Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to media questions at a joint news conference following talks with Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community Louise Mushikiwabo, Kigali, June 3, 2018
My dear Louise,
We are grateful for the warm reception and effective organisation of our work here.
The meeting we had with President of Rwanda Paul Kagame in the morning and the talks we held with you, Madam Minister, have confirmed that relations between Russia and Rwanda have good potential in all spheres.
Rwanda is a good partner of Russia. In October, we will mark the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. We attach much significance to this memorable date.
Our trade and economic ties, which have been modest, are developing rapidly and have good potential. Our countries are interested in boosting cooperation in exploration, mining, agriculture and medicine, as well as in the humanitarian sphere, including the training of personnel. We are already implementing projects in a number of areas, and we also intend to take practical steps with regard to our framework agreements, in particular, on cooperation in civilian nuclear projects. We agree that other countries of the East African Community can be involved in many of our cooperative projects in exploration, mining and infrastructure. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community Louise Mushikiwabo has indicated her interest in this.
We are satisfied with the development of our military and technical cooperation, which has a good past and a bright future.
We have agreed to continue our close collaboration at the UN, which is to our mutual satisfaction, and we have also coordinated our further steps to promote the settlement of a number of conflicts in Africa.
Russia believes that Africa is a major pillar in the polycentric world order, which is replacing the bipolar and unipolar world systems. We believe the main goal of the ongoing discussions on reforming the UN Security Council is to ensure that the developing regions of the world – Asia, Africa and Latin America – are more fairly represented in this global organisation.
As for African problems, I would like to say that this year Rwanda chairs the African Union and is hence interested in promoting fundamentally new approaches based on the need for Africans themselves to coordinate inclusive solutions to crises that will preclude any recurrence of ethnic or religious strife.
We believe that Rwanda, with its experience of dealing with the consequences of a nationwide tragedy that hit the country 25 years ago, knows how to ensure national accord and sustainable development with the involvement of all ethnic groups living in the country and it can therefore help promote these principles throughout Africa.
We praised Rwanda’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations. There are 6,500 Rwandans in these peacekeeping organisations, the fifth largest group in the world. It is generally known that Rwandan peacekeepers are among the most efficient and orderly.
We agreed to continue the cooperation between our law enforcement and security services, primarily in the fight against terrorism, which has unfortunately taken root in Africa as well.
Overall, I believe that we had very useful talks. We reaffirmed our readiness to continue to build up our cooperation based on mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests.
Question: What are Russia’s main areas for cooperation with the African Union?
Sergey Lavrov: We have long-standing ties with the African Union, and we maintain regular contact with AU leadership. I visited AU headquarters in Addis Ababa last December. We discussed a wide range of cooperation prospects, from political dialogue to potential economic projects.
Several hundred Africans are studying in Russia for law enforcement careers within the framework of our cooperation with the African Union, and about a hundred of them are learning peacekeeping skills. It is our direct contribution to the strengthening of the peace and security mechanism created by the African Union.
We also proposed that our AU colleagues send the staff of its Addis Ababa headquarters to diplomatic courses at the Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy in Moscow.
We have agreed to prepare a framework political document that will set out a concept for cooperation in the next few years and also several practical projects for implementation in the near future. We are now preparing for a meeting of Russian and AU experts.
We invited the AU to join the International Counterterrorism Database, which the FSB created several years ago to collect information about foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). Some 50 countries and organisations are using it. AU’s joining this database would help monitor the cross-border movement of these terrorist fighters.
Our Interior Ministry is developing ties with Afripol within the framework of security cooperation.
Today we also discussed Russia’s idea of holding a large African Union business forum with AU member states and Russia to be attended by entrepreneurs and politicians, possibly next year.
Question: How would you describe the future of military and technical cooperation between Russia and Rwanda? Do you have any practical plans regarding this?
Sergey Lavrov: We maintain positive military and technical cooperation. Rwandan security services, army and law enforcement agencies are equipped with Russian helicopters and Ural vehicles. We also supply small arms and are discussing the possibility of delivering air defence systems to Rwanda.
Last year we established an intergovernmental commission on military and technical cooperation, which held its first meeting in Kigali last autumn. A second meeting is scheduled to be held in Moscow this autumn.
Question: What do you think about the African countries’ idea that they must have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council?
Sergey Lavrov: I can only repeat what I said in my opening remarks. We believe that any reform of the UN Security Council must seek to correct the injustice with regard to developing countries. Any reform proposed as a priority must aim to increase the representation of the Asian, African and Latin American countries.