Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and responses to media questions at a news conference following talks with Angolan Minister of Foreign Affairs Manuel Domingos Augusto, Luanda, March 5, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank our Angolan hosts for their warm welcome and hospitality.
Our relations that began long before Angola’s independence are truly versatile and full of friendliness, mutual trust and dedication to practical causes.
This could be seen in full today during our conversation with Angolan President Joao Lourenco and during talks at the Angolan Foreign Ministry, involving several key government ministers on the economy and social sphere.
We had an intensive political dialogue, including at the top level. Here, in Luanda, and also recently at Davos, Angolan President Joao Lourenco met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.
Today’s negotiations are an indicator that we stand together or close on international issues within the UN and within other organisations.
We share a commitment to take our economic cooperation to a new level. This is one of the tasks facing the Intergovernmental Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation, which will meet for its fifth session in Moscow later this year.
We are encouraging contact between the business communities of both countries. I am happy to say that last autumn, businesspeople from both countries met under the aegis of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The next meeting will take place this month in Luanda.
We are also developing cooperation in mineral resources. Good prospects are taking shape in the oil and gas sector, and also we have ambitious plans to develop high-tech industries, including space and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Considering the Angolan government’s plans, we are putting particular emphasis on the gas sector. We have invited our Angolan friends to join the successfully operating Gas Exporting Countries’ Forum.
During our today’s talks with Education Minister Maria Cândida Teixeira at the Angolan Foreign Ministry, we discussed the need for building up contacts in education and their strategic development. Both sides are undoubtedly interested in this.
Another traditionally stable and developing area of our cooperation is military-technical cooperation. The current situation and prospects will be considered this year at the next meeting of the Russian-Angolan Intergovernmental Committee for Military and Technical Cooperation.
Let me once again express gratitude to our Angolan friends for their tribute to those citizens of our country who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of the Republic of Angola. Today, before flying out of Luanda, we will visit our Embassy and unveil a memorial headstone in memory of those who fought for an independent Angola.
In conclusion, I invited Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Domingos Augusto to pay a return visit to the Russian Federation.
Question: Has Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to Angolan President Joao Lourenco been confirmed? Do you know the dates of the visit? How is our AngoSat satellite project proceeding?
Sergey Lavrov: The satellite is on the geostationary orbit and undergoing technical tests. In April, it will reach a point when together with Angolan specialists we will be able to decide how we are going to develop the project further.
As for the invitation for President Joao Lourenco, President Vladimir Putin extended this invitation shortly after the Angolan president was elected. Recently, President Putin confirmed in public that a visit was in the plans. The timeframe remains to be coordinated, as we agreed today.
Question: You said some Russian companies want to invest in Angola. What are these companies, and how are they going to invest?
Sergey Lavrov: There are lots of them. First of all, it is Alrosa, which has long been present here, and VTB Bank also operates in the country. Some companies showed their interest during a meeting organised by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Moscow last autumn. The meeting was attended by top managers of such companies as Rosneft, Zarubezhneft, Gazprom Neft, UralVagonZavod, KAMAZ and others. We have noticed that alongside large business entities, smaller companies are operating quite actively and successfully too. And this is something we welcome. They found their partners here and are successfully implementing joint projects.
Investment is welcome anywhere as long as it is interesting for the Angolan government and can unite the efforts of Russian and Angolan business people and government structures.
Question: The participants in the aforementioned meetings of the Commerce and Industry Chambers highlighted Russia’s role as a strategic partner in the Angola Visao 2025-2050 programme and agreed that the Russian side would have access to all the relevant Angolan ministries involved in the project – from fishing to tourism and defence. Is there any progress on the issue?
Sergey Lavrov: The entire trip is devoted to the work in this direction. As I said, Mr Augusto organised negotiations in the Foreign Ministry today that brought together ministers responsible for the key sectors of the Angolan economy and the programme Angola Visao. I am sure our conversation today was very useful. There is progress, and it is obvious.
Sergey Lavrov (speaking after Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel Augusto’s remarks): I'd like to say a few words on the last subject: our cooperation within the UN. We have been invariably developing our relations with African nations not only in the bilateral format but also within continental alliances: above all, the African Union and the South African Development Community.
We have always come out in favour of African people addressing their problems themselves based on the agreements they achieve, without any external interference. There have been attempts to force things on them. For example, in Sudan, external forces (call them this) insisted on dividing the country and they now do not know what to do about it and how to prevent crises, primarily in South Sudan. We insist that African problems need African solutions, and the international community should respect the Africans’ choice of resolving a conflict, and support them morally, politically and financially in training staff for peacekeeping operations, which Russia has been actively doing.
A graphic example of Africans coming up with useful initiatives is the constructive role Angola plays in resolving conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lesotho. Quite recently, Angola completed its four-year presidency in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. These four years were very successful and kept the situation in check, and created conditions for gradual but steady progress in resolving these problems.