THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN NEW AFRICA AND NEW RUSSIA
On the eve of Africa Day-2005, a seminar titled "NEPAD: A Call for a New Partnership Between Africa and Russia" was held in Moscow's President Hotel. The seminar was organized by the ambassadors of African countries accredited in Russia and the Africa Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It was opened by the Ambassador of Cameroon, Andre Ngongang Ouandji, the doyen of the African ambassadors in Russia. The greeting from the Russian Foreign Ministry was read by the director of the Africa Department, A.M.Makarenko.
NEPAD stands for "The New Partnership for Africa's Development." This is a program of all-embracing measures that should help the countries of Africa to jointly solve the continent's eternal problems - poverty, stagnation, hunger, and diseases. However, in order to do this Africa needs the help of the developed countries. Africans see Russia as their natural partner. This thought was expressed in the speeches made by Professor T.A.Adeola, who is the representative of the Commission on African Affairs of the G8, the Ambassador of Algeria, Amar Abba, the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa, Professor Mochubela J.Seekoe, the chairman of the Russian-African business council and chairman of the Moscow-based Bard Forte Bank, Adalet M.Dzhabiyev and others. A comprehensive report made by the vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, G.G. Petrov, clearly refuted the statement of some members of the press who said that Russia is curtailing its trade and economic relations with the African countries and showing a clear preference for the West. "The trade turnover between Russia and African countries is growing dynamically," he said. "Imperceptibly Russian businesses have become a large investor in Africa. We are talking about $2 billion in investments, and if we include all the large companies, it would be $6 billion. We have every right to say that Russia is back in Africa. When it comes to writing off the debts of the African states, Russia occupies the third place among G8 countries in terms of the amount. Africa is a very important region for Russia, and NEPAD is not some abstract notion, but a real program for action." In closing the discussion, the Ambassador of Egypt, Raouf Saad, said, "The partnership that we offer within the NEPAD framework is a partnership between new Africa and new Russia."
On May 25, Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, held a reception in honor of Africa Day at the Foreign Ministry's Guest House. When making the welcoming speech, he noted: "Thanks to the sustained growth of the Russian economy and the strengthening of Russia's international position, the former cooperation (between Russia and Africa) is once again becoming a reality except that this time it has a firm pragmatic basis, not ideological. Thus the equal rights and mutually advantageous nature of our relations."
On the evening of the same day, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dan Suleiman, and his wife gave a state reception in honor of the 42nd anniversary of the Organization of African Unity. The reception was held at the Cultural Center of the Main Administration for Service to the Diplomatic Corps. The guests were greeted by the director of the Foreign Ministry's Africa Department, A.M.Makarenko.