Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana
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08 february

Speech of the Russian Ambassador Victor Sibilev on the occasion of Russia’s Diplomacy Day February 8, 2019

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

Your Worship Mr. Kagiso Thutlwe, Mayor of Gaborone City,

Ambassadors, Heads and members of Diplomatic missions and International Organizations,

Leadership and officers of the esteemed Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana,

Senior Government Officials here present,

Distinguished Guests,

Russian compatriots,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to welcome you all today at our traditional friendly meeting on the occasion of the Russian Diplomacy Day. It was established by the Presidential Decree in 2002 to commemorate the founding of the Russian Diplomatic Service in 1549 and is being marked every year on the 10th of February.

The date itself is closely associated with the history of Russia’s first foreign affairs agency – the Ambassadorial Department (or “Posolsky Prikaz” in Russian). It was first mentioned in official chronicles on February 10th, 1549.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established in the year of 1802.

I. Russian diplomacy pursues an independent multidirectional foreign policy, makes efforts to strengthen the positive trends on the international stage, finds collective solutions based on international law to the problems all countries are facing, and ultimately promotes a fairer and more democratic polycentric world order in keeping with objective modern realities. It develops mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and plays an active role in the activity of the UN, multilateral organizations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the OSCE, and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Foreign Minister S. Lavrov in his speech on the results of Russian diplomacy in 2018 noted that last year Russia paid special attention to all kea areas and intended to promote the establishment of a truly universal antiterrorist coalition under the auspices of the UN, to mobilise the international community to more effectively combat drug trafficking and other types of organised crime. The Russian side sought to support positive trends in Syria and on the Korean Peninsula, in other crises and conflicts, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in the Ukraine.

II. Africa is an important partner for Russia, an active participant in the emerging polycentric architecture of the world order. Relying on the accumulated experience of productive cooperation, Russian diplomats seek to pursue a consistent policy for deepening the range of Russia-Africa relations, based on the principles of international law, equality, and respect for the mutual interests. The Russian Federation attaches great importance to strengthening peace and security in the region which is the most important component in ensuring the sustainable and dynamic development of the African states and maintaining global and regional stability. Russia supports the principle “to African problems - African solutions” according to which the continent countries themselves should find solutions to their problems.

Our country has maintained regular contacts with African countries at the highest and higher levels. Last year on March 5-9, the Russian Foreign Minister S.Lavrov made a tour of 5 African countries: Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. This year on January 23-26, he visited the Maghreb countries, including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. On May 25, 2018, the Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Central African Republic’s (CAR) President Mr. F.Touadera on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. On January 14-16, 2019 H.E. Mr. E.Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, visited Russia and had the talks with the Russian President V.Putin. Besides, on October 23, 2018 the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Southern African Development Community on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation was signed by Minister S.Lavrov and Executive Secretary of SADC Dr. S.Tax to mark a new page in our bilateral relations.

Moscow is interested in close foreign policy coordination with its African partners in the UN and other multilateral venues. In particular, we support willingness of African countries to have permanent representation in the UN Security Council. During the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg on July 25-27, 2018, the BRICS leaders met with the heads of invited African state and regional organization and focused on the further deepening the dialogue between the Group of Five and African countries. In this regard, the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Ms. L.Sisulu said “Nowadays there is no country in Africa which does not know what the BRICS is”.

Currently there is a great demand for more intensive cultural, humanitarian, academic and youth exchanges, as well as general contacts between people. For example, many Africans have in fact discovered modern Russia for themselves taking part in the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi on October 2017 or while tens of thousands foreign fans visited Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Two major events - the Russia-Africa Parliamentary Forum, as well as the Russia-Africa Business Forum - will soon take place. These events will be followed by Russia-Africa summit which is as well to be held in 2019.

III. Particularly, Moscow and Gaborone cooperation has aimed at deepening their political dialogue and stepping up mutually beneficial ties in the trade, economic, humanitarian and other spheres, based on the firm foundations of traditional friendship between Russia and Botswana. Both sides have developed top-level political dialogue, promoting inter-parliamentary contacts and expanding cooperation between foreign ministries. Last year in August the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security of Botswana Mr. Sh. Kgathi visited Moscow. In September former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development of Botswana Dr. P. Venson-Moitoi took part in the Second Eurasian Woman Forum in St. Petersburg and joined its Declaration. In November Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development of Botswana Mr. D.Makgalemele participated in the 7th Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum. In July the Deputy Mayor of Gaborone Mr K.Tshekega attended Moscow Urban Forum at the invitation of Mr S.Sobyanin, the Mayor of the Russian capital.

Our countries continue to develop education and cultural exchanges. Annually above 50 students go to Russia for studying at the Russian universities. 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”.

At today’s friendly meeting, there are leadership and senior officers of the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other diplomats. Using this opportunity as the Russian Ambassador and the Dean of the local diplomatic corps, I would like to sincerely wish you success in fulfilling your professional duties in New Year. Besides, on behalf of all here present I would like to wish our new colleagues, Ambassador H.E. Ms. Meltem Büyükkarakas of Turkey and High Commissioner of Namibia H.E. Mr. Asser Kapare, good luck and great success at their diplomatic activity.

Distinguished guests, allow me to propose a toast to the sound health and long life of His Excellency Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, Heads of Foreign Ministries Honourable Dr. Unity Doy and Mr. Sergey Lavrov and all of us.

Pula!