22 Norbrook Drive, Kingston 8, Jamaica
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All of us agree that it will be impossible to elevate the entire range of relations between Russia and African countries to an entirely new level unless the public at large takes the most energetic part in these efforts. There is demand for more intensive cultural, humanitarian, academic and youth exchanges, as well as general contacts between people. It is hard to overestimate the role of this in strengthening friendship, trust and mutual understanding between nations. For example, many Africans have in fact discovered modern Russia for themselves while taking part in the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi in the autumn of 2017 or while visiting Russia as fans during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
I consider it absolutely necessary to maximise the potential of public, cultural and business diplomacy in the interests of strengthening and expanding the traditionally friendly and mutually beneficial ties between Russia and African states.
I would like to sincerely thank the organisers of the current Forum, including the African Business Initiative Union and the World Association of Foreign Alumni of Russian Universities. Your efforts have made it possible to bring together representatives of political, public, academic, business and youth circles of African states in Moscow. This is a wonderful opportunity to discuss topical issues of Russian-African cooperation and to outline specific and forward-looking aspects of cooperation and joint work.
Russia's ties with the African continent go back centuries. In the 15th-17th centuries, Russian merchants and pilgrims visited Egypt. In the 19th century, famous Russian traveler and diplomat Yegor Kovalevsky conducted geographical and geological research in East Africa. By the way, he was one of the first to pinpoint the correct geographic location of the source of the White Nile. Prominent Russian researcher Vasily Yunker made a significant contribution to the study of Central Africa. He was the first to draw a detailed map of the region. Outstanding Russian poet Nikolay Gumilyov also contributed greatly to African studies. Nikolay Leontiev left a deep imprint on the memory of the people of Ethiopia. During the first Italian-Abyssinian war, he led a detachment of Russian volunteers in the anti-colonial fight and contributed to the modernisation of the Ethiopian army. Prominent Russian diplomat Pyotr Vlasov stood at the beginning of official relations between Russia and Ethiopia in 1898.
Our country did not stain itself with the crimes of colonialism. On the contrary, it helped, in every possible way, the peoples of the continent attain their freedom and sovereignty by providing comprehensive assistance and support in developing statehood and strengthening the economic independence of the African states. We are proud of our common achievements in political, economic, cultural and other spheres.
Africa is an important partner for Russia, a participant in the emerging and sustainable polycentric architecture of the world order. Our relations with the states of that continent are valuable in their own right and should not be subject to the fluctuations on the international arena. We are aware that our African friends hold the same views. Relying on the accumulated experience of productive cooperation, Russian diplomats seek to pursue a consistent policy for deepening the range of Russia-Africa relations. We are doing this based solely on the principles of international law, equality, and consideration and respect for the interests of each other. We have managed to achieve significant results.
We maintain regular contact at the highest and higher levels. Relations between our parliaments, as well as the exchanges between our respective ministries and departments, including, of course, foreign ministries, are expanding. Trade and economic exchanges are improving, although not at the pace we would like to see. Projects in the military-technical sector, as well as programmes in healthcare, education, and culture are underway. I am convinced there will be more efforts in these and other areas.
I am pleased to note that the positions of Russia and the overwhelming majority of African countries on the key issues of our time are similar or very close. Both we and our African friends are consistent supporters of strengthening democratic and just principles of international life, respect for the cultural and civilisational persity of the modern world, and the right of the people to determine the models and approaches to socioeconomic development.
Moscow is interested in close foreign policy coordination with its African partners in the UN and other multilateral venues. In particular, we support further deepening of the BRICS-Africa dialogue. We attach great importance to strengthening peace and security in the region which is the most important component in ensuring the sustainable and dynamic development of the African states and maintaining global and regional stability.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia will continue to contribute to the development of a strategy for practical peacekeeping operations on the continent, while invariably adhering to the African solutions to African problems principle formulated by the Africans themselves.
In closing, I would like to say that your forum will undoubtedly make a significant contribution to the overall efforts to achieve the comprehensive strengthening of ties.
I am pleased to note that two more major events - the Russia-Africa Parliamentary Forum, as well as the Russia-Africa Business Forum - will soon take place. I am confident that these events will set the stage for a comprehensive Russia-Africa summit in the foreseeable future, to which we will contribute in every way. Most importantly, we need to provide it with specific mutually beneficial content.
Thank you and I wish you every success in your work.
Building of the Russian Embassy in Kingston