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Ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to have this opportunity to speak at the opening ceremony of the 12th session of the Russian-Arab Business Council and the 4th Arabia-EXPO International Exhibition. Such high-profile events, which have become a good tradition, are a vivid confirmation of mutual interest in strengthening and persifying our trade and economic ties.
First of all, allow me to perform the honourable mission of conveying the message from President of Russia Vladimir Putin:
To the participants and guests of the 12th session of the Russian-Arab Business Council
and the 4th Arabia-EXPO International Exhibition
Please accept my greetings on the opening of the 12th session of the Russian-Arab Business Council and the 4th Arabia-EXPO International Exhibition.
Over the years of its work, the Russian-Arab Business Council has fully proved its relevance and effectiveness and contributed to promoting direct dialogue and practical interaction between the business communities of Russia and the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.
The council’s energetic efforts serve to expand and persify trade, to increase mutual investment and implement promising joint projects in the manufacturing industry and agriculture, energy and high technologies, transport and infrastructure.
Large-scale Arabia-EXPO exhibitions are an essential area of the council’s activities. They introduce the latest economic, scientific and technological achievements of the Arab states to the Russian people and offer an opportunity for entrepreneurs to exchange business proposals and innovative ideas.
I hope the current session of the council will be substantive and will make it possible to outline new forms and mechanisms for equitable cooperation, as well as to strengthen friendship and mutual understanding between our nations.
I wish you fruitful work and all the best.
We have also received a message of greetings from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev which is addressed to you. In his message, Mr Medvedev notes that Russia and Arab states are linked by strong ties of friendship and partnership and expresses confidence that the current event in Moscow will make it possible to completely unlock the considerable cooperation potential between Russia and regional states.
In turn, I would like to add a few words of my own. The messages from the Russian leader and Russia’s Prime Minister confirm our commitment to further expanding the longstanding relations of friendship between Russia and the Arab world. Based on the principles of equality, respect and consideration of each other’s interests, they expanded rapidly in the 1960s-1980s when the Soviet Union provided perse assistance to many countries in the Middle East and North Africa and helped them overcome the consequences of colonial oppression, develop their economies, science, education and culture, and strengthen their defence capability.
I am happy to note that the rich traditions of mutually enriching partnership have passed the test of time and continue to develop today. For Russian foreign policy, expanding bilateral and multilateral cooperation with Arab countries is an unconditional priority. The Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum, whose regular session will take place in Moscow a week later (April 16), at the level of foreign ministers of Russia and the Arab League, has an important role to play in this work.
The linking of our efforts is especially relevant in the context of effectively addressing the large-scale challenges of stabilising the difficult situation in the Middle East and North Africa, fostering a space of peace and security in this strategically important region, and creating the necessary conditions for the sustainable development of all states. Together with our Arab friends, we aim to promote the settlement of all conflicts by exclusively political and diplomatic means on the basis of international law, with unconditional respect for the countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, without external interference and with respect for the cultural and civilisational persity of this unique region.
The energetic political dialogue between Russia and the Arab states is complemented by intensive trade and economic exchanges. Total trade is growing steadily. Last year, it grew by more than 8% to $22 billion.
Russian companies and their Arab partners are implementing more than 400 investment and export projects worth over $40 billion, with about $25 billion of that to be financed with Russian government loans.
Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation is building a nuclear power plant in Egypt. LUKOIL and Gazprom Neft are developing oil and gas fields in Iraq, and NOVATEK in Lebanon. Among the striking examples of mutually beneficial cooperation are the development of the Russian industrial zone in Egypt, the supply of aeronautical and meteorological equipment for civil airports in Sudan, and much more.
The dynamically developing business partnership between the Russian Direct Investment Fund and the sovereign investment funds of Gulf states deserves special mention. The volume of approved joint transactions in this area amounts to many billions of dollars.
Further deepening of our mutually beneficial practical cooperation will significantly strengthen the foundation underlying Russian-Arab relations and will give a powerful new impetus to their further development.
It is difficult to overestimate the contribution to the cooperative efforts of the Russian-Arab Business Council, which has become one of the key mechanisms for promoting trade and investment cooperation between Russia and the Arab world over its years of fruitful activity. I would like to make special note of the role of the Arabia-EXPO exhibition, which has become a good tradition as an effective and popular venue that brings together interested representatives of the authorities and the business community, where promising joint ventures are launched.
You will be discussing a wide range of promising areas of cooperation – from industry and energy to agriculture and innovation. I am confident that your rich programme of activities will promote the growth of mutual trade, the launch of major new initiatives, the greater prosperity of our citizens, and the creation of a solid economic foundation for the peaceful development of the Arab world.
I would like to wish you productive work, new mutually beneficial contacts and all the best.
Building of the Russian Embassy in Kingston