Embassy of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Botswana
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12 june / 2017

Speech of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana Victor I. Sibilev at the reception on the occasion of Russia Day

Gaborone, June 12, 2017

Honourable Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Botswana,

Honourable Kagiso Molatlhegi, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly,

Honourable Botlogile Tshireletso, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development,

Honourable Biggie Butale, Assistant Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry

Esteemed former Foreign Minister Mr. Phandu Skelemani,

Your Excellency. Jose Agostinho Neto, Dean of the Diplomatic corps,

Your Excellences, Heads of diplomatic missions and international organizations, senior government officials, captains of industry and dear Russian compatriots,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen!

Russia Day is a rather young national holiday of the Russian Federation, which has been celebrated since 2002. Over the years, Russia has clearly defined its national interests, declared them and steadfastly defended them. We look ahead with confidence and set strategic objectives.

Despite certain economic hardships and the regime of sanctions illegally imposed by the Western countries, such a situation has given an impetus to the diversification of Russia’s economy and development of import substitution industries. This is our main task for the foreseeable future. According to the forecast of Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, the GDP is expected to grow by 2% in 2017 and reach global average increase in subsequent years with the inflation rate of 4%. According to the IMF Director Christine Lagarde, Russia has managed to invent adequate anti-crisis management due to global fall of oil prices. Russia is the 6th economy in the world. On June 1-3, 2017 the 21st Petersburger International Economic Forum was successfully held with participation of 14000 guests, more than 700 companies from 143 countries of the world. Participants signed 386 investment contracts for the total sum of $ 32 bln. Speaking at the Forum, President of Russia Vladimir Putin called upon all countries to jointly tackle important strategic issues of global development, including those in the fields of world economy, climate change, security, and fight against terrorism.

Russia conducts an assertive and independent foreign policy guided by its national interests and based on unconditional respect for international law. As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia is fully aware of its responsibility to support peace and security in the world both at the global and regional levels and is committed to working with all interested States to address common challenges.

Russia’s consistently friendly partnership relations with African states have stood the test of time and continue developing. President Vladimir Putin recently sent his traditional message of greetings to the heads of African states and governments on the occasion of Africa Day. He praised the successes of African countries in diverse spheres, as well as Africa’s growing role in forming a fair and democratic multipolar international order.

Russia is interested in developing cooperation with the African Union and other African associations, including SADC, and values our regular political consultations with their leaders. Our country is in favour of deepening the BRICS-Africa dialogue that was launched in Durban in 2013 and ready to broaden the cooperation in fighting international terrorism, extremism, drug trafficking and piracy.

The Russian Federation supports the principle that African problems require African solutions. African countries know better than anyone else how to overcome difficulties on the path to peace, stability and sustainable development. Humanitarian aid to African states from Russia will continue, including as part of the UN and the G20, especially to those countries that have fallen victim to conflicts, natural and man-made disasters and pandemics. The start of dialogue between the African Union Commission and the Commission of the Eurasian Economic Union is a new undertaking, which is extensive and ambitious.

We are developing high-level and top-level political dialogue, promoting our inter-parliamentary ties and expanding cooperation between foreign ministries. This year alone Moscow played host to the foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Zambia, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Eritrea. Following the talks, the sides confirmed that their positions align on most international issues and ways of addressing security challenges and threats.

This 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.

Together with our Botswana partners we have developed several MoUs and Agreements which facilitate and contribute to our cooperation in the fields of education, healthcare, environmental protection, visa-free regime and others.

Russia engages in training Botswana specialists, including such areas as law-enforcement, health and education under the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Minister Unity Dow in Moscow in June 2016. Both sides have increased the quota of government scholarships annually allocated to Batswana up to 30. At present, around 300 Botswana students are studying at many Russian universities, both on state-sponsored and commercial basis. 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.

Given the leading positions of Russia and Botswana in the extraction and production of diamonds (54% of the world production), there are broad prospects for bilateral cooperation with the Joint-Stock Company "Alrosa". The Russian corporation has been working with the British diamond company «Botswana Diamonds» through a joint venture for the third year now. A large state corporation Rostec can be considered one of the perspective investment partners in such areas as engineering, IT, biotechnologies and others.

One of the lines of activity pursued by the Embassy of Russia is cultural diplomacy. We try to use every opportunity to familiarize local public with cultural riches of our country. This August we expect another Russian ballet company to give a performance in Gaborone within their tour of Southern Africa. The performance will be devoted to the memory of famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nuriev.

I am convinced that the deepening of Russia-Botswana 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.

In conclusion I would like to propose a toast to the health and long life of Their Excellencies Lt.-Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, the President of the Republic of Botswana, and Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, the happiness and well-being of the people of this beautiful country, to friendship and good relations between Russia and Botswana, to the international peace and security.