Address by Ambassador Victor I. Sibilev on the occasion of 40th anniversary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana, August 25, 2016
Honourable Guest of Honour
Esteemed former Foreign Minister of Botswana
Mr. Phandu Skelemani,
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!
Allow me to welcome you at this friendly meeting in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Embassy of Russia in Botswana.
Our two countries enjoy longstanding ties of friendship, mutual respect and cooperation. Diplomatic relations were established in 1970 after the exchange of notes between the Embassy of the Soviet Union and the High Commission of Botswana in London. Soviet Ambassador to Zambia Dmitry Belokoloswas accredited to Botswana. Several years later the Soviet Government resolved to establish a permanent mission in Gaborone. 1970s was the time when the USSR was actively engaging in African affairs aiming to assist young African nations in their developmental efforts as well as in their aspiration to eliminate the remnants of colonialism and apartheid.
In January 1975 the Government of the Republic of Botswana accepted the request from the Soviet Union to establish an Embassy in Gaborone. In August 1976 the first operational team arrived in Gaborone to prepare opening the Embassy. In September 1976, Charge d’Affiars Mr.Markov presented credential letters to H.E. Seretse Khama, first President of the Republic. The Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic in the Republic of Botswana was officially opened to become one of the few foreign diplomatic missions in Gaborone at the time. Mr. Mikhail Petrov was the first residential Soviet ambassador to Botswana.
The Embassy has been playing a key role in maintaining burgeoning relations between Russia and Botswana. Over time, our bilateral ties have become more solid and diverse.
I have the honour to be the 9th Russian ambassador to Botswana and I am confident that we will preserve and multiply our predecessors’ achievements.
Russia will remain focused on humanitarian assistance to African nations that are suffering from crises, armed conflicts, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. Russia will continue supporting Africa in all of these areas, both bilaterally and multilaterally, including the discussion of African issues in the UN, the G20 and BRICS.Russia shares the view that problems of Africans should be solved by Africans themselves without imposing ready-made decisions from abroad or thoughtless copying of extraneous political and economic models.
The ties between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Botswana are gradually getting stronger. The Russian Federation positively considers the continuity of political dialogue with Botswana, which is appraised as one of successfully developing countries in Africa with a stable internal situation and dynamic economy. What brings our countries closer is the common commitment towards ensuring stability and security, sustainable development and international peace.
We have been witnessing the invigoration of our inter-parliamentary cooperation. In 2015, Speaker of the National Assembly Honourable Gladys Kokorwe took part in the Eurasian Women's Forum held in St. Petersburg at the invitation of the Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matvienko. To strengthen these ties, we are planning to conclude an agreement on inter-parliamentary cooperation shortly.
The Russian Federation cooperates with Botswana in defense, law enforcement, training specialists for healthcare and development of mine workings.
The Embassy makes efforts to enhance links between private businesses of the two countries. Together with our partners we organized a Russia-Botswana business forum last year, which gathered representatives of seven Russian companies, including such majors as Alrosa, Gazprombank and Rostec.Alrosa in cooperation with British-owned company Botswana Diamond have been successfully involved into geological exploration in areas of Orapa and Gope.
Russia continues to lend support to Botswana Police Service, mainly through provision of sponsorship for short-term skills development courses and programmes of higher education.
The Russian Government annually allocates scholarships to high-achieving Botswana students to receive higher education. At the same time, more than three hundred Batswanas are studying in Russia on medical, engineering, economic and humanities specialities. Honourable Unity Dow, the Minister of Education and Skills Development visited Russia in June and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Ministry of Education and Science that became a trigger for extending Botswana’s scholarship quote up to 29 for this year.
As Botswana proudly celebrates 50 years of independence, I hope that our today’s occasion will add to the festive spirit, which is already thick in the air.
“Rome was not built in a day”, it is said. But looking back one can see that Botswana and Russia have already walked a long path together. And certainly much more awaits us in the future. Let us continue working together to raise the edifice of our friendship for the benefit of the peoples of Russia and Botswana.
I would like in conclusion to propose a toast to the health and long life of Their Excellencies Lt.-Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, and Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, to everlasting friendship and good relations between Russia and Botswana, to the universal peace and prosperity.