Russia - Ghana relations/

of the Embassy of the Russian Federation

H.E. Mr.Valery Orlov, Russian Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana, held a meeting with the press on March 24, 2005.

During the meeting Russian Ambassador informed representatives of the Ghanaian print and electronic media on the political, economic and social developments in Russia. He paid special attention to the political and administrative reforms in Russia, saying that there is no basis for blank criticism of Russian Government for steps to strengthen the state system. He underlined that after Beslan tragedy the important conclusion that it is necessary not only to consolidate state system, but to create the mechanism of straight and constant dialogue and cooperation between the authority and civil society was made. Answering to the critics of the political developments in Russia, Mr.Orlov noted that they sweepingly criticize everything that can strengthen Russia, adding “we are building democratic civil society in Russia not for the purpose to be praised by somebody in the West but for our own interest”.

Russian Ambassador also presented a Russian vision on the issues of “West’s concern” such as Chechnya, YUKOS, and press freedom in Russia etc.

As for the situation in Chechen Republic Mr.Orlov told journalists that widespread military actions in Chechnya have been finished, the population made their choice for peace and adopted the Constitution, chose legitimate authority. He underlined that the process of returning to the peaceful life in the conditions of ruined economy and rebels sallies goes not very easy but it goes. “To close eyes on the changes to the best, to keep silence, seeing the process of restoration, the normalization of different sides of life in Chechnya – means the firm intention to distort the real situation”, - said Russian Ambassador.

Speaking on YUKOS issue Mr.Orlov mentioned that the action that was brought against YUKOS by the General Office of the Public Prosecutor has no political sense. He explained that in Russia, as in any other country, everyone must pay taxes and big companies ought to do the same. Russian Ambassador further noted that in the West the actions against unscrupulous businessmen are often brought (“Enron” and the group of New-York brokers in the USA, “Elf” in France, “Parmalat” in Italia), but nobody declares it to be political actions. “The court will settle down juridical points of YUKOS actions”, - concluded Mr.Orlov.

Touching the issue of the freedom of the press in Russia Ambassador V.Orlov told journalists that the Russian President underlined many times that independent media is an important instrument of developing democracy in the society. Mr.Orlov noted that there are a lot of different newspapers, TV and Radio channels in Russia and, as he underlined, there is no secret that there are state medias but private independent medias are in a great majority in the Russian Federation. According to the Ambassador, among private media there are those which sharply criticize Russian authorities and the government. “In some countries the journalists would have lost their jobs for such critics”, - stressed Mr.Orlov. Mr.Orlov recommended those who talked about independent media and freedom of the press absence in Russia took to read such newspapers as “Kommersant”, “Moskovskie novosti”, ‘Novaya Gazeta” etc.

Speaking on the foreign policy of the Russian Federation Mr.Orlov mentioned that a stable and growing economy bolsters the international positions of Russia. Today, according to him, Russia has better opportunities not only to promote political dialogue with other countries, but to back it up with concrete economic and investment cooperation projects. “That applies to the relations with our closest partners, the CIS states, and to Russia's relations with the majority of European nations, the Asia-Pacific countries, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and of course with the United States. So, the policy which we describe as multi-directional relies on the real capabilities of Russia, the interests of Russia and similar reciprocal interests of our partners in practically all the regions of the world”, - said Russian Ambassador.

Mr.Orlov informed Ghanaian journalists that the political dialogue between Russia and the African states south of the Sahara has been fairly intensive - positions were agreed on key aspects of the international agenda, including the building of a just and democratic world order, the strengthening of the central role of the UN, the fight against terrorism and extremism and counteraction to other new challenges and threats. He also said that concerted efforts were underway to step up trade and economic links. “Thanks to the efforts taken, the positive dynamic of trade with the African countries south of the Sahara was preserved, trade amounted to some 800 million dollars in 2003 and it might grow by about a fourth in 2004,” – noted Russian Ambassador. Mr.Orlov also informed journalists that the Russian Federation has continued to offer African states broad preferences in the field of trade, consistently contributed to alleviating their debt burden as part of the initiative for very poor countries with large debts. According to information presented by him, in 1998-2002 alone Russia wrote off 11.2 billion dollars of the debt of African countries, the total amount of debts of African states written off by Russia in 2003-2004 was 107.97 million dollars. “Furthermore, our country assumed an obligation to write off more than 1 billion dollars of Ethiopian debt to the Paris Club”, - said Mr.Orlov.

Russia, according to the Russian Ambassador, was contributing in a substantial way to developing an overall strategy of the settlement of conflicts on the continent, the political line of the international community in each concrete crisis situation, determining the mandates of corresponding peacekeeping operations, agreeing steps aimed at a comprehensive solution of the tasks of post-conflict reconstruction. He noted that Russian assistance to strengthening security in Africa has yet another dimension: at present about 230 Russian servicemen and security men are involved in the UN peacekeeping operations in Africa: in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Touching on Russia – Ghana relations Mr.Orlov said that in the past two years there were quite a number of important events in the sphere of bilateral cooperation. Among them - the visit of the Russian parliamentary and business delegation to Ghana, the visit of the Ghanaian parliamentary delegation headed by the former Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey to Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, the establishment of Ghana - Russia business association, the formation of Ghana - Russia parliamentary group, the business trips to Ghana of the delegations of several Russian companies. Ambassador also mentioned the meeting of the Ghanaian Foreign Minister Mr. Nana Akufo-Addo with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister A.Saltanov in New-York and the visit of the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Y.Fedotov to Ghana. He also mentioned that Russian Government increased the number of scholarships granted to the Republic of Ghana at the expense of the Russian Federal Budget up to 30 starting from the academic year 2004/2005. Mr.Orlov noted that there was growing interest in the Russian Federation to the establishment and development of trade and economic relations with Ghanaian partners. He emphasized that last year Russia supplied to Ghana four transport helicopters for the emergency and peacekeeping operations.

Russian Ambassador informed that on May 9, 2005 Russia will celebrate the 60-th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic war. “We must pay tribute to the memory of victims of the Second World War. And we must remember the lesson of that largest catastrophe in the history of mankind and make the necessary conclusions from it to build a modern safe world”, - told Mr.Orlov.

This world must be balanced and democratic; it must take into account the interests of all countries. It is no coincidence that the UN General Assembly has declared May 8 and 9 as Days of Remembrance and Reconciliation.

Many peoples greatly contributed to the victory over Nazism. All the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition made an enormous contribution to victory. “It is our common victory”, - concluded the Ambassador.

Here in Ghana a photo-exhibition “People who won the war” will be launched in the University of Ghana. Russian Embassy will also propose to Ghanaian audience some movies on this subject.




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