English Pages, 7. 12. 2006
Dear Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to use this special opportunity for expressing my thanks for the invitation to visit your country and for the warm welcome extended to me, my wife and my delegation here.
My today’s visit is the very first visit by the President of the Czech Republic to your country and to all Sub-Saharan Africa. We came to the conclusion that it is appropriate to start my African journey here, in Nigeria, in this most populous country of Africa. It is a country which is a small continent in itself, a country which brings together many geographic, ethnic, cultural and religious differences and combines them in a unique whole. I believe that this unity in diversity, so typical for your country, is now symbolized also by your new capital city of Abuja which we have had the chance to see – at least briefly – today.
We know very well that your country was a cradle of very advanced civilizations which substantially and uniquely contributed to the world’s cultural heritage. The monuments of Islamic culture in the Northern regions of your country, as well as Yoruba and Benin bronze and ivory sculptures in the South, belong to the best of the African and world art. What the colonial era brought to your country was, unfortunately, not only new contacts with overseas or new impulses for development and for the creation of a common identity. It was also an era of slave trading, an era of wars and sufferings that afflicted many generations of your predecessors.
Mr. President, I am glad that diplomatic relations between our countries were established very shortly after Nigeria declared its independence in 1960 and that this step contributed to enhancing our mutual economic relations which date back to the period between the two world wars. We are aware of the great potential of your country, its enormous natural resources, especially oil and gas, as well as human resources, and we are prepared to cooperate with you in many fields.
The Czech Republic is going through a relatively very successful period of its development. It is a fast growing, industrially developed European country. It is a member of the European Union, and it is a reliable economic partner for the rest of the world. The Czech companies traditionally offer advanced technologies with which they succeed in the most demanding world markets. I am sure they have something to offer to their Nigerian partners as well. I wish to inform you, Mr. President, that there are top Czech businessmen in my delegation and I trust their meetings with their Nigerian counterparts will represent another significant incentive for mutual trade and investments. We are also interested in developing cooperation in culture and education, where we do have something to build upon.
Dear Mr. President, we appreciate the role Nigeria plays on the international scene, especially in its efforts to find solutions to tragic conflicts and problems on the African continent and to help in the projects of economic cooperation between African countries. I believe that the significance of your country, both in the African affairs and internationally, will continue to increase. I want to assure you that the Czech Republic is prepared to work with you, both bilaterally and from within the European Union.
Allow me, dear Mr. President, to make a toast to a happy future and successful development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to the friendship of the peoples of both our countries, to the good health of yourself and your relatives.
Václav Klaus, Abuja, Presidential Palace, 7. 12. 2006
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