Speech of the Russian Ambassador Victor Sibilev on the occasion of Russia’s Diplomacy Day February 7, 2020
Honourable Mr. Kagiso Mmusi, acting Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation and Minister of Defence, Justice and Security of the Republic of Botswana;
Honourable Mr. Phandu T.C. Skelemani, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Botswana;
Honourable Ms Phildah Kereng, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism of the Republic of Botswana
Honourable Mr. Kefentse Mzwinila, Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services of the Republic of Botswana;
Honourable Mr Karabo Gare, Assistant Minister of Investments, Trade and Industry of the Republic of Botswana;
Honourable Mr. Kgosi Puso Gaborone, Chairperson of Ntlo Ya Dikgosi of the Republic of Botswana;
His Worship Mr Thata Father Maphongo, Mayor of Gaborone
Ambassadors, High commissioners, Heads and members of Diplomatic missions and International Organizations,
Senior officers of the esteemed Ministries of the Republic of Botswana,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome all of you today at our traditional friendly meeting on the occasion of the Russian Diplomacy Day which is closely associated with the history of Russia’s first foreign affairs agency – the Ambassadorial Department. It was first mentioned in official chronicles on February 10, 1549. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established in the year of 1802.
I. Outcomes of the Russian Diplomacy in 2019
Russian diplomacy always pursues an independent multi-vector foreign policy and seeks to reduce international tensions. Foreign Minister S. Lavrov in his speech on the outcomes of Russian diplomacy in 2019 noted that the global politics was challenged by lack of trust and the world economy is being aggravated by methods of unfair competition, such as unilateral sanctions, protectionism and trade wars.
Last year Russia focused on the fighting against international terrorism, in particular in Syria, promoting a political process and settling the current humanitarian problems of Syrians, establishment of a truly universal antiterrorist coalition under the auspices of the UN, combatting drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime. The Russian diplomacy has also considerably contributed to efforts to overcome other conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Africa, including in Libya and Yemen, as well as in the Ukraine. To reach the qualitative progress in reducing global tensions in 2020 Russia initiates to hold the UN permanent members’ Summit which is to become the platform for a wide discussion of global challenges.
This year the two major anniversaries occur: the 75th anniversary of the Victory in World War II as well as the 75th anniversary of establishing the UN. Russia will continue to do everything possible to combat the falsification of history, to preserve the good reputation of victorious soldiers and to prevent a revision of the internationally recognised results of the defeat of Nazism.
Since January 1, 2020, Russia has chaired BRICS, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and Collective Security Treaty Organisation. During its presidency in BRICS a special attention will be paid to expanding foreign policy coordination, showing more initiatives in the UN, solving global and regional problems. Regarding economic cooperation Russia will work to enhance the New Development Bank and the BRICS Pool of Currency Reserves as well as develop the “outreach” and “BRICS plus” formats to build up a stable circle of partners including African countries with a shared vision on the world future.
II. Touching upon the Russia-Africa relations Africa remains one of the most important partners for Russia. 2019 became an unprecedented year in the history of our relations. On October 23–24, the first Russia-Africa Summit was held in Sochi. It was attended by delegations fr om all 54 African states 45 of which were represented by their heads of state as well as heads of the executive bodies of the African Union and other leading regional organisations, and integration associations in Africa, including SADC Executive Secretary Dr. Stergomena Tax.
At the end, the political Declaration was adopted. It established a completely new dialogue mechanism: the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum, which will be held every three years. Between the summits, the practical issues will be addressed at the annual political consultations between foreign ministers of Russia and the African countries represented by the current, previous and future chairs of the African Union.
Cooperation with African countries is developing in all areas. The most important of them include combatting terrorism, extremism, cross-border crime and drug trafficking, as well as developing military-technical and military cooperation. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia makes a significant contribution to adopting practical measures to define the status and mandates of peacekeeping operations based on the African solutions to African problems principle.
The large Economic Forum was held together with the Summit. An important package of commercial documents, including over 50 contracts worth about 15.5 billion dollars was signed on the sidelines of the Forum. The main task is to double trade with the continent in the next several years. Russian economic agents are successfully operating in Africa in such areas as the oil and gas industry, geological exploration, extraction of raw materials, agriculture, fishery and high technologies. Over 17 thousand African students are studying in Russia now.
III. Particularly, Russia and Botswana have developed long-standing friendly relations. This year in March the two sides will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations. The cooperation between our countries covers such fields as diplomacy, education, health, trade, mining and defence.
Last year the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana Dr. U.Dow visited Russia to participate in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Mr. S.Lavrov at its sidelines. On June 6, 2019, they signed the intergovernmental Agreement on the Exemption of the Visa Requirements for the Nationals of the Russian Federation and the Nationals of the Republic of Botswana which became one of the main events of our bilateral relation. Minister S. Lavrov noted that this Agreement is of paramount importance for expanding business trips and touristic exchanges as well as contacts from people to people
In 2019 Russia continued to make a significant contribution to the Botswana human resources development in different areas such as mining, engineering, medicine, IT, law enforcement and others. Around 60 students went to Russia for studying at our universities both on the scholarships of the Russian Government and on the contract basis with several police officers conducting short-term advanced training courses and getting full education. Moreover, the Embassy did its best to give young politicians and diplomats the chance to establish contacts with their Russian partners within the programme “New Generation”.
We hope to reach new achievements in 2020, first of all, in implementing the outcomes of the “Russia-Africa” Summit, especially in the spheres of trade, industry and investment, as well as the close cooperation within the framework of the Kimberley process wh ere Russia and Botswana are the Chair and Vice-Chair respectively.
At today’s friendly meeting, I see a lot of people related to diplomatic service, hope to share this bright moment with you all and use this opportunity as the Russian Ambassador and the Dean of diplomatic corps, to sincerely wish everybody success in the future endeavours.
Distinguished guests, in conclusion, 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, and all of those here present.