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Russia, Botswana celebrate Golden Jubilee

Daily News


By Idah Basimane

Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Mr Dumezweni Mthimkhulu, has hailed Russia for supporting Botswana in various fields critical to development of the country. 

Speaking during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of diplomatic relations between Botswana and Russia in Gaborone on March 6, Mr Mthimkhulu said Russia had contributed to human resource and development, defence, trade and cultural cooperation, among other things. 

He said Russia was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations when Botswana was still one of the list developed countries in the world.

He said while the diamond country was classified as an upper middle income country, Russia recognised that Botswana still had areas of critical need, particularly in human resource management.

The assistant minister said the day marked a crucial moment in the calendar for both countries and thus required citizens of the two countries to reflect on the journey they embarked upon together since March 6, 1970.

Mr Mthimkhulu said the celebration was testimony of Botswana’s commitment to strengthening bilateral bonds of friendship, describing it as another milestone worthy of applause beyond celebration of a 50-year anniversary of diplomatic relations.

“Botswana conveys its gratitude for the immeasurable contribution done by Russia Federation to the people of Botswana as Russia continues to offer scholarship to Botswana in various key fields of study such as health diplomacy and law enforcement,” he said.

 He also highlighted that the abolition of visas between the two countries encouraged and enhanced smooth interaction between the two countries’ economies.

Mr Mthimkhulu also said the two countries were negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of trade noting that he remained confident that the MoU would be become fruitful. 

As Botswana embarked upon the journey of transforming from a resource to knowledge-based economy, the nation was confident that the partnership between the two countries would be characterised by even close collaboration.

Russia ambassador, Mr Victor Sibilev said Russia and Botswana had been enjoying long standing ties of friendship and cooperation for decades.

 He noted that when Botswana gained independence in 1966, on the same day, the government of The Soviet Union proposed to establish diplomatic relations.

Mr Sibilev explained that the Union of Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR) representative and the then Botswana ambassador to Britain, Dr Gaositwe Chiepe, exchanged notes and the historic event was followed by opening of a Russia diplomatic mission in Gaborone in 1976. 

He said Russia and Botswana had succeeded in expanding legal framework of their bilateral relations.

“At present, there are 11 bilateral documents signed by the respective governments and ministries of the two counties. 

The most important of them are Trade Agreements of 1987, the Agreement of Cultural Scientific and Educational Cooperation of 1999, The protocol in Political Consultations of 2002, The Agreement on Visa Travels on Diplomatic and service passports 2005, The Agreement on Military -Technical Cooperation of 213, The Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Education of 2016, The Agreement on the Exemption of Visa requirements for the nationals of The Russian Federation and The Nationals of the Republic of Botswana of 2019 and others,” he said. 

He said they were working on several inter-ministerial MoUs and other agreements designed to expand cooperation in the fields of healthcare, environmental protection, industry and investment.

He also noted that his country considered continuity of political dialogue with Botswana, stating that in accordance with the protocol signed in 2002, political consultations weree regularly held by foreign ministries of Russia and Botswana. 

On trade and economics of the two countries Ambassador Sibilev explained they were based on the principals of equity, mutual benefit and were being considered as spheres of high potential. 

In 2019, the trade volume between Russian and Botswana increased from US$20-28 million.