|Remarks by President Thabo Mbeki, Chairperson of the African Union at the Official Opening of the AU Conference Centre, Addis Ababa, 3 February 2003|
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government;
This is indeed an important day for all of us, as we assemble here at the headquarters of our continental organisation, the African Union, almost 40 years since its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, was established.
As we gather here today, officially to open this beautiful and impressive new Conference Centre of our recently launched African Union, we must, once more, thank the Government and people of Ethiopia for generously agreeing to host the headquarters of our Union.
We are also pleased to thank the other Governments of the member states of the Union who contributed significant resources to ensure that we now have this magnificent Conference Centre. What these sister countries have done is to demonstrate in a practical way that we have both the determination and the ability to meet the challenges facing our continent.
As all of us know, we have convened at our headquarters to consider various amendments to the Constitutive Act that serves as the constitution of the African Union. These changes have been suggested because of our common resolve to ensure that our organisation functions effectively and efficiently.
Our peoples throughout our continent are determined that we must advance in a decisive manner towards the realisation of the goals of African political and economic integration and unity. We have to do this so that we overcome the problems of poverty and underdevelopment that afflict Africa, impose misery on millions of Africans, and lead to the global marginalisation of our continent and its peoples.
The magnitude of these challenges requires that we have an organisation, the African Union, that has the capacity to respond in an appropriate manner. This is the significance of this Conference Centre. It has been constructed not for purposes of an ostentatious display.
It exists in order to improve the functioning of the Union. It exists because we need to create the necessary physical conditions for all the structures of our organisation to function at their best.
It is therefore most appropriate that the building is commissioned on the same day as we meet in an Extraordinary Assembly of the Union dedicated to the task of ensuring we establish the best possible legal framework for the effective functioning of the Union.
In this building that we inaugurate today, let the deliberations always remain focussed on improving the quality of life of all Africans and making our beloved Continent, and indeed the rest of the world, a better and safer place to live in.
We are therefore honoured to commend this Conference Centre to all our member states, to the Commission and staff of the African Union, and the peoples of Africa.
Issued by The Presidency
3 February 2003