Transcript of Remarks by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at the Reception on the Occasion of Africa Day, Moscow, 27, 2009
Esteemed Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I cordially congratulate all those present on Africa Day. The anniversary of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity is traditionally perceived in Russia as a symbol of friendship between the Russian and African peoples and of solidarity and mutual cooperation.
I would especially like to address words of greetings to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Mali. The timing of your visit to Moscow has coincided with this holiday being celebrated, and it gives us great pleasure to see you today at our annual reception.
In accordance with the good tradition President Dmitry Medvedev has sent a congratulatory message to heads of African states. It points out the active role of Africa in dealing with the key problems of our time, stresses the willingness of Russia to participate in rendering international assistance to the continent and reaffirms its focus on the further development of many-sided cooperation. Commemorative events for this date are being held in Russian state institutions and public organizations and in our embassies in African countries during these days.
Our cooperation with the African region is consecutively evolving. At the base of our line on building a partnership with Africa lie the time-tested principles of equality and mutual respect. The mutual disposition to bolster ties in the most diverse fields along with the readiness to collaborate in the creation of a new democratic and fair world pattern invariably manifest themselves during our contacts at the highest level and my meetings with my counterparts – ministers of foreign affairs of African states. Over the recent period I have had such contacts with the ministers of foreign affairs of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and today with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Mali, Mr. Moctar Ouane.
The widening political dialogue with Africa embraces such key issues as ensuring global stability, and strengthening international law and the central role of the UN in countering global threats and challenges by collective methods. We always meet with understanding and support to Russian initiatives from African countries, and in our turn reciprocate them and invariably support the fair approaches of Africa toward solution of the burning problems of concern to it.
Strengthening the traditionally friendly relations with African states and expanding many-sided cooperation with them remains a priority in Russian foreign policy. It is obvious that today as never before the imparting of additional stimuli to the expansion of economic and trade ties acquires special significance. The volume of trade over the past year grew noticeably to over 8.2 billion dollars. It is important that the present global financial and economic crisis should not have too adverse an impact upon our collaboration and that we should exert efforts to minimize the consequences of the crisis together. I think that the plans that have been drawn up by large Russian companies for implementing mutually advantageous projects on the continent will help to do it.
We invariably stand for increasing the effectiveness of the assistance being rendered to Africa by the international community. We intend to continue to actively participate in coordinated actions to provide comprehensive support for Africa's countries, particularly under the auspices of the UN and its specialized agencies, in the G8 framework and on a bilateral basis.
We evaluate highly the consistent line on deepening political and economic integration in the framework of the African Union and different sub-regional associations, which is an important prerequisite for Africa's taking the path of sustainable development and the creation of conditions enabling the Africans themselves with support from the world community to settle the lingering conflicts and crises on their continent. For our part we stand ready for the further expansion of cooperation in the most diverse fields, including the security sphere and crisis settlement. We have substantially – to 400 persons annually – increased the number of African peacekeepers training in Russia. We take part in all UN peacekeeping operations in the region.
Overall, the training of personnel both for law enforcement and peacekeeping agencies in Africa and for civilian sectors is an important sphere of our cooperation. Annually about 750 state scholarships are allocated to the continent's countries for training in Russian tertiary education institutions in the most diverse specialties. We will work on increasing this number.
I am convinced that Russian-African relations will continue to be steadily developed. A guarantee of success is our common history, the decades of cooperation in the economy and in international affairs and in the humanitarian sphere, as well as the initiatives which are especially required at this stage, the search for contemporary mechanisms of interaction, and the streamlining of the juridical base with a view to bringing it into a state adequate to the demands of our time.
I would like to once again wish you, in your person the leaderships of your states and the peoples of African countries a happy holiday and success on the road to development, prosperity and the well-being of your peoples and the families of all those present.
May 28, 2009