Speech of the Russian Ambassador Victor Sibilev on the occasion of Russia’s Diplomacy Day, February 9, 2018
Honourable Gladys Kokorwe, Speaker of the National Assembly,
Honourable Biggie Butale, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Indusrty,
Honourable Kefentse Mzwinila, Assistant Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development,
Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community,
Your Excellency Jose Agostinho Neto, Dean of the Diplomatic corps,
Ambassadors, Heads and members of Diplomatic missions and International Organizations,
Representatives of the esteemed Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Senior Government officials here present,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome you all today at this friendly meeting on the occasion of the Russian Diplomacy Day. It was established by a Presidential Decree in 2002 to commemorate the founding of the Russian Diplomatic Service in 1549 and is 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. In 2017, Russian diplomacy addressed multidimensional tasks to ensure national security and create a favourable environment for progressive development. Russia maintained an independent foreign policy, promoted a unifying agenda, and proposed constructive solutions to international problems and conflicts. It developed mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and played an active role in the work of the UN, multilateral organisations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the OSCE, and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. Among other things, Russian policy has sought to prevent the destabilisation of international relations, and this responsible policy has met with broad understanding in the world. Together with other constructive actors in the international community, we tried to prevent the degradation of the international system that is badly out of balance today.
Russia's active involvement in resolving conflict in Syria contributed to the elimination of the main forces of the Islamic State terrorist group in that country and the formation of prerequisites for a political settlement of this conflict under the aegis of the United Nations. In conjunction with Iran and Turkey, Russia acted as the guarantor of the ceasefire agreements between the government forces and the armed opposition, and worked out the parameters for holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress with the participation of a wide range of representatives of the Syrian people. This Congress was held in Sochi, Russia on January 30, 2018 to become the most significant event during the seven years of the Syrian conflict. More than 1500 Congress participants have approved a statement that sets out the main principles of Syria’s government based on international law and an inclusive political process. They agreed to form a Constitutional Committee comprising the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic delegation along with wide-represented opposition delegations for drafting of a constitutional reform as a contribution to the political settlement under the UN auspices and its resolution 2254.
The Russian Federation pursued a constructive policy in efforts to settle the intra-Ukrainian conflict by way of implementing the Minsk Agreements. In September, the President of Russia proposed deploying a UN mission in that region in order to protect OSCE Special Monitoring Mission observers. In December, Russia facilitated a prisoner exchange between Ukraine, the Donetsk Republic and the Lugansk Republic.
Our country met its commitments in the sphere of supporting Weapons Mass Destruction nonproliferation regimes. The process of liquidating Russia’s stockpiles of chemical weapons has been completed.
The threat of terrorism is a current global challenge also for the Russian diplomacy that should be jointly addressed by the international community coordinated under the UN auspices and based on due respect for the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions, principles and norms of international law. In this context, the emphasis should be placed on preventing terrorism, countering the spread of ideology of extremism and violence, the use of information space including the Internet to these ends. Therefore, a draft UN Convention on Cooperation in Combating Cybercrime was developed by Russia.
II. Russia is closely cooperating with the African Union in the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and organised crime, as well as in trying to settle conflicts in Africa. According to our consistent position on crises in Africa, the Africans themselves should find solutions to their problems.
We believe that the international community, primarily the UN Security Council, should support the agreements that have been drafted with the mediation of the African Union and other African organisations, and that it should provide political, moral and material assistance to their implementation. We are helping our African friends strengthen their capability to resist threats and settle conflicts by training police, peacekeepers and defence personnel for them. Russia is among the top ten contributors to the peacekeeping budget of the UN and will further increase its practical contribution to UN peacekeeping operations.
III. Moscow and Gaborone cooperate to deepen their political dialogue and step up mutually beneficial ties in the trade, economic, humanitarian and other spheres, based on the firm foundations of traditional friendship between Russia and Botswana. We are developing high-level and top-level political dialogue, promoting inter-parliamentary contacts and expanding cooperation between foreign ministries. Last year in May Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation Mr. Thuso Ramodimoosi visited Moscow to hold inter-ministerial consultations with Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Special Presidential Envoy for Middle East and African countries Mr. Mikhail Bogdanov. There were a number of Botswana high-level delegations participating in important international events held in Russia, namely the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students, the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the 8th International Meeting of High Representatives Responsible for Security Issues and the first global ministerial conference Ending Tuberculosis in the Sustainable Development Era: a Multisectoral Response.
This year we are looking forward to the FIFA World Cup to be held in June-July in Russia. 12 stadiums in 11 cities across the European part of Russia will host matches of the tournament. We hope that Russia will offer international visitors the most dynamic possible experience of the World Cup. Spectators, athletes and officials will enjoy a rich and varied experience amid the unique geography and diverse cultures of the host cities.
At today’s cocktail, there are a lot of fellow diplomats - officers of the Ministry of International Affairs, ambassadors and colleagues. Using this opportunity, I would like to sincerely wish you success in fulfilling your professional duties; and personally You, Madam Speaker, since we know of your vast diplomatic experience.
Distinguished guests, allow me to propose a toast to the sound health and long life of His Excellency Lt. Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the President of the Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, as well Heads of Foreign Ministries Honourable Dr. Venson-Moitoi and Mr. Sergey Lavrov.