President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends.
I am delighted to welcome you to St Petersburg. We view Burundi as a reliable partner and our reliable friend on the African continent. Last year, Russia and Burundi marked 60 years of diplomatic relations.
Today we can discuss plans for bilateral cooperation and later exchange views on regional matters with you, Mr President, and other colleagues, including in the context of Burundi’s current chairmanship in the East African Community.
We noted, with satisfaction, that our political contacts have intensified this year. In March, the Burundian Foreign Minister took part in talks in Sochi. In May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov became the first foreign minister of Russia to visit Burundi.
Earlier, in February, Burundi was visited by Anna Popova, Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor). Mr President, I appreciate it that you found time in your schedule to meet with her personally.
In January-April, Russia-Burundi trade grew at a higher rate than in 2022. The absolute figures are still relatively small, but we have good prospects for ramping up our partnership.
We are expanding the legal framework of our links. On the sidelines of this summit, Russia and Burundi plan to sign documents on nuclear energy, healthcare, justice and labour.
We are satisfied with our cooperation in healthcare. Our specialised agencies signed an agreement on establishing a Russian-Burundian research centre for contagious diseases. The first joint research into severe infections at the research centre is scheduled for this October.
In early 2024, we plan to hand over a mobile express diagnostics laboratory based on a GAZ vehicle. It is currently in production.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: We have seen it already.
Vladimir Putin: Great. Minister Lavrov is saying that you have seen it today. A model of this laboratory is on display at the summit.
We provide training to Burundian professionals. In the course of our cooperation, we have trained 4,500 specialists from Burundi. Eighty-four students are currently studying in Russia. In view of the growing demand, we have doubled the government quota to 100 places.
We have also noted with satisfaction the Burundian people’s growing interest in learning Russian. On May 15, the Department of Foreign Languages of the University of Burundi opened a Russian language section.
Mr President, colleagues, I want to note that Russia and Burundi have similar approaches to most international issues. We are grateful for the support for Russian initiatives at multilateral platforms. Certainly, we are interested in further constructive cooperation with you, particularly at the UN.
Once again, welcome to Russia.
President of the Republic of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimiye (retranslated): Thank you very much, Mr President.
Your Excellency, it is a great pleasure for me to meet you in your wonderful country.
On behalf of my delegation and from me personally, I would like to thank you with all my heart for the warm reception and legendary hospitality that the Government and people of Russia have accorded to us from the moment of our arrival.
I would also like to convey to you the sincere greetings from the people of Burundi to the people of Russia. Although we are geographically remote, we have had close relations over the decades.
Your Excellency, this visit gives me a great opportunity to briefly discuss with you the general situation in my country and to talk about the positive influence of Russian-Burundian cooperation.
This meeting is taking place at a time when Burundi and Russia have wonderful bilateral relations that rest on the joint values of sovereignty, mutual respect, solidarity, sincere friendship and consideration for mutual interests.
Burundi and Russia support each other at international platforms, for example, the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council. In addition, we have the same vision on the reform of the UN Security Council, in part, as regards the need to correct the historical injustice towards Africa. The people of Burundi continue sincerely thanking the people of Russia for their solidarity. We welcome the Russian Government’s adherence to the principle of non-interference and its support for our national sovereignty during the diplomatic and political aggression of some countries against Burundi.
I would also like to welcome an exchange of visits and interaction at the top level on both sides. Today, this can allow us to reach harmony in our approach to global challenges.
I would like to confirm that Burundi is and will always be an ally of Russia, on which it can always rely in defending its vital national interests.
Your Excellency Mr President, on the day following the 2020 general election, Burundi decisively entered the final stage of economic recovery and embarked again on the path of progress after long years dedicated to restoring peace and democracy, bringing stability to the political sphere and security.
Today, Burundi is ready to carry out its vision of itself as a developing nation by 2040 and a developed country by 2060.
I keep in my memory the message you sent me via the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation whom I met in Bujumbura on May 30, immediately after the Burundian foreign minister visited Sochi at the invitation of his Russian counterpart.
More frequent friendly visits by either party as well as exchanges in scientific and cultural circles reaffirm our bond not only at the government level but also relations between our peoples.
