Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at Russia-Africa Economic Conference, Moscow, June 20, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
I don’t even know whether I have to add anything after this introduction, but I will do my best.
I am delighted to welcome all the participants to the Russia-Africa Economic Conference, being held during the 26th general meeting of shareholders of the African Export-Import Bank. First of all, I would like to sincerely thank Mr Benedict Oramah for choosing Moscow as the venue for the event of the Bank’s shareholders. To the best of my knowledge, this is only the second time that the African Export-Import Bank is holding this event outside the African continent.
We perceive this as evidence of the high level of trust between Russia and African states. We maintain traditionally friendly relations that are based on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests. Russia has never been involved in colonial wars in the region, nor did it barbarically plunder Africa’s resources. On the contrary, Russia has invariably opposed various manifestations of racialism and provided all kinds of support to the African peoples in their struggle against colonialism. After they became independent, Russia helped them assert and strengthen their statehood and develop their national economies.
Today, the African states are our important international partners in defending the values of truth and justice on the international scene, strict compliance with the norms of international law, respect for every nation’s civilisational identity and respect for their own development venues. Our states oppose unilateral sanctions, coercion measures and trade wars. They consistently advocate an equitable world trade system, noting that all countries without exception, rather than a narrow group of states, should be able to reap the fruits of globalisation.
While relying on the long-time accumulated experience of constructive partnership, we are confidently moving along the road of comprehensively expanding Russian-African ties. Political dialogue, including top-level dialogue, has been intensified. Inter-parliamentary ties have become more active; we are expecting numerous African guests to attend the 2nd International Forum on the Development of Parliamentarism and the Russia-Africa Parliamentary Conference, scheduled to be held in Moscow July 1-3, 2019.
Contacts between various ministries and agencies, including those between foreign ministries, are making headway. Russia continues to support its African friends in their fight against terrorism, crime and other trans-border threats via bilateral channels and also as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. We are contributing to efforts to resolve crises and conflicts on the continent under a principle that has been formulated by the African Union and which stipulates African solutions to African problems. At the same time, the international community should support various agreements being drafted by the Africans; it should provide moral, political, financial and material support for them. We provide humanitarian assistance, under international programmes on a bilateral basis, to the continent’s countries suffering as a result of crises and armed conflicts, natural calamities and pandemics. We train African specialists at Russian education institutions of the Russian Defence Ministry, law enforcement agencies and security services at the expense of the state budget. We also train civilian specialists and those for peacekeeping missions.
The solid foundation of Russian-African friendship, which we have created together, provides conditions for building up trade, economic and investment exchanges, as well as cooperation in banking, and for encouraging our business communities to implement mutually beneficial projects in African countries.
We can report our first achievements in this sphere. Mutual trade is growing – it exceeded $20 billion last year – and is becoming ever more diversified. Large projects are being implemented in Africa with direct financial support from Russia. These include the construction of the country’s first nuclear power plant and the establishment of the Russian Industrial Zone in Egypt, as well as the projects that are being implemented in Africa by such leading Russian businesses as Rosneft, Lukoil, Rosgeo, Gazprom, Alrosa, Vi Holding, GPB Global Resources and Renova.
I am confident that cooperation with Afreximbank, which the Russian Export Centre (REC) has joined as a shareholder, will help promote long-term trade and economic relations between Russian businesses and their African partners.
I would also like to mention our close collaboration with many African partners at multilateral economic platforms, including on matters related to the stabilisation of the global hydrocarbons market within the framework of OPEC Plus and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
To give a fresh impetus to our cooperation in all spheres, including in trade and the economy, we have adopted a joint decision to hold the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi in October under the umbrella of President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as the current chair of the African Union (AU). We hope that the heads of state and government from other African countries, as well as the leaders of the AU and other leading subregional organisations will attend this summit.
We are working on the summit agenda together with our African friends. We expect Afreximbank to contribute to the economic part of the agenda, which already looks quite impressive.
This unprecedented, landmark summit is intended to hold discussions on a broad range of international matters and methods to promote Russian-African cooperation in all spheres from politics to culture. There are plans for signing a number of bilateral and multilateral documents, including interstate and interdepartmental agreements plus trade agreements and contracts, on the sidelines of the summit and at the Russia-Africa Economic Forum to be held ahead of the summit.
On this occasion I would like to urge the respected conference participants to energetically join the upcoming Sochi events.
I would also like to wish you all every success in your work, as well as peace, wellbeing and prosperity to your nations.