Russia - Ghana relations/

INTERVIEW OF H.E. MR.VALERY ORLOV,
AMBASSADOR OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION TO GHANA
"RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY IN THE PERIOD
OF MR. V.V.PUTIN'S PRESIDENCY"

Question: What could you say about the major foreign policy outcome of the last four years.

Answer: The most important thing is that Russia's international positions have been greatly strengthened over this period. To a decisive extent this has occurred thanks to internal stabilization in the country and to our going into steady economic growth. At the same time the fact has played a vital role that we have generally managed to complete the period of formation of the foreign policy of the new Russia and to devise a course at the base of which lies a clear vision of our long-term national interests and which by the same token ensures our country the role of a constructive and predictable partner in the international arena.

Question: What are the long-term interests of the Russian foreign policy?

Answer: The long-term interests are defined in the Russian Federation's Foreign Policy Concept, approved by President Vladimir Putin in the year 2000. The pivot of the above-mentioned document is in the creation of the most favorable external conditions for the country's development, including the ensuring of reliable security, stable economic growth and enhancement of the well-being and prosperity of the Russian citizens.

Another basic thesis is the following - we can realize our national interests in today's interdependent world only by due consideration for the broad interests of the world community; that is, by means of active cooperation with other states, bilaterally as well as multilaterally. Hence our efforts for integrating Russia into the system of global economic ties and for shaping a world order which to the greatest extent would meet our national interests.

Question: What could you say about Russia's co-operation with the foreign partners in the international arena?

Answer: Our foreign partners see in Russia an important participant of the world processes, contributing to equilibrium on the international scene.

It is in this capacity that our country has helped rally the international community in the fight against terrorism and other global threats and challenges as well as around the idea of strengthening multilateralism in international relations, primarily based on the central role of the United Nations and international law. Russia is actively involved in the search for solutions to the most acute global and regional problems, including the strengthening of nonproliferation regimes and the settlement of the Middle East and other regional and sub-regional conflicts.

Definite results have been achieved in the development of the integration processes within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Treaty on the Establishment of the Eurasian Economic Community has been concluded. There was also signed the agreement on the creation of the common economic space of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Based on the Collective Security Treaty, an international regional organization, the CSTO, has emerged.

Russia's partnership with the European Union has tangibly advanced. The contours are outline of the common spaces uniting us in Greater Europe in the economic, legal and humanitarian spheres and in the field of domestic and external security. Bilateral relations are successfully developing with the European countries as well, especially with such states as France and Germany and also with Italy. Cooperation is constructively developing within the Russia-NATO Council.

Qualitative changes have taken place in Russian-US relations. Thanks to the active political dialogue, primarily at the level of the presidents of the two countries, they have become more stable and predictable. Today the fundamental principles of our relations with the United States - and it is above all the long-term interests of combating terrorism and other global challenges - are strong enough to provide us an opportunity to frankly discuss and to constructively get over the existing differences. Thanks to this we managed to establish a new framework of strategic relations between our countries. Now we have to implement the bilateral Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions, which came into force in 2003. There is also the basis for advancing cooperation in the field of energy and high technologies.

Question: What about other vectors of the Russian foreign policy?

Answer: I strongly believe that the multivector policy of Russia, in which the various geographical thrusts but mutually complement each other, is yielding real results. This is particularly noticeable in the Asian sector. Thus, our relations with China are today elevated to the highest level in all of their history. At the base of this, lies the similarity of the international approaches and the complementary nature of economic interests. The Declaration on Strategic Partnership, signed in 2000, has imparted additional impetus to the traditionally friendly Russian-Indian relations. A favorable perspective of the development of cooperation with Japan is set into the Russian-Japanese Plan of Action, approved at the highest level in 2003.

A major event was the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization with the participation of Russia, China and Central Asian states. This new regional structure is gradually becoming a real factor of stability and cooperation in a vast geopolitical space.

Question: Could you say a few words about Russia's relations with West Africa and especially on Russia - Ghana co-operation.

Answer: Speaking about relations with West Africa I would like to emphasize that Russia maintains friendly and cordial relations with all countries of the sub-region. We have our diplomatic missions in almost all states - members of ECOWAS. Russia co-operates with them on both multilateral and bilateral levels. We coordinate our work in the international organisations, especially in the UN. Important channel of co-operation is provided by interministerial political consultations with our West African partners. For instance, such political consultations between Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Mali and Burkina Faso took place in 2003. In 2002 we held similar consultations with Ghana and Cote - d'Ivoire.

Russia highly supports the efforts of ECOWAS aimed at political and economic integration, strengthening of confidence and mutual understanding in the sub-region, its activity directed at prevention and resolution of the conflict situations, struggle against illegal arms trafficking and trans-national criminality in the West Africa. We believe, that ECOWAS in cooperation with the UN and the African Union will further contribute considerably to the cause of settlement of conflicts, achievement of lasting peace and security and maintenance of stability in the African Continent.

Russia is interested in deepening of mutually beneficial cooperation with ECOWAS member-states in both bilateral and multilateral format. We hope that by joint efforts we will give to our co-operation new dynamics providing an opportunity to effectively realize a considerable potential of mutually beneficial partnership.

As for our relations with Ghana.

Russian people cherish our long-standing, friendly relations with Ghana. We know very well the great impact of this country on stabilization processes in West Africa and its role in the settlement of conflict situations in the continent as a whole and we are ready to continue the strengthening of our co-operation and to explore new spheres for prospective joint work.

Today Ghana, due to its dynamic and responsible leadership, is quickly gaining not only the role of a Gateway to West Africa, but also becoming an influential hub point of continental politics. We are witnessing many positive changes in Ghana macroeconomic and political situation, in the development of democratization processes in the country.

Speaking about relations between our two countries I would like to quote the President of the Russian Federation Mr.V.Putin, who especially emphasized the following: "Lasting traditions of friendship have developed between Russia and the Republic of Ghana. We well know the weighty contribution of your country to stabilizing the situation in Western Africa, to resolving conflicts in the continent as a whole. We are ready to continue to strengthen cooperation and open new areas for long-term joint work."

In 2003 we were witnesses of several important events in the sphere of Russia - Ghana co-operation. Among them - the visit of the Russian parliamentary and business delegation headed by the Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Mr. A.Chilingarov, the establishment of the Ghana - Russia business association, the formation of the Ghana - Russia parliamentary group.

I would like also to inform you that last year the Government of the Russian Federation increased the number of scholarships for the Republic of Ghana by 10 and granted to the Ghanaian side 30 state scholarships for academic year 2004/2005 at the expense of Russian Budget (there were 20 such scholarships for academic year 2003/2004).

I would like to draw your attention to one more important and symbolic event. This January we began to construct a new Complex of the Russian Embassy in Accra. It will be the first newly built Russian Embassy in Africa over the past 15 years. This very fact clearly reaffirms the Russian Government's intention to consistently develop relations with the Republic of Ghana. It also shows that the Russian Federation considers the Republic of Ghana to be one of the leading countries in West African sub-region and a reliable and time-tested partner.

In conclusion I wish to express my strong belief that the important developments that had taken place in 2003 in Russia - Ghana co-operation will add new dimensions and give strong impetus to the relations between our two countries and that the traditional relationship of friendship and mutual understanding between the Republic of Ghana and the Russian Federation will deepen consistently in the interests of our two nations and for the benefit of peaceful and sustainable development of the African Continent.

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