June 9, 2005

Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Lieutenant General Mompati Merafhe,

Honourable Ministers here present,

Your Excellencies and my dear Colleagues – Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Honourable Members of the National Assembly,

YourWorship Nelson Ramaotwana, Mayor of Gaborone,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On June 12 the Russian Federation once again celebrates her National Day. This is really the Day of the New Russia. Fourteen years ago the Russian people made a historical choice in favour of freedom. This decision was taken not because we either wanted to please the West or had lost the “cold” war. This choice was made for the sake of Russia itself, for the sake of its future. That’s why the unconditional priority of our national development is the creation of a free and democratic state capable to ensure to every citizen fundamental rights and freedoms. Of course, the process of formation of democratic values and institutes is not fast and simple. But we are determined to go ahead and keep our resolve. On this way Russia recently has already achieved tangible results.

This year the Day of Russia has come shortly after the celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The victory over fascism is significant not only for the peoples of Russia and the former Soviet Union but also for the whole international community. Exactly a month ago from today on May 9 solemn celebrations commemorating this jubilee date took place on the Red Square in Moscow. At the invitation of President V. Putin leaders of more than 50 states arrived in Moscow to participate in those festive events which contributed a lot to consolidation of unity and solidarity of all countries and peoples in the face of the global challenges of the 21st century.

To commemorate this date the Russian Embassy in cooperation with the National Museum of Botswana organized a photo-exhibition, a section of which was dedicated particularly to the participation of Batswana in the war. It is of a special pleasure to us that a group of Batswana war veterans also attended the opening ceremony. I believe that all those who took part in this ceremony agree with me that it was really moving and memorable event.

This year we shall also celebrate another very important event in the world politics – the 45th Anniversary of adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Declaration on Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. This historical document gave a vigorous impetus to the formation and development of African states. Our country actively contributed to the process which radically changed the political map of Africa and the whole world.

Since then the African states have grown to play further more significant role in international life and considerably advanced in fulfillment of political and economic transformations. Russia highly appreciates the efforts of the African countries to overcome the problems which the continent is still facing. First of all it concerns the solution of such important problem as settlement of local armed conflicts. The peace-making activities of the African community as well as the coordinating role of the African Union and its Council on Peace and Security, major sub-regional organizations including SADC have a special significance here. We support the efforts of the African states to create a collective security system on the regional level and to increase their own peace-making capabilities. Russia participates actively in all peacemaking operations on the continent under the mandate of the UN Security Council and intends to increase its contribution to the training of African peacekeepers.

On the positive side one can note the commitment of the states on the continent to the implementation of the New Partnership for African Development. The African community’s own moves to ensure stable development of the region enjoys international support. On its part Russia is ready to continue to render necessary assistance to Africa within the framework of various projects on bilateral basis as well as under the auspices of the UN, G8, other multilateral fora and organizations.

The message of the President of the Russian Federation to the Heads of States and Governments of the African Countries on the occasion of the Africa Day that was on May 25, 2005 carries the same idea. It confirms our fundamental policy aimed at developing political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation with the African states in the fields of trade, economy, education, science and culture.

Russia is happy to have excellent friendly relations with the Republic of Botswana. They have longstanding traditions. This March it was the 35th Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries.

I am pleased to say today that the approaches of both countries towards many world and regional problems are close or coincide. We highly appreciate the important role which Botswana is playing in our common efforts to consolidate the principle of multilateralism in the modern system of international relations with the central role of the UN. Our bilateral relations are strengthened by respect for common attributes like international stability, sovereignty of states and peaceful resolution of conflicts. It gives us the good ground for fruitful cooperation in foreign policy matters, economy, education, culture, tourism, etc. This February our two countries signed the Agreement on Visa-Free Travels on Diplomatic and Service Passports. We believe that this document will not only simplify the contacts between government officials but also will facilitate to development of people to people interaction in various fields. Hope that additional impulse to the development of bilateral relations will be given by the forthcoming visit of the delegation of the National Assembly of Botswana to Moscow. The process of ratification of the Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation is now underway at the Russian Parliament.

Recently there have been appeared certain positive signs in the cooperation in the humanitarian sphere. Last March the Embassy with the support of Gaborone Film Society organized the Russian Film Festival during which four new Russian movies were shown. A photo-exhibition about Russian historical and cultural heritage was demonstrated at the University of Botswana.

Russia continues the tradition of assisting Botswana in training highly skilled personnel in various fields by granting state and other scholarships to Botswana students and post-graduates. For the last two years almost 50 young people from Botswana went to Russia to study at Russian Universities.

It is my strong conviction that there are no limits for friendship, understanding and cooperation between our two counties and nations.

Having this in mind I would like in conclusion to propose a toast to the health and long life of His Excellency Mr Festus Mogae, the President of the Republic of Botswana, the happiness and well-being of the people of this beautiful country, to everlasting friendship and good relations between Russia and Botswana, to the international peace and security.