Speech by State Secretary and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasily Sredin at a Ceremonial Meeting on the Occasion of Africa Day at Roszarubezhtsentr, May 24, 2001
May 25, 2001
Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, allow me on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to congratulate the esteemed colleagues - ambassadors and staff members of the diplomatic missions of African countries in Moscow - and to greet the representatives of the Russian public and scientific and business circles on the occasion of Africa Day, to be observed tomorrow.
I think that for all those present here this is not only a commemorative date, but also a good opportunity to look on the road traversed by the region over the period of independent development and to give an assessment to the state of Russian-African relations.
Today it can be said with confidence that Africa, surmounting with help from the entire international community the many difficulties and problems it faces, is acquiring a worthy place in the world arena. Russia as a principled advocate of the construction of an equitable, multipolar world pattern assists this process in every way and regards it as an important component of global tendencies.
A special role in the onward formation of Africa as a weighty and influential force on the international arena belongs to the Organization of African Unity. We believe that political and economic integration, collective work to consolidate peace and stability and overcome conflicts are one of effective ways to achieve sustainable development. That is why we lay so much weight on the unifying tendencies in Africa and on the further unity of the continent's countries to be gained within the framework of the African Union, called upon to give in the present day historical conditions a new dimension to the integration processes in the region. Backing in very way the steps of African states in this direction, we strive to widen partner relations with relevant organizations.
In recent years much has also changed in our bilateral ties with the countries of Africa. The time-tested political cooperation has markedly been stepped up. In proof of what I have said I can cite the whole series of visits to our country by the heads of African states - Nigeria, Algeria, Gabon, and Egypt. Political consultations between foreign affairs agencies, inter-parliamentary cooperation, and interregional ties have intensified.
An important trend has to be noted here - the content filling of our ties is qualitatively improving. Specific agreements and understandings are being worked out in the political, economic, cultural and other fields. In relations with a number of countries substantial shifts have occurred that bring us closer to the practical realization of new mutually beneficial projects both in traditional fields - health care and education - and in sufficiently new areas of cooperation, including in power production, oil extraction, and use of space technologies. The work of joint intergovernmental commissions is getting going. Our business structures' interest in cooperation with African countries has noticeably increased.
In other words, we are gradually advancing along the path of the adaptation of cooperation to the new realities, for which purpose a great deal of work has been done over the last decade. There still exist substantial reserves on this road, our trade and economic cooperation with Africa so far does not quite match the potentials of the sides, but we're witnessing progress. It is necessary to strengthen this tendency. In this regard, I hope for close coordination of efforts in the appropriate fields of activity also by all those present in this hall. Only by joint steps can we attain perceptible results, which the peoples of our countries are expecting from us.
In this connection allow me to express particular gratitude to the organizer of our meeting today - Roszarubezhtsentr [the Government's Russian Center for International Scientific and Cultural Cooperation] - which has done a lot to strengthen Russia's relations with the African countries.
In conclusion I would like to sincerely wish the peoples of all countries of the African Continent peace, progress, well-being, happiness and prosperity.