Transcript of Speech by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov at Reception on Occasion of Africa Day, May 24, 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would especially like to address words of greeting to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Gabon. By a lucky coincidence he came to Moscow for a visit precisely on this day, which is particularly pleasant, especially as the Ambassador of Gabon is the doyen of the African diplomatic corps in Moscow.
I would like to cordially congratulate all those present on Africa Day - a holiday which is traditionally regarded in Russia as a symbol of friendship between the Russian and African peoples - and to wish in your person all the states of that region of the world prosperity and further success on the road of sociopolitical and economic transformation.
As in previous years, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin sent the heads of the African states congratulatory messages, reaffirming the invariable course towards consistent development of Russian-African cooperation.
Russia welcomes the increased role of the African states in world politics, their efforts to settle the regional conflicts still lingering on the continent and their striving for economic and social development and the affirmation of human rights and democracy.
We are aware of the extensiveness of the problems facing the African continent, and watch with great interest the peacekeeping and integration activities of the African Union and sub-regional organizations in Africa.
It is symbolic that our present meeting is being held on the eve of the inauguration ceremony for the African Union's Peace and Security Council, which is meant to be an important factor of stability and sustainable development on the continent. The world community should not relax its attention to the problems of Africa. Guided by the principles of solidarity and justice, Russia will continue to pursue in the UN and various international structures a line meeting the interests of the states of the region and to continue its participation in agreed steps for rending comprehensive assistance to the continent, including within the Group of Eight and other multilateral forums. We will continue to support efforts to resolve the crises in Africa and reinforce Africa's peacekeeping capabilities. It is gratifying to note that Russian peacekeepers participate in all the operations being conducted by the UN in Africa, and that many Africans are being taught peacekeepers' trade at Russian training centers.
Russia has in the framework of the Paris Club been rendering considerable assistance to African countries in reducing their debt burden and has been developing commercial and economic ties with the states of the continent, although efforts have yet to be built up here and assistance rendered in the training of personnel in numerous civilian specialties.
The Russian political dialogue with African states is successfully developing in the form of contacts at various levels and in the shape of intensive consultations between foreign ministries, in the course of which the similarity of our approaches stands revealed towards major international issues.
We stand for the further strengthening of cultural, educational and public ties, of parliamentary contacts and of links at regions' level, that create a climate of trust and understanding in relations between Russia and the African countries.
Your work in Moscow makes an important contribution to achieving the goals of our cooperation and developing political, economic, cultural and other ties. In this work you can always count on support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Russian structures.
Once again I congratulate you on this holiday, on Africa Day, dear friends. All the best to you and success in your work for the benefit of the peoples of your countries, for the benefit of Russian-African friendship and cooperation.