Remarks of H.E. Mr. Victor I. Sibilev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana at the farewell meeting with H.E. Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana
November 13, 2020
Your Excellency, Dr. M. Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana, thank you for receiving me in connection with the completion of my mission as Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana.
First of all, let me note that the continuous top-level dialogue which exists today between the President Vladimir Putin and you, Your Excellency, is highly appreciated and seems to be developed by both parties. Besides, Russian Foreign Minister Mr. S. Lavrov has already expressed the willingness to work closely with his new Botswana counterpart in his congratulatory message on the occasion of Mr Kwape’s appointment.
Confidentially speaking, it is my sincere desire that once, after this pandemic, you, Your Excellency, will pay an official visit to Russia which will be traditionally followed by the opening of the Botswana Embassy in Moscow as it is envisaged in the 11th National Development Plan.
During my mission, which covers 6 years starting from September 2014, Russia and Botswana have been enjoying strong mutually beneficial relations which were cemented in Botswana’s pre-independence period with the support for the independent movements at the African continent provided by my country. In 2020 we have been jointly celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our states.
Our countries have registered a lot of achievements for the last couple of years. On June 25, 2016 the MOU in the sphere of education was signed that gave opportunity to 30 Botswana citizens annually, with up to 5 of them – on medical specialties, to receive education in Russia within the quota of the Russian Government. At present thanks to this MOU about 300 Botswana students study at Russian universities, both on state-sponsored and contract basis. Moreover, Russia supports Botswana Police Service, sponsoring the short-term skills development courses and higher education programmes.
In this regard, I would also like to draw special attention to the our Intergovernmental Agreement on cooperation in the field of defense signed on August 28, 2018 which inter alia has a big potential in providing education for Botswana military officers on the free basis which was confirmed by President V. Putin on July 2, 2019.
Our great achievement is the signing the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Exemption of the Visa Requirements for the Nationals of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Botswana on June 6, 2019. Entering into force on October 8, 2019, this Agreement created more comfortable conditions for our citizens for interacting with each other in the spheres of tourism, business, people-to-people contacts.
The economic relations and trade between our countries based on the principals of equality and mutual benefit are also considered as sectors of high potential. In 2019 the trade volume between Russia and Botswana increased by 23% up to $32 mln. Although most volume consists of the diamond export/import operations, we hope that Your export-oriented policy will facilitate Botswana export to the Russian market. Especially, let me express my appreciation of your personal deliberate contribution to the diversification of Botswana economy by introducing the Small stock donation initiative, which I witnessed personally as the invited guest during Your visit to farmers on October, 17, 2020.
Moreover, our countries enjoy close cooperation in the framework of the Kimberley Process. In July 2020 the Administrative Decision on the Postponement of Russia’s Chairmanship which is a Chair in the current year to 2021 and Botswana’s Chairmanship which is a Vice-Chair currently to 2022 was approved in consensus.
I wish to inform you, Your Excellency, that the Russian Embassy in Gaborone initiated the decision of the Steering Committee of the Russian Federation-UNDP Trust Fund to fund various projects in Botswana with more than 9 mln pula being allocated to create jobs for young men and women. The official announcement is expected to be made by the Steering Committee on November 25, 2020. The Russian funds are to be backed by deploying several Russian specialists in Botswana through the UN Volunteers Programme. Special assistance will be done by the Russian National Research University Higher School of Economic Business Incubator.
Another important mechanism of cooperation is the New Development Bank of the BRICS. The BDP’s 2019 manifesto emphasized commitment for closer interaction with BRICS countries. As a result, the Board of Directors of the Bank has made a decision recently to increase the number of its stakeholders. 5 new member-states of this Bank, among them Botswana, are to be announced at the BRICS Summit in Moscow on 17 November.
I wish to emphasize also some other opportunities for further Russia-Botswana cooperation. Among them the standing Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum established by the Russian Government decision in April 2020 and the Russian NGO Association on the economic cooperation with African countries which is created to facilitate the direct contacts of the Russian companies with African business.
In conclusion, let me say few words about the first ever vaccine against COVID-19 – «Sputnik V», registered in Russia on August 11, 2020 and announced as 92% effective and safe, with two others being tested successfully. The clinical trials of the Russian vaccine have already been launched in Belarus, Venezuela, India Brazil and Argentina. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines are expected to run the trials soon. If Botswana sends the respective request, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, which has an exclusive right to produce and supply the vaccine abroad, would be ready to discuss the terms of partnership. And our Embassy and I do our best to assist Botswana in this matter.
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to have been serving as the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana with which Russia has developed long-standing friendly relations.
It is my first experience of work in Africa, however, my mission in Botswana was absolutely successful and happy. I have known personally 4 Presidents and plenty of other inspiring and impressive people. Since September 2014, I have spent a lot of breathtaking moments by discovering the unique sights and places of Botswana. Your beautiful country will remain in my memories forever.
I wish Botswana to achieve further great successes and its people to continue prospering and preserving the natural wealth of its home.