June 13, 2007
MERAFHE INVITES RUSSIANS
The Russian community in Botswana has been requested to help promote Botswana as a business destination.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Lt.General Mompati Merafhe said on Monday that he was confident that he could also count on the Russian Ambassador’s support to promote trade and investment relations between the two countries.
He was speaking at the National Day of the Russian Federation in Gaborone.
General Merafhe said Botswana abolished visa requirements for Russians to promote relations between the two countries and to encourage people-to-people interaction. “We should, therefore, encourage closer interaction between our private sectors,” he said.
He told the audience that the two countries also cooperate at the international level in many organizations, such as the UN and had supported one another on many issues, including the fight against international terrorism. In addition, he said Botswana also appreciated the support that Russia gives to the Kimberly process.
The gathering further heard that Russia was among the first countries to establish cordial and fruitful diplomatic relations with Botswana in the 1970s.
He said the ushering in of a democratic dispensation and a market-based economy during the Presidency of the late Boris Yeltsin marked an important watershed in the history of Russia. He commended President Vladimir Putin for his visionary leadership and for building upon the foundation bequeathed to him by his predecessor.
“Today,” he said Russia “enjoys political stability and an ever growing economy which created new opportunities for her people.”
General Merafhe said over the years, Russia supported Botswana in a variety of fields, including human resource development.
He said the government and the people of Botswana appreciated the valuable support that Russia had and continued to avail to this country.
He said he was aware of Russia’s concern regarding the utilization of training offers.
However, he said the government would endeavour to ensure that the scholarships offered by Russia were fully utilized. He thanked Russia for hosting the second round of political consultations between the two foreign ministries of the two countries last year November.
These consultations, he said had provided opportunity to exchange views on both bilateral and international issues of common interest and mutual concern.
“I do share your view that we have to take advantage of this forum to advance our cooperation agenda in areas of trade and investment which as you rightly point out, need priority attention,” General Merafhe said.
Russian Ambassador, Mr Igor Liakin-Frolov said the withdrawal of visa requirements for Russian nationals would contribute to further development of contacts between the peoples of both countries, cooperation in the field of business and tourism.
Mr Liakin-Frolov said he was convinced that there were still a lot of opportunities to be explored and to be promoted between Botswana and Russia on bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit.
He said the most promising spheres of economic cooperation might be joint investment projects in the fields as energy, mining and infrastructure, where Russia had necessary expertise.
“Russia business expresses interest in participating in such projects as Morupule Power Station expansion and Mmamabula Export Power Station.”
Mr Liakin-Frolov said at present the Embassy “makes active attempts to find new avenues and forms of cooperation based on economic realities and peculiarities of our two countries.”