Speech by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the reception on the occasion of Africa Day, Moscow, 22 May 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to congratulate all those, who are present here, primarily our African friends, on the approaching holiday – Africa Day. According to tradition, on this day the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, sends welcome letters to heads of African states.
The anniversary of the creation of the Organisation of African Unity, the successor of which is the African Union (AU), symbolises the aspiration of African people to peace, stability and welfare. Our country consistently supported liberation of the continent from colonial rule, provided all kinds of assistance in establishing young African states. It is in those times, when strong foundations of Russian-African relations were laid, which are based on principles of friendship, equality, trust, taking account of each other's interests.
Today, Africa has settled down to a course of complex modernisation and economic growth. We note with satisfaction that significant changes for the good have taken place in many states of the region lately, in various sectors. The authority and influence of Africans in world policy and economics is growing , in resolution of topical modern problems. The African Union, which is an effective mechanism for multilateral political, economic and humanitarian cooperation in the continent, is playing a more prominent role.
We support the reinforcement of Africa's positions in the process of the formation of a new polycentric system of the world order, which should be based on international law, respect for independence and individuality of peoples and their right to determine their fate for themselves. We welcome the consistent course to deepening of political and economic integration within the AU, SADC, ECOWAS and other sub-regional associations. We view these steps as important components of the outcome of the states of the continent for the course of continuing sustainable development.
It is evident that convincing advancement on the track of social and economic progress is impossible without ensuring true security in the region. To that end, we are concerned about the worsening of the situation in several countries of the continent, including Libya, CAR, DRC, South Sudan and others. I am convinced it is in everybodys' interest that these conflicts are settled as soon as possible and do not spread to neighbouring states.
Russia as permanent member of the UN Security Council, partner of the AU and other sub-regional organisations in Africa, makes a considerable contribution to the support of stability in the continent, including by participating in UN peacekeeping operations. We will further assist efforts of the African Union to develop foundations for collective security and create their own peacekeeping potential.
We will continue to assist states of the continent in other areas both bilaterally and within multilateral formats. As it is known, Russia has written off over 20 billion US dollar debt of African states. We are undertaking steps to further ease the debt burden of Africans, including through conclusion of agreements based on the scheme "debt in exchange for development".
This April the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, approved the new State policy concept of the Russian Federation in the area of contribution to international development. Its practical implementation will contribute to the build-up of our participation in the area of assistance to the development of states of the African continent.
Trade and economic cooperation, including the implementation of mutually beneficial investment projects, is being extended. Growing numbers of Russian companies are becoming aware of the prospects, which are opening up in the vast African market.
The preparation of staff is an important area of our interaction – over 6,000 African students are studying in Russian higher education establishments. We provide humanitarian assistance to African countries, which are suffering from crisises, military conflicts, natural or man-made disasters.
In general, Russia is firmly committed to further extension of its multifaceted ties with the African region. I am convinced that we will be able to bring them to a new level of quality through our joint efforts.
To end, I would like to congratulate everyone on the approaching holiday – Africa Day – and wish ambassadors and employees of African diplomatic missions in the capital of the Russian Federation fruitful work in favour of reinforcement of our relations of friendship, cooperation and mutual understanding.