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Foreign Minister Urmas Paet Attended Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service

10.12.2013

Foreign Minister Urmas Paet attended the memorial service for former president of the Republic of South Africa Nelson Mandela today in Johannesburg.

According to Paet, Mandela inspired countless people with his dedication and humanism and made the world a better place. “Mandela’s legacy to the world in the fight for human rights and justice is extraordinary,” he added.

Nelson Mandela was one of the most important politicians of the 20th century and a symbol of the fight against apartheid. “Regardless of the injustices Mandela experienced in his life, including his 27-year imprisonment, he supported the equal co-existence of different communities,” noted Paet. “Mandela’s work in the name of peace and reconciliation and his fortitude and consideration will mark him as an extraordinary individual in the history of the world,” stated Paet.

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,” said Mandela at the court session where he was sentenced to prison.

Nelson Mandela died on 5 December. At today’s memorial service, speeches were given by, among others, Mandela’s grandchildren, US President Barack Obama, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, South African President Jacob Zuma, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. Also present at the ceremony were French President Francois Hollande and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Representatives of over 100 countries were present at the memorial service.

Mandela was the first black South-African president in the years 1994-1999.

Mandela was born in 1918 and joined the African National Congress in 1943. In 1964, he was accused of sabotage and sentenced to life in prison. Nevertheless, Mandela was freed from prison in 1990.

In 1993, he was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with then-President Frederik de Klerk.

After his presidency Mandela became the Republic of South Africa’s most influential spokesman, fighting actively against HIV and AIDS and helping to secure South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

He also participated in peace negotiations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, other African countries, and elsewhere. 

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