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Articles Published in Botswana Mass Media on Russian-Botswana Relations

Botswana Guardian
January 12, 2007

RUSSIA EXPRESSES OPTIMISM
OUTCOMES OF 2006 AND PROSPECTS FOR 2007

The outgoing year was very complex in foreign policy terms and was tightly packed with events. Not everything probably came out quite okay in international affairs. But the year wasn’t spent in vain.

Hopefully we have all become wiser and will draw lessons from this year and next year we are going to succeed ever more. The lessons are fairly simple. More and more countries speak out for collective action, for enlistment of all states in dialogue, not isolation of anyone.

In the decade and a half since the end of the Cold War the world has radically changed. And although in its cast of mind some prejudices and intellectual inertia of the past manifest themselves, the green shoots of the new are ever more confidently sprouting around the world. With two-bloc stand off having receded into the past the room for confrontation has objectively narrowed in international relations. At the same time the globalization of possibilities as well as challenges to security and sustainable development leaves no place for national egoism, ideological supremacy and civilizational exclusiveness.

Nobody disputes that democracy is the main avenue for the development of mankind. But every country and every region choose their own path towards this goal. Forcing the natural process of democratic development would only result in a throw-back, undermining the legitimacy of its advocates in the eyes of the people.

The democratization processes encompass not only some or other countries but international relations as well. There is a growing understanding that only the world community’s joint response to the key problems of modern development can be truly effective. The principle of multilateralism is becoming ever more universal and shared by the majority of states including Russia and Botswana.

Russia is ready and willing to actively participate in collective actions, to play in a team. The conviction that collective methods are most effective is borne out by St.Petersburg G8 summit which may well aspire to the place of the main foreign policy event of the year. The times are gone when the G8 was an exclusive club. Globalization demands truly representative, global platforms for coordinating approaches towards problems common to the entire international community. It has been along this direction that the G8 has been evolving. We are convinced that the tendency for greater openness and further democratization of the work of the G8 will continue to grow.

The Russian G8 presidency’s priorities were consonant with the vital interests of the African peoples. They are security, education and combating infections diseases – the global problems which effect directly all African states. The discussion of these three subjects has resulted in the well-considered coordinated G8 action programmes oriented towards solving urgent problems of global dimension. We believe that the implementation of the decisions of the last G8 summit will in practice help the mobilization of Africa’s own efforts and the provision of additional external support to the countries of the continent in carrying out their own development plans.

The 2005 World summit unanimously reaffirmed that peace, security and development are inseparable. With this in mind Russia is prepared to engage in collective discussions and support further joint pragmatic steps with a view to improving the efficiency of the activities of the entire UN system in the social and economic areas. Realizing its responsibility as one of the fastest growing economies of the world the Russian Federation pays ever growing attention to development assistance.

Thus far Russia has written off or has undertaken to write off 11,3 billion US dollars of the African countries’ debt, including 2,2 billion US dollars within the HIPC Debt Initiative. New steps are planned in this area. We have also increased our contribution to other mechanisms of the international development assistance, including through UN institutions and foundations and Breton woods institutions. The Russian government has recently approved international development assistance concept which provides for the increase of volume of Russia’s official development assistance up to 400-500 million US dollars annually.

The visit of President V. Putin to South Africa and Morocco last September became an important historical landmark in further development of our cooperation with African continent. The visit clear demonstrated that Russia is returning to Africa and that our relations with African states are moving to a qualitatively new level.

2006 year was another successful year in the development of the relations between Russia and Botswana. The political dialogue has dynamically developed. Last November bilateral political consultations for the first time ever took place in Moscow. They showed the closeness of views on major international issues. The decision by Botswana government to abandon visa requirements for Russian nationals will contribute to further development of contacts between the peoples of both countries, cooperation in the field of business and tourism. During the year our relations with Botswana took exceptionally commendable turn in cultural cooperation. The brilliant performance by the Moscow Ballet Stars last August will, undoubtedly, stay in the memory of Gaborone ballet lovers.

I am convinced that there are still a lot of opportunities to be explored and to be promoted in our bilateral cooperation for our mutual benefit. On her part, Russia is ready to make all efforts to utilize these opportunities.