BY THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO BOTSWANA
IGOR S. LIAKIN-FROLOV
February 10, 2005
I am very pleased that we managed to sign today the Agreement on Visa-Free Travels on Diplomatic and Service Passports. We thank our Botswana colleagues for the spirit of cooperation and understanding always demonstrated by them during the lengthy work on this document.
At the first sight, the conclusion of the Agreement does not look like a major event in our bilateral relations. But it is a step in the right direction. The Agreement
is designated to simplify the trips of officials, facilitate the contacts between the governments of our two countries.
Hope that having signed the Agreement we could focus on other questions which are on the agenda of our cooperation. It concerns for example, the Consular Convention and we also believe that it is time to think of simplifying visa regime for Russian tourists to Botswana. Their number is increasing every year.
Speaking about our relations with Botswana in general, it is necessary to say that during the last two years they took exceptionally commendable turn
in educational cooperation. In 2003 15 young people from Botswana went to Russia to study at Russian universities. Last year the number of students who went to study in Russia increased up to 32. Last year in accordance with the agreement with SADC Russia granted 13 scholarships to the member-states of this organization, one
of them – for Botswana.
Special attention we pay to the cultural cooperation. Yesterday, for the first time in the history of our bilateral relations, Russian Film Festival was officially opened in Gaborone. Our films will be shown every Tuesday in Maru-a-Pula Secondary School during March.
Cooperation between the parliaments of both countries continues to develop. Just a few days ago we conveyed an invitation to the Speaker of the National Assembly Mr P. Balopi to visit Moscow during the second part of this year.
I am sure that this visit will give a new impulse to the development of contacts between the legislative bodies of Russia and Botswana.
2005 is the year of the 60th Anniversary of the Victory over fascism. For the Russians it is a very important date. It is a day of both celebration of the victory and commemoration of those who did not return from the front. Hope that this date
is equally important for Botswana. We were allies in that war. More than 10 thousand Batswana joined the African Pioneer Corp and participated in the military actions
in the Northern Africa and Italy. The UN General Assembly has recently adopted the resolution (No. 59/26), which declares May 8-9 as the time of remembrance and reconciliation, and invites all the member-states to annually observe these days to pay tribute to all victims of the war.
On the jubilee occasion the Embassy plans to carry out a number of activities, in particular to organize a photo-exhibition in the National Museum of Botswana.