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Presentation of Credentials (Saudi Arabia, Ghana,
Rideau Hall, Monday, November 23, 2009
Welcome to Canada.
It is a great pleasure to welcome you, your families and members of your embassy personnel to Rideau Hall.
Today you cross an important threshold, forging a new, personal bond with our country. You can henceforth count on the friendship and support of Canadians to strengthen and facilitate what we hope will be lasting ties.
The hardships that we are facing these days, not least of which is the global economic crisis, call on us to reflect together, to join efforts, to rethink how we do things and to focus more than ever on our solidarities.
Yes, more than ever, the challenges before us require that we stand together and that we share our perspectives on possible solutions. They also require that we find more creative and inventive ways to work together and seek further opportunities for partnership.
This is why your role, Excellencies, is more important than ever, at a time when we must focus on the values we share, rather than on the borders that separate us.
Ambassador Al Sanosi Ahmad, Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have traditionally enjoyed a strong relationship, and I am pleased to see that it is growing stronger.
One of the cornerstones of that relationship is surely education. I was impressed to learn that there are presently some 8,000 Saudis studying at universities in Canada.
This includes roughly 800 physicians, residents and specialists providing much needed medical care for Canadians.
Education also drew seven Canadians to join the faculty at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology. I think it is a tribute to King Abdullah that this university is the first educational institution in the Kingdom where men and women can study together. That is a hopeful sign for the future.
Beyond a commitment to education our two countries also share an active interest in fostering security and stability.
Excellency, as you well know, the Kingdom speaks with great moral authority in the Muslim world as the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques. Your country is also very important to many Canadians, including the thousands who, every year, perform the hajj to Mecca.
Canada recognizes the importance of Saudi Arabia’s contribution to peace and stability in its region. We encourage the Kingdom to maintain its leadership role. Your Excellency, welcome!
Another country that has played a leading role in fostering international peace and security is Ghana.
High Commissioner Turkson, I have no doubt that you and your fellow citizens are very proud of the fact that Ghana is currently contributing to 11 UN peacekeeping missions.
Clearly, the work of your country’s Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre is bearing fruit. Canada is proud to have contributed to this centre, and of our ongoing work with the Ghanaian Police Service to support their peacekeeping role.
This past year has certainly been a banner year for Ghana. Your country has celebrated the centenary of the birth of Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president.
In July, US President Obama chose Ghana as the first African country to visit.
And this fall, Ghana became the first African country to win the Under-20 World Cup. Congratulations!
Canada and Ghana enjoy very strong relations, and this friendship goes back a long way. We share many values, including a commitment to democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
These form the basis for continued strong relations. And I have witnessed this myself first-hand.
Since I had the pleasure and the honour to visit Ghana in 2006, and received an exceptionally warm welcome.
High Commissioner Turkson, I know that you have also been to Ottawa before, several years ago. As you will see, much has changed in the city. But our winters are still as cold as you may remember! Welcome back!
Ambassador Zalaa-uul, I know that you are familiar with a cold climate. Indeed, Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is reputed to be one of the few national capitals that is colder than Ottawa!
Of course there are many similarities between our two countries, in addition to the cold climate.
We also enjoy vast landscapes, we have small populations, large and powerful neighbours, abundant natural resources, and outward-looking governments.
Excellency, as you know, Canada is the largest investor in Mongolia’s resource sector, and the second-largest overall, after China.
Given that strong relationship, it is perhaps understandable that Mongolia’s Prime Minister Batbold is, to some extent, looking to Canada as a model for development. I am sure both our countries can find effective and creative ways, within our means, to foster greater cooperation.
In addition to our commercial relationship, Canada and Mongolia are also working together to further the cause of peace and security.
Canada has provided support for Mongolia’s involvement in international peacekeeping through our Military Training Assistance Program. Canada also appreciates Mongolia’s contribution to rebuilding Afghanistan’s armed forces. Excellency, welcome!
Ambassador Kutelia, Georgia is another important partner in the work to rebuild and strengthen Afghanistan.
Your country has allowed ISAF troops and equipment to transit its territory en route to Afghanistan, and Georgian medical personnel currently serve ISAF within the Lithuanian Provincial Reconstruction Team.
In June of this year, Georgia confirmed that it plans to send 500 soldiers to Afghanistan in 2010.
Canada values our relations with Georgia and we are committed to furthering our partnership in the areas of trade and investment.
There are a growing number of Georgian students in Canada. We would also like to encourage more visits and more exchanges between our peoples.
Following the 2008 conflict with Russia, Canada was quick to provide funds for reconstruction and relief efforts.
Know that Canada remains firmly supportive of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Welcome!
Excellencies, as you can see, there are many aspects that tie us together. We represent different countries but are united by our common humanity.
Continuing our dialogue, strengthening our ties, and working together toward a common goal: this is what we should focus on throughout your mandate, strong in the friendship that binds us.