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Vladimir Putin: "Russia and Africa: Joining Forces for Peace, Progress and a Prosperous Future"
In three days, the second Russia–Africa Summit and Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum will commence. President Putin has written an article aimed at the African audience explaining his vision of relations between Russia, African nations and Africa as a whole. Here it is:
On July 27-28, St. Petersburg will host the Second Russia-Africa Summit and the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum. On the eve of these large-scale and representative events, which will bring together heads of State and Government, entrepreneurs, scientists and public figures, I would like to share with readers of the leading media outlets of the African continent my vision for the development of Russian-African relations and outline areas of cooperation that are priorities for joint work in the coming decades of the twenty-first century.
Our country's partnership with Africa has strong, deep roots and has always been characterized by stability, trust and goodwill. We have consistently supported the African peoples in their struggle for liberation from colonial oppression, assisted in the formation of statehood, in strengthening their sovereignty and defense capabilities. Much has been done to create sustainable foundations for national economies. By the mid-1980s, our specialists had built more than 330 major infrastructure and industrial facilities in Africa: power plants, irrigation systems, industrial and agricultural enterprises – which are still operating successfully today, continuing to make a significant contribution to the economic development of the continent. Tens of thousands of African doctors, technicians, engineers, officers, and teachers have been educated in our country.
I would like to emphasize the traditionally close cooperation on the world stage, as well as the firm and consistent defense of the interests of African countries on international platforms by the USSR and later by Russia. We have always strictly adhered to the principle of "African problems – an African solution" and have stood in solidarity with Africans in their struggle for self-determination, justice and upholding their legitimate rights. We have never tried to impose our partners ' own ideas about the internal structure, forms and methods of management, development goals and ways to achieve them. Our respect for the sovereignty of African States, their traditions and values, their desire to determine their own destiny and freely build relationships with partners remains unchanged.
We sincerely value the honestly accumulated capital of friendship and cooperation, as well as the traditions of trust and mutual support that have developed between Russia and African countries. We are united by a common desire to form a system of relations based on the priority of international law, taking into account national interests, the indivisibility of security, and recognition of the central coordinating role of the United Nations.
Today, a constructive, trusting and forward-looking partnership between Russia and Africa is particularly significant and important. Powerful economic and political centers of power and influence are being formed in the world, which are increasingly asserting themselves and demanding to be taken into account. We are confident that the new multipolar world order, whose contours have already been outlined, will be fairer and more democratic. And there is no doubt that Africa, along with Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, will take its rightful place in it, finally freeing itself from the heavy legacy of colonialism and neo-colonialism, rejecting its modern practices.
Russia sees with satisfaction the growing international prestige of individual States and Africa as a whole, their desire to make a strong statement and take over the solution of the continent's problems. We always support constructive initiatives of our partners, advocate giving African countries a worthy place in the structures that determine the fate of the world, including the UN Security Council and the G20 ,and for the reform of global financial and trade institutions that meets their interests.
Unfortunately, we see that the current situation in the world is far from stable. Long-standing conflicts that exist in almost every region are deepening, and new threats and challenges are emerging. And Africa, like no other part of the world, feels the burden of global problems. In such difficult conditions, we look forward to working with our African partners to develop a non-discriminatory cooperation agenda. The strategic directions of our cooperation are set by the decisions of the first Russia–Africa Summit, held in Sochi at the end of October 2019. For their effective implementation, the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum has been established. We have established bilateral intergovernmental commissions on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation with many countries on the continent, and we will expand the network of Russian embassies and trade missions in Africa. There is an active development of additional tools designed to better structure economic ties and give them greater dynamics.
I would like to note with satisfaction that Russia's trade turnover with African countries increased in 2022 and reached almost $ 18 billion. However, we are all well aware that the potential of our trade and economic partnership is much higher. Russian companies are interested in working more actively on the continent in the field of high technologies and geological exploration, in the fuel and energy sector, including nuclear power, in the chemical industry, in mining and transport engineering, in agriculture and fishing. The changes taking place in the world require the search for solutions related to the establishment of new transport and logistics chains, the formation of a monetary and financial system and mutual settlement mechanisms that are safe and free from adverse external influences.
We understand the importance of uninterrupted food supply for the socio-economic development and maintenance of political stability of African States. Based on this, we have always paid great attention to issues related to the supply of wheat, barley, corn and other crops to African countries. Moreover, they did this both on a contractual basis and free of charge, as humanitarian aid, including through the UN Food Program. So, in 2022, Russia exported 11.5 million tons of grain to Africa, and in the first six months of this year – almost 10 million tons more. And this is despite the sanctions imposed on our exports, which really seriously hinder the export of Russian food to developing countries, complicate transport logistics, insurance and bank payments.
Many people have probably heard about the so – called "grain deal", which was originally aimed at ensuring global food security, reducing the threat of hunger and helping the poorest countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America-in fact, this is why Russia has committed to supporting its implementation. However, this "deal", which was publicly presented in the West as a manifestation of their concern and benefit for Africa, was in fact shamelessly used exclusively to enrich large American and European businesses that exported and resold grain from Ukraine.
Judge for yourself: for almost a year, a total of 32.8 million tons of cargo were exported from Ukraine under the "deal", of which more than 70% went to high-and above-middle-income countries, including the European Union, while countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, as well as Yemen and Afghanistan accounted for less than 3% of the total volume-less than one million tons.
At the same time, none of the terms of the "deal" concerning the withdrawal of Russian grain and fertilizer exports to world markets from sanctions was fulfilled. Moreover, even the gratuitous transfer of mineral fertilizers to the poorest countries in need is hindered. Of the 262 thousand tons of products blocked in European ports, only two shipments were sent: 20 thousand tons in Malawi and 34 thousand in Kenya. The rest remains in the unscrupulous hands of Europeans. This is despite the fact that this is a purely humanitarian action, which should not be subject to any sanctions in principle.
Taking into account all these facts, the continuation of the "grain deal" that did not justify its humanitarian purpose has lost its meaning. We objected to the further extension of the "deal" – from July 18, its implementation was completed. I want to assure you that our country is able to replace Ukrainian grain both on a commercial and gratuitous basis, especially since we are again expecting a record harvest this year.
Despite the sanctions, Russia will continue to work vigorously to organize the supply of grain, food, fertilizers and more to Africa.: We highly appreciate and will continue to dynamically develop the entire range of economic ties with Africa – with individual States, regional integration associations, and, of course, with the African Union. We welcome the strategic course of this organization towards further economic integration and the formation of an African Continental Free Trade Area. We are ready to establish pragmatic and mutually beneficial relations, including through the Eurasian Economic Union. We are also determined to step up cooperation with other regional associations of the continent.
Continuing the established traditions, we plan to continue providing assistance in training national personnel for African countries. Today, about 35 thousand students from the continent study in our country, of which more than six thousand-at the expense of Russian scholarships. Every year, we increase the number of scholarships allocated, encourage training on a commercial basis and inter-university relations that have recently become widespread.
It is in our common interest to bring cooperation in the humanitarian sphere, culture, sports, and mass media to a new and higher level. I would like to take this opportunity to invite our young African friends to come to Russia, to Sochi, in March 2024, for the World Youth Festival. This large-scale international forum will bring together more than 20 thousand representatives from more than 180 countries for an informal, friendly, open dialogue, free from ideological and political barriers, racial and religious prejudices, uniting the younger generation around the ideas of lasting and sustainable peace, prosperity and creativity.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize once again that we attach great importance to the upcoming Second Russia–Africa Summit. As a result, it is planned to adopt a comprehensive declaration, a number of joint statements, and approve the action plan of the Russia–Africa Partnership Forum for the period up to 2026. A significant package of intergovernmental and interagency agreements and memoranda with individual States and regional associations of the continent is being prepared for signing.
I look forward to meeting with the leaders of African countries in St. Petersburg and look forward to fruitful and constructive communication. I am confident that the decisions of the Summit and the Forum, as well as the ongoing multi-faceted joint work, will serve to further develop the Russian-African strategic partnership for the benefit of our countries and peoples.
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