the white immigrants who are of European origins and the African locals.
In 1948, the national party of the European residents won in questionable elections and it adopted the policy of apartheid and applied it in all walks of life to establish a regime that was known as the regime of “Apartheid”.
The practices of the apartheid regime pushed the Africans to struggle for tens of years to achieve the liberation backed by a number of the national liberation movements in different countries in the world including Syria, and this struggle was crowned with holding the first multi-party elections in which Mandela won in 1994.
Outstanding historic relations bind Syria and South Africa as the two countries share identical viewpoints towards various international issues, on top, the standing against the apartheid and their support to the peoples’ right in deciding their fate, in addition to supporting the international liberation movements.
The relations binding the two countries have witnessed a rapid development over the past few years based on both countries’ desire to enhance bilateral cooperation in political, economic, trade and scientific domains.
In 2009, Syria and South Africa signed an agreement that aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of higher education and facilitating the recognition of the academic certificates issued by the institutions of higher education in both countries.
In 2010, the two countries signed a political cooperation protocol and an agreement of economic and trade cooperation with the aim of boosting bilateral cooperation in the domains of transportation, technology and knowledge, in addition to carrying out joint projects and encouraging the specialized companies and bodies to consider the possibility of carrying out cooperation projects included in the agreement.
Based on its principled stances in support of Syria’s right to restore the occupied Golan and in support of the Palestinian cause, and its stand by the countries which seek to counter terrorism, South Africa has been keen on enhancing cooperation with Syria and supporting it in facing the challenges of the current crisis.
Over the last few months, several meetings were held between the two countries to discuss cooperation in the domains of transportation, construction and higher education.
Other topics of discussion between the two countries were the possibility of benefiting from South Africa’s experiences in the domain of achieving a considerable economic growth, localizing investments, strategic agriculture, developing food and electronic industries and its pioneer experience in the national reconciliation.
During a reception held in Damascus on Sunday celebrating South Africa’s Freedom Day, South African Ambassador in Damascus Shaun Byneveldt highlighted the strong ties binding his country and Syria, affirming keenness on developing them as the two countries are key players on the international level.
Byneveldt said his country’s “road to freedom and democracy had not been easy and it wouldn’t have been achieved without the real friends such as Syria and other members of the international community”.
In a speech during the event, Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Fayssal Mikdad stressed Syria’s support to the people of South Africa in their struggle for liberation and eliminating racism in all forms.
He pointed out that the support provided to the apartheid by countries that are currently fighting humanity under pretexts of protecting human rights, citing the sufferings of the Palestinians under the occupation of Israel, which was a supporter of the apartheid regime.
Dr. Mikdad said that Syria is now fighting a new form of apartheid, which is the international terrorism along with its backers, adding that Syria will be victorious.
R. al-Jazaeri/ Barry