I have the honour to present my credentials today on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second, as her High Commissioner to Swaziland. I wish to convey the best wishes of the Prime Minister, David Cameron; the British Government; and the British people.
It is a privilege to be here today in your beautiful country. The United Kingdom and Swaziland have a long, historic relationship. I am committed to working steadfastly to maintain and develop these links in support of a strong bilateral relationship based on mutual respect, understanding and honesty.
This is my second visit to Swaziland. I visited for the first time in February for the State Opening of Parliament and it was an honour to meet you on that occasion. During that visit, I was also able to witness the Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton Relay travel through Swaziland on its way to Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on 23 July.
The Queen’s Baton had a remarkable journey around the beautiful countryside of Swaziland, with hundreds of children and local communities turning out to be part of the festive celebration of sport, the Commonwealth and its values. It was a striking example of how sports and events such as the Commonwealth Games can help energise young people and pull together communities and countries from different parts of the world. I wish Swaziland’s athletes a successful and enriching participation in what should be a remarkable 11 days of sports and celebrations.
In this inter-linked modern world – I believe that these sorts of contacts are hugely important in developing the ties that bind countries together. Swaziland and the United Kingdom have strong people to people ties already: we are fellow members of the Commonwealth, many British people travel to Swaziland each year, and many Swazis travel to the United Kingdom.
Our Chevening Scholarship scheme is a good example of the initiatives that can build ties between our countries even further. This initiative allows young Swazis to study a Masters degree in the UK before returning to Swaziland to make a contribution to the development of the Kingdom. I am hoping that this year we will be able to increase the number of scholarship places that we can offer and that many Swazis will apply for places when the bidding round opens on the 1 August.
On the 9 July His Royal Highness Prince Harry officially launched The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second. The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme aims to discover, celebrate and support young people across the Commonwealth to lead the way in transforming their own lives and the futures of others around them. Recipients will have shown extraordinary resolve and leadership in overcoming adversity affecting themselves and their communities. I hope young people in Swaziland take the opportunity to be part of this new and exciting programme.
It was a privilege in February to hear Your speech from the Throne at the State Opening of Parliament. I noted in that speech Your Majesty’s commitment to attain first world status in Swaziland by 2022 and to engineer strong investor confidence to encourage growth and development.
The UK supports development in Swaziland through our contributions to European Development Funds. I know that the 11th EDF will run from this year until 2020. It will involve the programming of 62 million Euros focussing in particular on agriculture and social protection. I was also delighted to hear that negotiations between SADC and the EU on the Economic Partnership are making progress and hope that an agreement will be finalised soon. Alongside these strong areas of cooperation, the Political Dialogue with the European Union is also an important process which offers both sides a chance to openly discuss issues of mutual interest or concern. We look forward to an early resumption of this dialogue.
I welcome the vision His Majesty set out in his speech to parliament of a modern, developed Swazi society. Mobilising the support of all Swazis to this cause will be important. My Government also believes that promoting a fuller political and economic role for women is an important contributor to delivering sustainable development more widely. I welcome the fact that your government is actively considering the implementation of the SADC gender protocol. We should be happy to contribute to the progress of these issues during my time as High Commissioner.
I naturally look forward to helping to strengthen bilateral trade and investment between our countries; as well as to supporting the UK companies and individuals who are already present in your economy. Key to this will be the importance of creating the right political and business environment, including the rule of law and respect for human rights: which will be vital to Swaziland’s aim to attract the inward investment that can help fuel development.
I know that the Commonwealth observed Swaziland’s elections in September 2013. I hope your government can work with the Commonwealth, the international community, and all Swazi stakeholders to follow up the recommendations of the Commonwealth’s Observation Report.
As Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second’s representative in Swaziland I look forward to building our bilateral relationship over the coming years. I hope that I can continue the tradition of holding full and frank bilateral discussions, both with you and your government. Over the forthcoming years, I look forward to passing many more visits in Swaziland: learning more about your country’s history; and its unique and rich culture.