Thatcher always a steadfast critic of apartheid - FW de Klerk

Former president says late British PM better grasped SA's complexities than many other of her contemporaries


I have learned with great sadness of the death of Baroness Thatcher. She will be remembered not only as one of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers but also as a leader whose policies and approach had a significant impact on politics throughout the world.

Although she was always a steadfast critic of apartheid, she had a much better grasp of the complexities and geo-strategic realities of South Africa than many of her contemporaries. She consistently, and correctly, believed that much more could be achieved through constructive engagement with the South African government than through draconian sanctions and isolation. She also understood the need to consider the concerns and aspirations of all South Africans in their search for constitutional consensus.

For this reason she was able to play a positive role in supporting our own process of non-racial constitutional transformation in South Africa. From my first meeting with her in London after my election as leader of the National Party in 1989 and throughout the rest of her tenure as Prime Minister, she gave strong and valued to support to me and to all other leaders who were working for a peaceful, prosperous, and constitutional future for South Africa.    

We met in the Cape and in London many times after her retirement from office - and before her stroke in 2002. I am honoured to have had Margaret Thatcher as a friend.

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation, April 8 2013

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