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Ambassador's Speeches

SPEECH
OF THE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO BOTSWANA
IGOR S. LIAKIN-FROLOV
ON OCCASION OF
THE NATIONAL DAY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

                                                                               June 11, 2007

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

Chief Justice Honourable Julian Nganunu,

Honourable Ministers here present,

Honourable Members of the National Assembly,

Chairperson of the House of Chiefs Honourable Kgosi Seepapitso IV,

His Worship the Mayor of Gaborone Harry Mothei,

His Lordship Justice Dawie Devilliers,

Your Excellencies and my dear colleagues – members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to greet you here on the occasion of the National Day of the Russian Federation. This Day has a special significance for us Russians as it marks a new stage in the long history of my country.

Today I proudly note that contemporary Russia is not the Russia of the early 1990s with a weak, fragmented economy and a host of socioeconomic problems. Russia is back on its feet and has grown stronger economically. An enormous foreign debt has been repaid. The systemic crisis of the end of the last century has been overcome. The disintegration of the country has been definitively halted. A shift from stabilization and accumulation to confident development has begun. The competitiveness of Russia in conditions of globalization is steadily growing. Now there are all grounds to believe that the country will be able to reach our major economic goal set up in 2005 – to double its GDP in forthcoming decade.

High economic growth rates have helped embark on the realization of large scale national social projects. Their aim is to raise the living standards and quality of life of our country’s citizens.

All these positive changes have found its interpretation in Russian foreign policy which is based on the principles of pragmatism, realism and multivectorness. It has become more confident and predictable.

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. In this regard we cannot but agree with the words of President Mr Festus G. Mogae in his recent speech in Berlin. Russia fully shares his view that though the principles of democracy are paramount and universal there is no universally accepted single template of democracy and it would be unrealistic, unfair and unreasonable to expect all countries to subscribe to a monolithic model of democracy.

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.

A multipolar world is not set for confrontation. It’s simply that new power centres are objectively coming into being. They compete particularly for influence and access to natural resources. Such was always the case and there is nothing fatal about it. But there should be “no zero games” in this regard; for what’s required is to form the collective leadership of multipolar world – a leadership relying upon international law and respecting the role of the UN.

Russia is ready and willing to actively participate in collective actions, to play in a team. The conviction that collective methods are most effective was confirmed once again at the recent G8 Summit in Germany. 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. We are sure that the tendency for greater openness and further democratization of the work of the G8 will continue to grow. On its part Russia intends to use its influence in the G8 to help push the African Development Agenda.

Last 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.

Unfortunately, we cannot say the same about the trade and economic relations which so far do not match the level of political contacts. Last January during the presentation of credentials by new Botswana Ambassador to Russia President V. Putin underlined it specially and appealed to make additional efforts to change this situation. To our mind, the most promising spheres of economic cooperation might be joint investment projects in such fields as energy, mining and infrastructure, where Russia has necessary expertise. Russian business expresses interest in participating in such projects as Morupule Power Station expansion and Mmamabula Export Power Station.

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. Both in Moscow and Gaborone there is a growing understanding of the necessity to bring business circles of our countries closer together so that they could know more about requirements and opportunities of each other through exchange of delegations, exhibitions, fairs and other means. In this regard we seriously count on active participation by our Botswana partners in major trade exhibition “The World of Africa” to be held in Moscow in September.

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. A few days ago another photo-exhibition Moscow – the Heart of Russia was opened in Botswana National Museum. It became a good tradition to hold annually the Russian Film Festival in Gaborone. The brilliant performance by the Moscow Ballet Stars last August will, undoubtedly, stay in the memory of Gaborone ballet lovers. Now we are working on bringing to Gaborone another group of Russian ballet dancers. I hope that we will do it already this September.

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.

In conclusion may I now invite you to join me in drinking a toast to the good health and long life of His Excellency Mr Festus Mogae, President of the Republic of Botswana, happiness and well-being of the people of this beautiful country, to continued cordial relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Botswana, to the international peace and security.

На здоровье! Pula!