Remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at Africa Day Reception, Moscow, May 25, 2011
Your Excellency Mr. Doyen, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
At the outset, I would like to warmly congratulate all the participants on Africa Day. In accordance with established good tradition we are gathered here on this day, and in accordance with the same good tradition the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, has today sent a congratulatory message to the African Heads of State and Government. I would like to read it out:
"This landmark date for the world community and contemporary international relations symbolizes the desire of Africans for freedom, unity, peace, stability and sustainable development.
"In recent years African countries have been confidently moving ahead on the road to broad reforms and modernization. Much has been done to accelerate growth and to strengthen political, economic and cultural unity on the continent.
"We also note the energetic steps of the African Union and sub-regional associations to ensure peace and security and to build their own peacekeeping capacities. Russia will continue to assist Africa most vigorously in this endeavor.
"However, the present situation in some North African states raises serious concerns. I am sure that it is in the general interest to resolve the crises swiftly and prevent their spread deep into the continent. In our opinion, the key role in identifying ways and methods of such work should belong to the Africans themselves – with the backing of the international community.
"I would like to reiterate that Russia is ready to continue to participate in the provision of comprehensive social and economic assistance to Africa, both at the intergovernmental level and within the framework of existing international formats, primarily through the UN, the G8 and other multilateral forums.
"We are set to expand fruitful ties with African countries. Our strong traditions of friendship and close cooperation provide a solid foundation for this. Today the political dialogue and economic and humanitarian interactions between Russia and African states are gaining new momentum – this allows us to look to the future with optimism. I am convinced that our joint efforts will result in strengthening and diversifying the entire range of mutually beneficial relations, implementing major new projects and making full use of the opportunities opening up here.
"I wish the leaders and peoples of the African states lasting peace, progress and prosperity.
For my part, I would like to add that we indeed meet today at a difficult time for the African continent, but we in Russia are confident that all problems can be solved on the solid groundwork of international law, African unity and solidarity with the African peoples on the part of the friends of Africa. Russia, of course, considers itself one of them.
I am confident that our relations will continue to evolve dynamically. This meets the long-term interests of our countries, those traditions which have taken shape in relations between our country and the African states in recent decades. We are bound by long-running mutual sympathy and by the amassed experience in cooperation. All this makes it possible to look to the future of our relations with confidence and optimism.
In conclusion, I wish you success in your important and responsible work to strengthen friendship and cooperation between our countries, all the best in personal life to you and your loved ones.