Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana
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11 june / 2019

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, Gaborone, June 11, 2019

Honourable Dr. Unity Dow, the Guest of Honour and the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana,

His Excellency Mr. Festus Mogae, the third President of the Republic of Botswana,

Honourable Honourable Justice Terence Rannowane, the Chief Justice of the Republic of Botswana,

Honourable Mr Karabo Gare, the Assistant Minister, Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry of the Republic of Botswana,

Honourable Mr. Dikgang Phillip Makgalemele, the Assistant Minister, Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development of the Republic of Botswana,

Esteemed Mr. Moses D.Pelaelo, Governor of the Bank of Botswana,

His Worship Mr. Kagiso Thutlwe, Mayor of Gaborone,

Your Excellences, Heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations, senior government officials, representatives of industry, business, media and dear Russian compatriots,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen!

I. Russia Day is a rather young national holiday of the Russian Federation celebrated since 2002 on the 12th of June. It commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on June 12, 1990. This day allow Russian people not only to assess our achievements in the past but also to shape new plans and look into the future together with their partners and friends.

Our country has achieved a considerable progress in its economic development. The Russian GDP last year was USD 1,6 trillion (growth – 2,3%). Manufacturing increased by 7%, agriculture – more than 5%. Inflation did not exceed 4%. According to the UN World tourism organization in 2018 Russia became one of the most popular tourism destinations with 24,6 million overseas tourists visiting it.

On May 29, 2019, a jubilee meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (WEC) took place in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan), devoted to the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). All participants of the meeting positively assessed the results of the Assosiation activities in the first five years and stated the improvement in the economic situation in the Union countries. In 2018, the growth of GDP as a whole of the EAEU was 2.5%, industrial output increased by 18.8%, mutual trade – by 9.2%.

In March this year Crimea celebrated the fifth anniversary of its reunification with the Russian Federation upon the referendum when more than 96% of the peninsula's population spoke in favour of it. Russia notes with satisfaction the growing number of people having unbiased opinion on the situation in Crimea, and the interest in cooperating with it from political circles, foreign businesses, and civil society. Regardless of systematic malicious speculations, Crimea enjoys the atmosphere of inter-ethnic accord characterized by consideration for all ethnic minorities. Now Crimea is one of the most dynamically developing Russian regions.

The international conditions for the Russian Federation remains complicated. However, according to the address of the Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Upper Chamber of our Parliament on February 20, 2019, Russia remains open for dialogue. It helps to consolidate positive trends in Syria and on the Korean Peninsula, resolve other crises and conflicts, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the Ukraine and Venezuela. As before, our country is interested in restoring normal relations with US and EU on the principles of equality and mutual respect of interests.

The XXIII Petersburg International Economic Forum became the main event in the world during the first half of the year with over 19 thousand people from 145 countries attending it. Its key topic was “Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda”. Most participants, 1300, came from China. The USA and Great Britain brought 520 and 300 respectively. During the Forum 620 business agreements were signed with total amount being about 50 billion dollars.

On June 7 the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Chinese President and the Guest of Honour Xi Jinping, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the President of Bulgaria, the Prime Ministers of Slovakia and Armenia took part in the plenary session. In his speech, Vladimir Putin focused on the need for more equality in global trade and criticized those who opted for sanctions and trade wars as tools of pressure to achieve the dominance in the whole world.

The Russia-Africa business session was held on June 7. African countries were represented by Vice-President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, H.E. D.Duncan, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation of Botswana Dr. Unity Dow, the Chairmen of the House of Chiefs Kgosi Puso Gaborone, ministers and other heads of delegations from African states and the African Union, Ambassadors accredited to Moscow. The participants discussed in detail the issues of the state and prospects for developing Russia's partnership with the countries of the African continent and accelerating their interaction in the political, economic and humanitarian fields.

II. Africa is still one of the most important partners for Russia. Moscow is interested in closer foreign policy coordination with its African partners in the UN and other multilateral venues. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia supports the UN Security Council reforms to ensure the fairer representation of the developing regions of the world, particularly Africa, in this global organization. On October 23, 2018, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation S.Lavrov and the South African Development Community (SADC) Executive Secretary S.Tax signed Memorandum of understanding on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation. At the same time, SADC Investment Forum was held in Moscow for the improvement of our economic cooperation. Its participants underlined the increasing interest of Russian investors in African countries and prospects for developing trade and economic cooperation with SADC.

This year Russia will launch the comprehensive “Russia-Africa” dialogue programme. Moscow will host the annual general meeting of the shareholders of the African Export –Import Bank on June 18-22 which will be held out of the African continent for the second time in its history with the Russia-Africa Economic Conference being the integral part of the event. The “Russia-Africa” parliamentary conference will be held in Moscow on July 3, 2019.

The final and the key stage of the Programme will be the first “Russia-Africa” Summit in Sochi on October 24, 2019, with Business Forum preceding it. On the invitation of the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the President of Egypt and Chairperson of the African Union Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Heads of State and Government of most African countries as well as the regional organizations such as the SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Tax are expected to attend it and discuss the possible cooperation projects with the Russian Federation in different spheres.

The Russian economic cooperation with Africa’s countries has improved for the past few years. Our trade with Sub-Saharan countries amounted to $3,5 billion in 2018, compared to $2,2 billion in 2015. Russia continues to make a significant contribution to the education and training sphere of African countries. Now more then 15 thousand African students are studying in Russia. At the same time Russia continues to provide African states with humanitarian aid on the bilateral and multilateral basis. Lately the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Republic of Malawi and the Republic of Mozambique have received Russia’s aid after Cyclone Idai hit these countries, causing unprecedented flooding in the southeast of Africa and large-scale destruction.

III. We consider Russia-Botswana relations as traditionally friendly. Today our relations are characterized by the fruitful permanent high level political dialogue.

In this regard, the meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Mr.S.Lavrov and the Minister of international Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana Dr.U.Dow at the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and the signing of the intergovernmental Agreement on the Exemption of the Visa Requirements for the Nationals of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Botswana are of paramount importance. As the Russian Foreign Minister said, this Agreement would ensure that our peoples and business community members will have more comfortable conditions for interacting with each other. The parties discussed the key issues of mutual interest as well as the cooperation in the Kimberly Process and preparation to the commemoration of the golden 50th jubilee of the establishment of bilateral relation between our countries on March 6, 2020.

On May 14-18, 2019, the Judge President Mr. A.Tafa participated in the IX Petersburg International Legal Forum and used this opportunity to establish ties with his Russian counterparts and lay the foundation of further interaction between our countries in this sphere.

The cooperation between our countries covers the fields of diplomacy, defence, education, health, trade and mining. Russia contributes to the training of Botswana specialists in different areas such as mining, engineering, medicine, IT, law enforcement and others. Annually around 60 students go to Russia for studying at our universities with several police officers conducting short-term advanced training courses and getting full education. Moreover, the Embassy does its best to give young politicians and diplomats the chance to establish contacts with their Russian counterparts within the programme “New Generation”.

In conclusion, I would like to propose a toast to the health and long life of Their Excellences Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana, and Mr. Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, the happiness and well-being of the people of our two countries, to friendship and good relations between Russia and Botswana, to the international peace and security.