Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana
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25 november / 2020

Remarks of H.E. Mr. Victor I. Sibilev, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana and the Official Representative of the Russian Federation to SADC at the farewell meeting with H.E. Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the SADC Executive Se

November 25, 2020

Your Excellency, thank you for receiving me in connection with the completion of my mission as Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana and the Special Representative of the Russian Federation to SADC.

During my mission covered 6 years starting from 2014 which could be characterized as fruitful. Russia and SADC made a big stride in developing mutually beneficial relations by signing on July 27, 2018 Memorandum of Understanding in the Area of Military-Technical Cooperation and on October 23, 2018 Memorandum of Understanding on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation. Besides this, we appreciate your great personal contribution to enhancing the bilateral ties by participating in the first Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum in Sochi on October 23-24, 2019.

We remember that one year ago the both sides, Russia and SADC, planned to make this pivotal event a platform for the further approval and implementation of the draft Roadmaps which were to give impetus to development of the bilateral relations and cooperation between Russia and the SADC Member-States. But the fast and large-scale spread of the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to implement these plans in due time.

In the beginning of this year, if you remember, we discussed the possibility of holding the political consultations stipulated by the Memorandum tentatively scheduled for the 3rd quarter of 2020. Taking into consideration the current status of the pandemic I consider as rational to resume the joint work on the draft Roadmap and hold the political consultations via videoconference at the earliest convenience. The Agenda of these consultations could include the possible measures to be taken in countering the negative effects of the pandemic to the economic and social spheres as well as cooperating in Anti-coronavirus vaccine production.

As far as you know on August 11, 2020 Russia registered the first ever vaccine against COVID-19 – «Sputnik V» which as for today proved to be 95% effective and safe, with two others being tested successfully. Yesterday President V. Putin at the ceremony for presenting foreign ambassadors letters of credence in the Kremlin said that now the most important thing is to ensure mass production in Russia and start a public vaccination campaign.

Over 50 nations have sent requests for the purchase of Sputnik V. The purchase agreements have been signed between Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the leading world pharmaceutical companies from Mexico, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Nepal and Egypt. All deliveries could potentially begin in late 2020 upon the completion of successful trials and registration of the vaccine by regulatory authorities of these countries.

Unfortunately, the production capacity in the Russian Federation will initially be sufficient only to provide Russians with vaccines. That is why it is necessary to launch production in other countries, such as India, Brazil, Israel, to produce enough for the whole world.

Russia is ready to share our experience with all interested states and international agencies. Together with a number of the foreign partners, Russia is working out the issues of launching the production of these vaccines locally at our partners’ production base.

Now the RDIF, which has an exclusive right to produce and supply the vaccine abroad, is continuing to work around the clock to establish partnership with African countries and produce its vaccine at the continent by using the capacity of local companies. If any member state of SADC sends the Russian side the respective request the Russian Direct Investment Fund would be ready to discuss the terms of partnership.

It should be also mentioned that in April 2020 the Russian Government aimed at fostering Russia-Africa cooperation made a decision to establish in the structure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the standing Secretariat of the Russia-Africa Partnership Forum. The other body the Association of Economic Cooperation with African States was recently set up as a mechanism designed to foster economic ties and cooperation. In this regard I propose you as the Executive Secretary of SADC Secretariat and through you the other Member States to get in touch with these organizations for setting up direct cooperation links.

Thank you.