Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana
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11 june / 2015

Speech of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana Victor Sibilev at the reception on the occasion of Russia Day

Honourable Ms. Gladys Kokorwe, Speaker of the National Assembly,
The Dean Ambassador of Angola Mr. Jose AgostinhoNeto,
YourExcellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Honourable Mayor of GaboroneMr.KagisoThutlwe,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I cordially welcome You at the celebration of our National Day – Russia Day.

This day is part of our history.On June 12, 1990 the First Congress of People's Representatives of the Russian Federation adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.The changes of the early 1990s were sudden and dramatic. Nevertheless, the hard choice was made for the sake of Russia itself and its future. Russian people’s will, strength and patience helped us to get through the hardships of the past and ultimately reach civil, social and ethnic peace and set our country firmly on a development track that is inseparable from the ideas of sovereignty and national unity.

The main characteristic feature of the current international relations is deep shifts in geopolitical landscape triggered by previous global financial and economic crisis. International relations are undergoing a transitional period with a new polycentric international system emerging. Given global turbulence and growing interdependence of nations, attempts to create isolated “sanctuaries of calm and safety” are futile and the only credible safeguards against further shocks are the observance of universal principles of international law, commitment to equal and indivisible security and respect of other nations’ sovereignty.

In this regard attempts to act in contravention of the UN Charter through imposing views on the rest of the world pose tremendous threat to the global order.

Russia isnow negotiating its way through a challenging period.Unfortunately, we still have to put up with the regime of sanctions. As was repeatedly mentioned by Russia’s leaders, in terms of international law these measures are illegal since the sanctions have not been authorized by the Security Council of the United Nations. Moreover, one should remember that economic restrictions have a “boomerang effect” and will be inevitably detrimental. But probably the most important thing about sanctions is that they will never make Russia change its stance on global political issues. We will further pursue our independent political course based on our perception of national interests and justice. Though sanctionsdo affect economy,they are a catalyst for more concerted steps by the Government to diversify economy and develop import substitution industries.

Traditionally, our ties with African continent have been developing progressively. Our country helped African nations to attain independence,provided extensive assistance in nation building, economic and technical development.

Today Russia is pursuing a course aimed at extending and deepening mutually beneficial cooperation with African states. Russian companies undertake large scale investment projects.A new platinum project has recently been launched in Zimbabwe and the first oil refinery is about to be constructed in Uganda – and these are only the latest examples. Not only does Russia contribute to economic development of African countries, but also extends humanitarian assistance. Currently Russia disburses around 200 mln. US dollars through various UN programmes and initiatives.It has vigorously joined the effort to fight the disease caused by the Ebola virusmaking significant contribution bothat bilateral and multilateral levels.

Looking back at the past fifty years, we can see that Africa has been playing a more prominent role in the international affairs. In this context we commend the consistent policy aimed at broadening political and economic integration within the African Union and SADC. We support efforts by the continental umbrella organisation and sub regional blocs in search of African solutions to African problems.

Russia and Botswana enjoy longstanding ties of friendship, mutual respect and cooperation. This year we celebrated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Since 1970 when official relations between our countrieswere established the Soviet Union, and then the Russian Federation, has become Botswana’s friend and partner.

Today we are prepared to further strengthen friendship and cooperation with the Republic of Botswana. Exactly that desire has frequently been reflected in messages regularly conveyed by President Vladimir V. Putin to the President of Botswana SeretseKhama Ian Khama,and by heads of Russian Foreign Ministry and the Parliament to their counterparts.

We positively consider continuity of political dialogue with Botswana, which is appraised in Moscow as one of successfully developing countries in Africa with a stable internal situation and dynamic economy. What brings our countries closer is the common commitment towards ensuring stability and security, sustainable development and establishment of fair international trade relations.

We would like to reinvigorate parliamentary ties, continue bilateral exchangesbetween the State Duma and the Council of Federation of Russia and the Botswana National Assembly, which had previously reciprocal visits in 2001 and 2005.

A regular round of bilateral political consultations took place in Gaborone in March this year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia was for the first time represented by Deputy Minister as well as Special Presidential Representative on Africa and Middle East Mr. Mikhail Bogdanov. He held talks with Botswana Foreign Minister Dr. PelonomiVenson-Moitoi and SADC Executive Secretary Dr. Stergomena Tax.

Special significance in our cooperation with Botswana is attached to deepening trade and investment links. To ascertain this allows the existing potential in mining, power, water and infrastructure development. A deal of experience has been accumulated during operation of Norilsk Nickel in Botswana since 2007. However, we have other major mining companies, which could establish mutually beneficial ties with partners in Botswana.

In close cooperation with the Botswana Ministry of Health and medical authorities in Francistown Norilsk Nickel developed a mobile telemedicine unit “Tobol”, designed to provide different types of diagnostics. In two weeks’ time “Tobol” will be officially handed over to the Ministry of Health. This 1 mln.dollars worth project will significantly contribute to improving health services in remote and scarcely populated areas of the country.

In recent years the Embassy facilitated participation of Botswana delegations in a number of bilateral and multilateral forums. We are determined to bolster our bilateral economic cooperation by sending to Gaborone a Russian business missionin 2015.

Russia is prepared to continue assistance in training Botswana specialists in such areas as law-enforcement, health and education. We are currently working on increasing the quota of government scholarships allocated to Batswana. On the whole about 300 Botswana students are studying in Russia at the moment.

One of the lines of activity pursued by the Embassy of Russia is cultural diplomacy. We try to use every opportunity to familiarize local public with cultural riches of our country.In November 2014 Russian pianist gave a concert in Maitisong.To mark the 45th anniversary of Russia-Botswana diplomatic relations this March Russian musicians and opera singer were invited to make a joint musical performance.Besides we regularly organize Russian exhibitions at Botswana National Museum. In May Botswana Museum hosted also a film festival to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic war of 1941-1945.

I would like in conclusion to propose a toast to the health and long life of His Excellency Mr. SeretseKhama Ian Khama, the President of the Republic of Botswana, the happiness and well-being of the people of this beautiful country, to friendship and good relations between Russia and Botswana, to the international peace and security.