Speech of the Russian Ambassador Victor Sibilev on the occasion of Russia’s Diplomacy Day
Honourable Dr. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Honourable Dr. Unity Dow, Minister of Education and Skills Development,
Esteemed former Foreign Ministers of Botswana Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe and Mr. Phandu Skelemani,
Your Excellency Thomas Mandigora, Vice 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.
Since then Russian diplomatic service has undergone serious transformation to be able to address emerging challenges and deal with new tasks. Established in 1802, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has upheld national interests at every turning point of Russian and world history. As an example, our diplomacy made crucial contributions to the strengthening of the anti-Hitler coalition during World War II and creation of the United Nations, bolstered the UN authority in governing international relations, fought for peace and disarmament.
Today 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.
In modern globalizing community of nations, it is untenable to prevail single-handedly over serious threats and challenges. Therefore it is crucial for us to instill unequivocal adherence by all governments to the UN Charter and international law as a whole, carry out diplomatic responsibilities devoid of bias and double standards. Guided by such collective approach and taking into consideration interests of all global players, a lot was done in the previous year, such as the settlement of the Iranian nuclear program, completion of chemical demilitarization of Syria; a crucial document on climate change was adopted at COP-21 Conference in Paris. However a lot of problems, especially armed conflicts, remain. Hopefully, common sense will prevail, the world community will draw right conclusions and will act in a fair, respectful manner, recognizing the central role of the UN.
A diplomat of our times is quite different from the one of the past centuries. Modern diplomacy has become by far diverse and dynamic and demands a wider range of knowledge in various fields. But the best fundamental traditions of the diplomats are still going strong, and among them – high professional culture, profound knowledge of international relations, commitment to their own country and respect for foreign nations and cultures. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our diplomatic colleagues here in Botswana for close cooperation and rapport.
I am pleased to note that the relations between Russia and Botswana have always been on a friendly and cordial footing. Last year we celebrated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Since 1970 when official ties between our countries were established the Soviet Union, and then the Russian Federation, has become Botswana’s friend and partner. Recently they have seen a boost in number of areas: professional training, healthcare, law-enforcement, parliamentary ties. Diplomatic and political dialogue is manifested in the exchange of messages and regular consultations between our Foreign Ministries. Both countries have close or similar positions on many issues of regional and international agenda.
What brings our countries closer is the common commitment towards ensuring stability and security, sustainable development and establishment of fair international trade relations. 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.
Since in both Botswana and Russia foreign policy is guided by heads of state – the Presidents, with foreign ministries playing a key role in implementing decisions and putting them into life, allow me to propose a toast to the sound health and long life of His Excellency Lt. Gen. 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.