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Ambassador's Speeches

Speech of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Botswana Victor Sibilev at the reception on the occasion of Russia Day
Gaborone, June 14, 2016

Honourable Mr Phillip Dikgang Makgalemele, Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs and Public Administration,

The Dean Ambassador of Angola Mr. Jose Agostinho Neto,

Esteemed former Foreign Ministers of Botswana Dr. Gaositwe Chiepe and Mr. Phandu Skelemani,

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Captains of industry,

Compatriots,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we live in a very complicated, unpredictable and challenging global environment, which requires much effort to successfully navigate in it. A reliable solution to the global problems of today can only be achieved through serious and honest cooperation that should engage all the countries at the same time reflecting the interests of the international community as a whole.

This approach is shared by many, including our friends among neighbouring nations, partners within BRICS, and a lot of other states across the globe, including Africa. Our paramount task is to join efforts in tackling pressing challenges, among which the terrorist aggression is the most daunting. Despite current difficulties in relations with the West, we are not seeking confrontation. On the contrary, Russia is open to the widest possible cooperation with all the partners who are ready to engage. Just one month ago, the city of Sochi hosted the Russia-ASEAN Summit gathering heads of state and government of the South-East-Asian countries. A declaration of cooperation between Russia and ASEAN was signed there. Although the regime of sanctions illegally imposed upon Russia by certain countries continues, our country has returned to its developmental track leaving economic recession in the past. This can be illustrated by large-scale projects, such as the construction of a new launching site for space rockets “Vostochny”, the creation of an innovative middle-range passenger aircraft MS-21, which surpasses all existing analogues in terms of speed and economy, and development of a nuclear engine for interplanetary space flights. In the same vein comes the on-going building of a bridge across the Kerch strait to join Russia with Crimea, which has been blockaded by the Ukrainian authorities. The bridge is going to be a unique engineering structure of 19 km. long with two-way car and railway traffic, the total cost exceeding $ 3 bln.

The African continent is consistently strengthening its positions today as a major pillar of the emerging polycentric structure of the world order. Russia supports the efforts of Africans to play the leading role in the development of its own land, intends to broaden its ties with African states, African Union and sub-regional organizations. We are now one step away from signing a renewed Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and SADC on basic principles of relations and cooperation. Hopefully, the document will specify the framework of cooperation between Russia and SADC and help to impart it with real and tangible meaning.

We attach special importance to the further diversification of Russian-African economic ties. Large Russian companies are ready to expand their presence in Africa and are working on opportunities for joining new large-scale infrastructure projects.

Our Government is grateful to the high assessment of Russia’s contribution to the eradication of the deadly Ebola virus by the African Union. Two types of vaccine were successfully developed and send to clinical trial to the Paster Institute in Guinea. Russia will remain focused on humanitarian assistance to African nations that are suffering from crises, armed conflicts, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. Russia will continue supporting Africa in all of these areas, both bilaterally and multilaterally, including the discussion of African issues in the UN, the G20 and BRICS.

The ties between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Botswana are gradually getting stronger. We have been witnessing the invigoration our inter-parliamentary cooperation. In 2015, Speaker of the National Assembly Honourable Gladys Kokorwe took part in the Eurasian Women's Forum held in St. Petersburg at the invitation of the Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matvienko. To support momentum, we are planning to conclude an agreement on inter-parliamentary cooperation next year.

The Embassy makes efforts to enhance ties between private businesses of the two countries. Together with our partners we organized a Russia-Botswana business forum in November last year, which gathered representatives of seven Russian companies, including such majors as Alrosa, Gazprombank and Rostec.

Russia continues to lend support to Botswana Police Service, mainly through provision of sponsorship for short-term skills development courses and programmes of higher education. Four police officers from Botswana are currently studying at Russian police universities and several more are going to join them this year. Over 30 officers have already benefited from short-term upgrading courses on various specialized disciplines.

The Russian Government annually allocates scholarships to high-achieving Botswana students to receive higher education. At the same time, a significant number of Batswana are studying in Russia on a self-sponsored basis. Just now Honourable Unity Dow, the Minister of Education and Skills Development, is in Russia, and tomorrow she is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. But the purpose of Minister Dow’s visit to our country is not limited to this as we have other on-going projects and initiatives, the most promising of which is the partnership between the Botswana International University of Science and Technology and Russia’s Joint Institute of Nuclear Research, which may lead to the construction of cutting-edge research facilities in Botswana.

This has not been the only ministerial visit lately – in March the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Honourable Tshekedi Khama went to Moscow and Saint Petersburg and had a meeting with the Minister of Natural Recourses and Environment of Russia Sergey Donskoy. It was agreed to work out a Memorandum of Understanding between the two ministries on environmental protection.

Within the framework of the Muskoka initiative on Maternal, Child and Newborn Health launched at the G 8 summit in 2010, medical practitioners from Botswana visit Russia every year to participate in professional seminars and conferences. A joint working group on health may emerge under a new MoU, which is expected to be signed soon.

I am convinced that the deepening of our partnership following the time-tested traditions of friendship, equality and mutual respect makes our countries stronger, more prosperous and resilient to all sorts of challenges. It is indeed a great pleasure to share this celebration with all of you. I would like in conclusion to propose a toast to the health and long life of Their Excellencies Lt.-Gen. Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, President of the Republic of Botswana, and Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, to everlasting friendship and good relations between Russia and Botswana, to the universal peace and prosperity.

Pula!