Today, as our relations have passed the 60 years mark, this meeting opens up new prospects for cooperation to us.
Burundi highly appreciates the level at which bilateral cooperation programmes are being implemented in the areas which represent various interests, in accordance with the Protocol on holding political consultations signed in Bujumbura on June 11, 2020, notwithstanding the effects of the coronavirus and the current situation in Ukraine. It is in this spirit that we signed bilateral agreements of mutual interest on the sidelines of the second Russia–Africa Summit in St Petersburg. It concerns such areas as education, healthcare, law, energy, defence and security, the labour market and creating new jobs.
Your Excellency, I would like to thank you for the mobile laboratory your government is handing over to Burundi. It will contribute to improving the health of the Burundian nation. I am also grateful to you for the promise to transfer 100,000 tonnes of fertiliser, and we hope this promise will materialise shortly. This support is of paramount importance for Burundi since it is primarily an agricultural country. Our priority is agriculture, 95 percent of food goes to the domestic market and the big part of the population works in this sector.
Burundi is now playing the role assigned to it in the processes of establishing peace on our continent, in particular, in Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where Burundi has deployed its military contingents prepared to conduct combat activities to help those countries to restore peace, security and stability.
As President of the East African Community and the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the Region, as well as the African Union Commissioner for the Youth, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa, I am resolved to keep up efforts for peace to return to the east of the DRC and for terrorism and armed groups to be decimated in Somalia and the CAR.
My country’s experience in conducting negotiations and restoring peace in Burundi is an important advantage for achieving success in peace-making with support from partners in the subregion.
In this connection, I strongly believe that the Russian Federation as a UNSC permanent member, under your leadership, of course, will be able to support the peace process at the regional level and at the level of the continent not only as a nation but also your strong voice will join these efforts in the international arena, in the Security Council. This support is manifested in various ways: it includes political, diplomatic, logistical and technical support among other forms.
Your Excellency Mr President,
At the international level, the world is going through difficult times now, with multilateralism under threat. In resolving conflicts, Burundi has always adhered to peaceful methods of settlement and dialogue. Precisely in this vein, Burundi believes that the differences between Russia and Ukraine can be resolved by peaceful means, namely, through dialogue and negotiations.
As for global challenges, like any other country, Burundi is concerned about pressing problems such as climate change, terrorism and reforming the UN Security Council. We also condemn certain states that sometimes abuse human rights rhetoric in an attempt to influence other states’ internal politics or the geopolitical order, or to handle tensions between major powers, whether it be military-geostrategic clashes or commercial wars.
As for economic cooperation, Burundi believes that in an ever-changing world, sovereign states need to have freedom to choose the partners they want and follow in this their people’s will. The same applies to the choice of political governance, economic, administrative and cultural management, where each situation and context needs to be considered individually. In this regard, it is also important to note that we are extremely concerned about the sanctions that a number of major powers may impose on other countries that do not follow the rules they have created.
Burundi, which has left behind a decade of violence and civil wars, exacerbated by the intervention of Western states and unjust sanctions adopted unilaterally, now wants to strengthen its military capabilities, preserve its territorial integrity and ensure its citizens’ security.
In this regard, the Russian Federation has often supported Burundi at various UN platforms, and we would like to thank you for that. We hope that we will be able to strengthen and diversify cooperation between Russia and Burundi on the military track.
Mr President, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for the multilateral, multi-faceted support that Russia has provided to Burundi at a time when my country was unfairly placed on the political agenda at the Security Council and was under political and diplomatic pressure from certain countries. That gesture of solidarity deserves the highest appreciation. Mr President, Your Excellency, we thank you for doing that. We will never forget that gesture on your part.
Mr President, in conclusion, I would like to once again express my gratitude to you for your warm welcome and hospitality and to reiterate that Burundi is strongly committed to the diversification and strengthening of mutual relations between our states.
To further consolidate the excellent relations that exist between our fraternal and friendly countries, I would like to invite you to pay a visit to Burundi at a time convenient for you. The date will be coordinated through our diplomatic channels.
Long live Russian-Burundian cooperation! Long live international solidarity!
Thank you, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much, Mr President.
Once again, I would like to emphasise that it is a great pleasure for us to have you here.