President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen, friends,
I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome once again to the participants in the second Russia–Africa Summit and the Russia–Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum.
Friends, we are happy that heads of state and government and leading politicians and government officials from practically all African countries have arrived in St Petersburg. The leaders of executive bodies of African integration associations are also present here.
Such a representative range of participants gathered in our northern capital, as we call St Petersburg, convincingly illustrates the mutual desire of Russia and African countries to expand and deepen mutually beneficial ties and contacts. This is also a real confirmation of our common intentions to take Russia-Africa relations to a new, more advanced level in politics, security, in the economic and social spheres.
We are convinced that the St Petersburg summit will help us reach this main goal in full measure. We are looking to the future with optimism because Russia-Africa relations rest on the firm foundation of friendship and mutual assistance, an accumulated positive experience of our joint work and a truly rich and eventful history.
At one time, the Soviet Union rendered African nations tangible support in the struggle against colonialism, racism and apartheid, in the development of statehood and in the consolidation and protection of independence. It helped them lay the foundations of their national economies. It is enough to recall the construction of important infrastructure, energy, industrial and agricultural facilities, of hospitals and schools. Assistance was granted to form and equip combat-ready armed forces. Hundreds of thousands of Africans graduated from our universities. The knowledge and professions they acquired – engineers, economists, doctors, lawyers, to name a few – have brought and are still bringing practical benefits to African states. Russia will continue to expand on these kinds of traditions.
It is equally important to note that today Russia and the African countries stand together for the formation of a just, multipolar world order based on the principles of sovereign equality of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, and respect for peoples' right to determine their own destiny.
And, of course, our country will continue to make a real contribution to settling current crises and preventing the emergence of new hotbeds of tension on the continent, fighting terrorism and extremism, pandemics and hunger, and addressing issues of environmental, food and information security.
Many people in Africa know this saying: “If you want to walk fast – go alone. If you want to walk far – go together.” We are indeed ready to work for the future hand in hand with our African friends, and to build truly strategic interaction and partnership.