Moscow supports the willingness of African countries to have a permanent representation in the United Nations Security Council, Russian Ambassador to Botswana, Victor Sibilev has said. Speaking last week Friday at his residence in Gaborone’s Extension 11 during the commemoration of Russia’s Diplomacy Day, Ambassador Sibilev, who also doubles as the Dean of the local diplomatic corps, said that Russia has demonstrated this by its interest in forging close foreign policy coordination with its African partners in the UN and other multilateral venues.
He said that Africa is an important partner for Russia, an active participant in the emerging polycentric architecture of the world order, adding that Russia supports the principle, “to African problems - African solutions” according to which African countries themselves should find solutions to their problems.” In an aside interview with Botswana Guardian, he condemned machinations being employed by France which seek to acquiesce to Germany’s aspirations for a permanent seat in the Security Council, which were patently manifested by the signing of the Aachen Treaty January 22 this year.
He said that Europe is “overpopulated” in the UN Security Council unlike Africa, Asia and Latin America, which despite hosting the third of the world’s population do not have a seat in the Security Council of the world governing body. Addressing his guests, Ambassador Sibilev enthused that Russia maintains regular contacts with African countries at the highest levels citing the tour of five African countries - Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia - last year March 5-9 by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as well as the visits this year January 23-26 to the Maghreb countries, including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Further, on May 25, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the Central African Republic’s (CAR) President F.Touadera on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, while Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa visited Russia this year January 14-16 for talks with Putin. Ambassador Sibilev mentioned the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Southern African Development Community on Basic Principles of Relations and Cooperation on October 23, 2018 by Minister S.Lavrov and Executive Secretary of SADC Dr. S.Tax to mark a “new page in our bilateral relations”.
Ambassador Sibilev continued that Russian diplomats rely on the accumulated experience of productive cooperation, in their pursuit for a consistent policy for deepening the range of Russia-Africa relations, based on the principles of international law, equality, and respect for the mutual interests. He said the Russian Federation attaches great importance to strengthening peace and security in Africa which is the most important component in ensuring the sustainable and dynamic development of the African states and maintaining global and regional stability.
He explained that during the 10thBRICS summit in Johannesburg on July 25-27, 2018, the BRICS leaders met with the heads of invited African states and regional organisations and focused on further deepening the dialogue between the Group of Five and African countries. On the multilateral front Ambassador Sibilev explained that Russian diplomacy pursues an independent multi directional foreign policy, makes efforts to strengthen the positive trends on the international stage, finds collective solutions based on international law to the problems all countries are facing, and ultimately promotes a fairer and more democratic polycentric world order in keeping with objective modern realities.
“It develops mutually beneficial relations with all interested states, and plays an active role in the activity of the UN, multilateral organisations and forums, including the G20, BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the OSCE, and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation,” he said.To buttress this engagement, he disclosed that two major events - the Russia-Africa Parliamentary Forum, as well as the Russia-Africa Business Forum - will soon take place and will later in the year be followed by Russia-Africa summit which is expected in Ocrober 2019.
Turning to the bilateral relations between Russia and Botswana, Ambassador Sibilev extolled the virtues of friendship and cooperation that subsists between Moscow and Gaborone. He said both capitals were engaged in concerted efforts to deepen their political dialogue and stepping up mutually beneficial ties in the trade, economic, humanitarian and other spheres. Ambassador Sibilev told his guests, among them Dr. Unity Dow, the minister of International Affairs and Cooperation; Gaborone Mayor, Kagiso Thutlwe, former foreign minister Phandu Skelemani and his wife – that both sides have developed top-level political dialogue, promoting inter-parliamentary contacts and expanding cooperation between their foreign ministries.
For example, he cited the visits last year August, September and November by ministers Shaw Kgathi; Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Dikgang Makgalemele to Moscow and St. Petersburg respectively where they participated in various acrivities including the 2nd Eurasian Woman Forum and its Declaration as well as the 7th Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum. On the education and cultural exchanges, Ambassador Sibilev disclosed that over 50 students travel to study in Russian universities every year. He said the Embassy was also doing its best to give young politicians and diplomats an opportunity to establish contacts with their Russian counterparts through the programme, “New Generation”.
Minister Dow expressed Botswana’s gratitude for the friendly relations that exists between the two nations and hailed Russia for recognising the importance of diplomats as important peace builders in international relations. Ambassador Sibilev used the occasion of the Russia Diplomacy Day to also wish Ambassador H.E. Ms. Meltem Büyükkarakaş of Turkey and High Commissioner of Namibia H.E. Mr. Asser Kapare “great success” at their diplomatic activity.
Also present at the commemoration were Alfred Tebelelo Boang from the ministry of international affairs and cooperation, who has since been moved to head the Department of Euorpe and the Americas as Director. Daphne Mlotshwa, now acting director of Public Relations was also present. It was certainly a cheerful occasion that gathered heads of diplomatic missions in Botswana and government officials as well as the press fraternity together.