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Speech by President of the Government of Spain during joint institutional statement with President of Republic of Angola

Luanda (Angola), Thursday 8 April 2021

Thank you very much.

Firstly, I would like to thank the media for attending this press conference.

I would sincerely like to thank President Lourenço and also his government ministers for their kind invitation to make this visit, which has been long awaited by both governments. The last time a President of the Government of Spain visited Angola was back in 1991.

And I am very pleased to be able to come here to Luanda, despite the difficulties posed by the pandemic. And hence, I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the two delegations and of both governments in setting up and making this visit possible. I also wish to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the work of the Government of Angola and of President Lourenço in fighting the pandemic in Angola.

Despite the difficulties at this time, if we view things in perspective, I believe we are looking at a great opportunity to rebuild better, in a more sustainable, fairer, more just, inclusive and resilient manner. That is why I feel it is important to concentrate all our efforts on the reconstruction of our societies, seriously affected by the consequences of the health crisis.

As regards the health crisis, I feel it is important to underline that we trust that the great multilateral efforts we have made over recent months to achieve universal access to the vaccine against COVID-19, primarily through COVAX, which Spain actively contributes to, will start to bear fruit. The president and I also spoke about this.

Angola, as President Lourenço rightly said, is a priority country for Spain, as contained in our global strategy for Africa. The 3rd Africa Plan approved by the Government of Spain in 2019 stated this. The Focus on Africa 2023, which we approved just a few weeks ago in Madrid, indicates that this country - Angola - is one of the priority countries for our action on the African continent.

I am also pleased to know that Spain is considered by Angola to be a priority partner in its economic diversification process. I congratulated the President on the resumption of his efforts to stabilise and diversify its economy and thus make it less dependent on oil.

Angola, as the President rightly said, is a country with great natural resources, an enormous potential, with phases of great economic growth, as we have seen in the past, and hence it offers tremendous opportunities for exports and for direct investment projects in this country.

Spain has, as you know, many companies with great international experience and sectors in which the Government of Angola has indicated as a priority in this diversification strategy: the areas of transport, as mentioned here, infrastructures, engineering and energy, which could, in short, make a significant contribution to the diversification and development of Angola's economy.

I am particularly pleased that we have signed an agreement on air transport, Mr President, along with three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to extend cooperation on agriculture, fishing and industry.

This afternoon, or rather, this morning, we held a business meeting which helped further strengthen the business and trade relations between Angola and Spain. Both the Government of Spain and Spanish companies want to extend our cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

Among the sectors in which, in our opinion, we can continue to develop our bilateral cooperation are agro-industrial development, water, sanitation, the treatment of solid waste, hospitals and health management, capital goods, and also tourism, fishing and security, to mention a few.

This morning, or rather, this afternoon, we also had the chance to speak with some business leaders that have very significant investments here. For example, an electricity sub-station built by a Spanish company that guarantees the supply of electricity throughout the northern part of the city of Luanda.

Hence, Angola is also an important regional player. I have had the chance to acknowledge this to President Lourenço in the bilateral talks we held. His commitment to peace and stability are important pillars that have helped Angola acquire weight, respect and influence in achieving peaceful and negotiated solutions for the conflicts that exist in the region.

We have particularly welcomed the tremendous commitment from President Lourenço in the mediation and search for negotiated solutions to conflicts in the three priority regions of Sub-Saharan Africa: the Gulf of Guinea, the Great Lakes and Southern Africa.

We share this approach with Angola and agree on the importance of also strengthening our collaboration in this area.

Specifically, we consider our collaboration to be particularly important in the area of maritime security, taking into account the current challenges for navigation and security in the Gulf of Guinea.

President Lourenço and I also agreed on the need to remain committed to multilateralism and I feel that, in the wake of the health emergency, the importance of introducing, let's say, multilateral tools that can tackle the global challenges we face has been made even clearer, not just regarding the health, economic and social emergency, but also in regard to climate change, economic and financial stability, peace, the fight against inequalities. In short, making the 2030 Agenda real that many societies and many governments are committed to.

In this regard, we firmly believe in the need to also strengthen multilateral institutions, particularly the United Nations.

As a government, we advocate the principle of African solutions to African problems. In this regard, we firmly support the African Union and regional integration processes.

In short, we are also committed, as President Lourenço has said, to free trade and order based on rules. We have watched with great interest the introduction in January of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and we urge our African partners to develop their full potential.

So, Mr President, it has taken us 20 years to make this official visit to Angola a reality; I hope we will not have to wait so long to receive you on an official visit to Madrid, also in relation to this common goal we have of stepping up political, cultural, commercial and economic relations between Angola and Spain.

Thank you very much.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation