Speech of the Russian Ambassador Victor Sibilev on the occasion of Russia’s Diplomacy Day, February 10, 2017
Honourable Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
HonourableKgosi Puso Gaborone, Chairman of the House of Chiefs,
Mr. Kagiso Molatlhegi, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly,
Honourable Mr. Dikgang Makgalemele, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness,
Ms. Botlogile Mogogo Tshireletso, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development,
Lieutenant-General Placid Segokgo, Commander of Botswana Defence Force,
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 International Affairs and Cooperation,
Senior Government officials here present,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I cordially welcome You at the celebration of the Russian Diplomacy Day. This professional holiday was established by a Presidential Decree in 2002 to commemorate the founding of the Russian Diplomatic Service and is marked every year on February10.
The date itself is closely associated with the history of Russia’s first diplomatic office – the Ambassadorial Department (or “Posolsky Prikaz” in the Russian language), which was first mentioned in official chronicles on February 10, 1549. In early 18th century this organ was transformed into the Collegium of Foreign Affairs as part of an administrative reform by Tsar Peter the Great. Since then Russia joined the ranks of great European powers, which set new tasks and challenges for the diplomatic service. In 1802, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was established by manifesto of Emperor Alexander I. Thus, today the Ministry has celebrated its 215th anniversary.
Nowadays the Russian diplomacy plays a significant role within the UN, G20, BRICS, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and other world and regional forums and associations, promotes ties of friendship and cooperation with other states.
The main characteristic feature of the current international relations is deep shifts in geopolitical landscape, triggered by previous global financial and economic crisis. International relations are undergoing a transitional period with a new polycentric international system emerging. In this context, Russia strives to uniteefforts of the international community on the basic principles of international law and central role of the UN.
Last year the world did not see any reduction in threats. I am referring above all to the threat of international terrorism, which has affected residents of Europe (Belgium, France, Germany), the Middle East, Asia, USA and Canada. As a result of a heinous terrorist attack, we lost our ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov. And I would like to thank all those who conveyed their condolences to the Embassy. Terrorism has become a genuinely systemic problem. Speaking last year at the UN General Assembly, President Vladimir Putin urged the international community to form a united universal antiterrorist coalition with a global scope. Such a front should be coordinated by the UN basing on international legal norms and without double standards that are often used in the anti-terrorist sphere. We strongly condemn terrorist attacks of radical groups in the Middle East and Horn of Africa.
For Russian Federation it is imperative to continue focusing on settling crises through preventive diplomacy and mediation with due respect for sovereignty of states, without mentoring from outside, and also on the basis of an extensive nation-wide dialogue. This is what Russia is now trying to achieve in Syria. As you well know, we streamline our efforts with our partners on successful conduct of negotiations between the Syrian Government and opposition, which were held on January 26 and February 6 in Astana, Kazakhstan and, hopefully, will continue in Geneva. What is important to underline is that in Astana the participants managed to strengthen the cessation of combat operations in accordance with the Agreement December 29, 2016 and started process of political settlement in line with the UN SC resolution 2254.
Russia supportsefforts to reach a diplomatic settlement of crises and conflicts in the Sahara-Sahel region of Africa, namely in South Sudan, Darfur, DR Congo,Somalia, Mali, and other political hotspots on the continent.
The role of international regional organisations is important in this regard. We were closely following the events in the run-up to the 27th Summit of the African Union in Addis-Ababa and pinned our hopes for Honourable Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi as a candidate for thechairmanship of the African Union Commission. Participation in the election campaign was a bold and commendable decision on the part of Botswana.
We truly support the principle“To African problems - African solutions” promoted by the African community. We are in favour of consolidated and realistic African position not only in relation to the UN reform, but to the whole range of issues on the African agenda. It is important, from the Russian perspective, that all non-permanent African members of the UN Security Council follow a coherent policy.
We positively consider continuity of political dialogue with Botswana, which is appraised in Moscow as one of successfully developing countries in Africa with a stable political situation and dynamic economy.In accordance with the Protocol signed in 2002, we regularly hold political consultations between Foreign Ministries of Russia and Botswana.
I am pleased to inform you that a group of Botswana diplomatic officers received training at skills development courses at the Diplomatic Academy in Moscow in May-June 2016, and we hope that this practice will continue. Furthermore, the Russian Government has recently increased the quota of scholarships allocated to high-achieving Botswana students for higher education up to 30. I am more than happy that at present 14 Botswana students are receiving their education on the speciality of international relations in various universities around the country, and hopefully in future will strengthen our diplomatic community ranks.
I am convinced that the deepening of our partnership following the time-tested traditions of friendship, equality and mutual respect makes our countries stronger, more prosperous and resilient to all sorts of challenges.
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.
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 as Heads of Foreign Ministries Honourable Dr. Venson-Moitoi and Mr. Sergey Lavrov.