The Nordic countries, and particularly Sweden under the leadership of Olof Palme, were very active in the struggle against South Africa's apartheid regime. During the final days of his term as President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela made a tour of the Netherlands and the Nordic countries, to once again thank them for their support. These are excerpts from his farewell speech to the Swedish parliament.
Swedish support for Mandela and the ANC was severely criticised at the time by the Conservative Party of Carl Bildt. See
Address to the Swedish Parliament
March 18, 1999
We know that we stand before those who used their democratic power so that others could have democracy, too. It was here that laws were made and budgets adopted to give effect to the determination of the Swedish people as a whole to be in the forefront of the world-wide campaign to isolate the apartheid regime and to support our struggle for democracy.
It is fitting that what is probably our last official visit to Europe before retirement should include Sweden, which made a contribution to our liberation that was out of all proportion to your size.
Today, South Africa has powerful friends. There is a danger that we may forget those small countries who, when were shunned by almost the entire world, stood with us and in time mobilised the international community. It was therefore important that we should pay this visit before the end of our first democratic government.
We have come to once more thank Sweden from the bottom of our hearts for what you did-- the labour movement, NGOs, churches and others, and the million of ordinary Swedish men and women who insisted that the rights they enjoyed should be enjoyed by all people everywhere. Their passionate commitment was reflected in he resolute and remarkable support we had from the Swedish government. . . .
Though the challenges of reconstruction are even greater than those of liberation, and though we have some difficult problems, we face them with confidence, knowing what progress South Africans have made by working together, and knowing tat we have the support of countries like Sweden. . . .
On my return to my country, I will be able to tell my people that in Sweden, as in the other Nordic countries and the Netherlands, we have true friends, indeed, who are ready to work with us in partnership for a better world.
I thank you.