Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a reception devoted to Africa Day, Moscow, May 30, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are happy to welcome you at our annual reception on the occasion of Africa Day.
By tradition, Russian President Vladimir Putin sends messages of greetings on May 25 (as he did this year as well), where he expresses the value he places on the socio-economic transformations in Africa, notes its growing role in resolving the urgent issues of our time and reaffirms Russia’s intention to continue promoting friendship and cooperation with African countries.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union, in 1963. This date became a landmark in the efforts of African states to assert themselves as full-fledged participants in the region’s positive socio-economic and political processes. It is common knowledge that Russia has invariably supported the freedom of African nations and has helped them in their devoted struggle for independence and their efforts to get rid of colonial oppression.
Today Africa is consistently strengthening its positions as a major pillar of the polycentric architecture of the world order that is currently taking shape. Russia supports the efforts of Africa to play the main role in the development of its own continent.
We are pleased to note the positive dynamics of Africa’s political and economic integration, which are a major prerequisite for embarking along a trajectory of stable development. We are interested in further developing ties with African alliances and sub-regional associations. We discussed this in detail at our April talks with Chair of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma.
We appreciate the striving of African nations to seek joint solutions to the key problems of our times, relying on the principles of international law and the central coordinating role of the UN. We welcome their readiness for cooperation in rebuffing global challenges, primarily international terrorism, an unprecedented upsurge of which we are currently witnessing in many African countries.
Socio-economic progress in Africa is obviously impossible without peace and stability. In this context we are concerned about the persisting tensions in South Sudan, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Burundi. It is most important to preserve Libya’s statehood by facilitating genuine national reconciliation, ceasing interference in its domestic affairs and preventing its conversion into a hotbed of terrorism.
We support the efforts of Africans to prevent and settle conflicts, including the formation of the foundations of collective security and their own peacemaking potential. For our part, we are ready to expand cooperation in combating universal threats, such as national and religious extremism and piracy.
We attach special importance to the further diversification of Russian-African economic ties, which have tangible potential. Large Russian companies are ready to expand their presence in Africa and are working on opportunities for joining new large-scale infrastructure projects. We are continuing to implement the debt in exchange for development programmes of our African partners, and traditional exports from a number of African countries enjoy the most favourable treatment in the Russian market.
National personnel training remains a major area of our cooperation. The number of African students in Russian universities grows with every year and has already exceeded 10,000. Importantly, the training of half of them is funded from the Russian federal budget.
We are grateful to the high assessment of Russia’s contribution to the eradication of the Ebola virus at the African Union’s January summit. Russia has allocated over $60 million to combat this dangerous disease. We will continue combating the emergence of pandemic diseases in Africa in the future.
We focus on humanitarian assistance to African countries that are suffering as a result of crises, armed conflicts, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes.
We will continue supporting Africa in all of these areas, both bilaterally and multilaterally, including the discussion of African issues in the UN, the G20 and BRICS.
I am convinced that the deepening of our partnership on the basis of the time-tested traditions of friendship, equality and mutual respect facilitates the consolidation of global and regional security and stability.
In conclusion I would like to wish you a happy holiday once again, along with good health and success in your work and all the best to your families and loved ones.
Happy Africa Day!