BY H.E. AMBASSADOR OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
AT THE RECEPTION ON THE OCCASION OF RUSSIA'S
NATIONAL DAY (RUSSIA DAY - JUNE 12, 2005)
Thursday, June 9, 2005, 6.30 - 8.30 p.m.
Hon.Mr.Charles Bintin, Minister for Local Government and Rural Development,
Distinguished Guests and Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all tonight at the reception on the occasion of the Russia's National Day.
Year 2005 is very special for our country. Exactly one month ago, on the 9-th of May, we commemorated the 60-th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic war, the war that will remain in the memory of our people forever as the time of heroic deeds, of greatest courage, of steadfast will that destroyed the powerful fascist military machine.
On June 12 we are honouring Russia - our Motherland, a country with a thousand-year-long history and a unique legacy, which has united on a vast expanse a multitude of peoples, territories and cultures. This year is that of the 15-th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of sovereignty of the Russian Federation - the event that lies in the basis of today's holiday which is called Russia Day.
Past few years were for Russia those of intense and difficult creative work. And this efforts yielded obvious results both in political and economic fields, materialized in the strengthening of the State, positive dynamics of socio-economic processes in the country. The task set for Russian Government is to double the country's GDP by the year 2010.
In 2004 GDP increased by 7.1%. Thus, Russia has surpassed developed nations by economic growth rate. This economic growth has helped raise people's real incomes, which have risen by 9 percent and pensions have increased by approximately 5 percent. Financial standing of the nation has improved significantly. The surplus budget policy allowed to accumulate significant funds in the Stabilization Fund - over $18.5 bln at the end of the year 2004 and over $30 bln at the end of May 2005. Currency reserves of the Bank of Russia increased up to $147 billion as for end of May 2005 (it was $124 billion as of the year-end). The important fact to note is that our gold and foreign currency reserves now exceed the size of our state foreign debt (for this day around $108 billion).
During the past year Russian diplomacy was more active in all areas. Russia's relations were dynamically developing with its main partners in the West and in the East, with key international organizations and regional structures. It needs to be stressed that Russia used its increased potential not solely or largely to advance the purely Russian interests but rather for the achievement of common goals that our country shares with the majority of the world community.
Political dialogue between Russia and the African states south of the Sahara is fairly intensive. Concerted efforts are 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 approximately one billion dollars in 2004. The Russian Federation continues 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. 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 2003-2005 was 1.3 billion dollars.
Russia is contributing in a substantial way to developing an overall strategy of the settlement of conflicts on the continent: 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.
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, its role in the settlement of conflict situations in the African Continent as a whole and we are ready to continue strengthening our co-operation and to explore new spheres for prospective joint work.
I would like to say that in the past year there were quite a number of important events in the sphere of bilateral cooperation. Among them - the visit of Parliamentary delegation of Ghana to Russia, the meeting of 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. On June 2, 2005 consultations with the participation of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation A. Saltanov and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana Mr.A. Osei-Adjei took place in Moscow. The sides had a thorough exchange of views on a number of major international problems and on countering global challenges and threats. On most of them, the similarity of Russia's and Ghana's positions was confirmed.
There is growing interest in the Russian Federation to the establishment and development of trade and economic relations with Ghanaian partners. Many Russian companies are looking for the ways of cooperation with Ghana. One of the latest obvious examples in this regard is cooperation in supplying Russian helicopters to Ghana.
Let me express hope that these important developments will add new dimensions and give strong impetus to the relations between our two countries.
I am convinced that the relations of friendship and co-operation between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Ghana will continue to develop for the benefit of the peoples of our countries, in the interests of peace and stability in the African Continent.
Dear Guests, Friends!
Now I would like to invite you to join me in a toast to the health of His Excellency Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana, to the well-being and prosperity of all Ghanaians, to further strengthening of friendly and cordial relations, which so happily exist between Russia and Ghana and the peoples of our two countries.